Psalm 97—God’s Glory Changes You

Psalm 97—God’s Glory Changes You

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The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice! Psalm 97:1

If you are looking for a movie to watch on one of these nights or weekends when you can’t go out because of the covid restrictions or fears, I highly recommend the movie “I Can Only Imagine.”  It is the story of how that beautiful song by the band “Mercy Me” came to be written, a song that is now the top-selling Christian song of all time.

The song is one of the most accurate of what heaven will be like, because it doesn’t attempt to describe heaven, as many other songs or people do.  We can only imagine what heaven will be like.  And we can only imagine what God’s glory will be like.

Most of us know the story of Moses.  He had a stuttering problem.  Yet, God chose Moses to lead the people Israel out of Egypt.  Moses had doubts at many points along the way.  He made mistakes, like when he doubted God’s call, or when he smashed the tablets of the Ten Commandments as a response to the Israelites building a golden calf.  He became frustrated with the slow progress of the 40 year journey of wandering in the wilderness.  And at times he could decide if he should be more mad at God or at the children of Israel.

In Exodus 33, Moses is exasperated.  He is tired, he is frustrated.  And God says to Moses, “You have found favor in My sight, and I know you by name.”  (Exodus 33:17)  In essence God tells Moses that because Moses has found the favor of God, he can ask God for something.  And Moses answers “I pray Thee, show me Thy glory.”  (33:18)  No one can see God, and Moses would not be an exception to that.  God told Moses that Moses should go into a cleft in a rock and that God would pass by and cover over the cleft and over Moses, so Moses wouldn’t see God’s face, but would only see God from the back.

When Moses had come down from the mountain, his face shone brightly because he had been talking with God.  It was so bright that the people of Israel could not look at him, and he had to put a veil over his face.

The glory of God, when we experience it in heaven, is something that none of us can comprehend.  As the song “I Can Only Imagine” says, “Will I dance for You Jesus, or in awe of You be still?  Will I stand in Your presence, or to my knees with I fall?  Will I sing ‘Hallelujah’? Will I be able to speak at all? I can only imagine.”  This is true.  We can only imagine what the glory of God will be in heaven.

On earth, we experience glimpses of God’s glory.  In many ways, these glimpses are revealed as parables, things that people see but don’t see, things that people hear and don’t understand.  (Matthew 13:13) Some people see the Liturgy as a priest in robes swinging a censer while the choir sings.  And others experience the Liturgy as the kingdom of God revealed on earth in the present.  This is why for some the Liturgy is an inconvenience each week, while for others it is the highlight; for some it’s an hour or so of wasted time, while for others it is life-changing, just like how God’s glory changed Moses.

We can say the same thing about the environment—we can complain about the sun being too hot, or we can look with awe on a sun that gives light to the whole world, that allows things to grow, that gives warmth to all of us.  That is a glorious thing.

We can see other people as enemies or even friends.  Or we can see them in God’s image and likeness and be in awe of them.

We don’t spend enough time thinking about words like “awe” or “glory” unless they are attributed to ourselves by and large.  To allow ourselves to experience God’s glory requires a sense of humility, and selflessness.  It requires looking beyond ourselves.  God’s glory is all around us if we are willing to see it.  And like Moses’ experience of God’s glory, it can change us, as it changed him.

Here are some practical places to “see” God’s glory—

  1. Sunrise
  2. Sunset
  3. Clouds
  4. A gentle breeze
  5. The creativity of our others
  6. Our own creativity
  7. Harmonious sounds
  8. Acts of compassion

This is a small list.  There are actually innumerable places to experience the glory of God.

The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!  Clouds and thick darkness are round about him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.  Fire goes before Him, and burns up His adversaries round about.  His lightnings lighten the world; the earth sees and trembles.  The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth.  The heavens proclaim His righteousness; and all the peoples behold His glory.  Psalm 97:1-6

Look for places to experience God’s glory, and allow yourself to experience them.  Let’s God’s glory change you!

The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! There you may find a database for past prayer team messages as well as books by Fr. Stavros and other information about his work and St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL.

These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.

The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

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Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis

Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0