We move on today to reflect on the refrain that is used at key stages in many of our worship services:
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and shall be for ever. Amen.
Glory is a word we use colloquially when someone has accomplished a notable success in their life, often of a sporting nature – but it has to be enjoyed at the time, as often within a few years that glory has been passed on to someone quite different. What does glory mean in the context of God?
The Bible contains hundreds of references to God’s glory, relating to the past, present and future. Although no-one has seen God, there are many glimpses of His presence, starting with creation:
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.Psalm 19.1
In the Old Testament, we read of Moses meeting God at the burning bush, and later He appeared to him in the cloud:
To the Israelites the glory of the LORD looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain.Ex. 24. 17,18
There are many references in the Old Testament to the Glory of the Lord filling the temple, and David expressed God’s glory thus:
Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendour, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.1 Chr. 29.11
Moving forward to the New Testament, John’s gospel explains how Jesus revealed God’s glory:
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.John 1.14
Jesus took his inner circle of three disciples onto the mountain of the Transfiguration, when they had a glimpse of his true nature:
His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.Matt. 17.2
For the present time, it is the Holy Spirit who reveals God’s glory to us, who was promised in Matthew 3. Jesus would be the one who baptises his followers “with the Holy Spirit and fire”. This came to fruition after the resurrection, when we read “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” (Acts 2.4) A portion of God’s glory can be revealed through human beings who are open to the moving of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
As we think of the future, the Book of Revelation, looks forward to the Kingdom of Heaven: “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.” (Rev 21.23) and we are reminded of the response that all of us will make when we eventually take our places in that glorious destination:
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honour and glory and power, for ever and ever!Rev. 5.13
We have much to reflect on as we express “a gloria” to God each day. The members of the Trinity reveal different facets of God’s glory to us at all times, in the past, at present and eternally. Today, we too can ask for the Holy Spirit to express something of his glory through our lives, if we earnestly desire the gifts he provides to build up the church and convey God’s love to a needy world.