Up Close and Personal
November 27, 2022
• Rev. Jevon Caldwell-Gross
Im going to tread lightly……..When was the first
time you learned that certain aspects about
Christmas were up for debate? But do you
remember how old you were? Do you remember
who told you or how you found out?
Maybe it wasn’t around Christmas, but maybe it
was involving something else. How did you feel
when you found out that something that certain
things didn’t add up. Did it feel like a
disappointment or let down? How did it effect you?
I mean, let’s face it weve all been there?
What’s often not talked about is the transformation
that happens we learn that something is “real.”…
We don’t talk much about that….The moment you
realized that friendship is real! Forgives.
Experienced love or peace.
. God is real…We don’t talk about the joy and hope
and sometimes life altering moment when we
thought something was true and it actually was!
That’s just as powerful! That’s just as impactful. I’m
fact, this feel gives us an entry point as we talk
about our text in John 1:14. It gives us insight into
something becoming real…….
This is a turning point between the relationship
between God and Humanity. The writer describes
the coming of Christ into the world as ‘seeing the
glory of God. In the form of Jesus Christ, God
becomes real in a way humanity has yet to
experience. Glory was the evidence. We are going
to spend the next few talking about this word and
unpacking it. What does it mean to see God’s glory
Let’s use this definition. Glory is
the visible manifestation of the presence or
attributes of God (slide). It is the attributes of God
made real. It’s not just talking about Godly things,
it’s see it. It’s experiencing what we think is true
about God. If we say that God is love, it’s seeing it.
If we say that God is kind, it’s experiencing the
visible manifestation of the presence or attributes of
God. That’s Gods glory.
(This might pose as challenge to some because
God shows up differently in different seasons.
Some of you experience this reality regularly during
the holidays because when you see people or when
they show up, they look a little differently than they
In fact, we went home to Detroit and it seems like
every year people change just a little bit don’t they.
Nicole’s younger brother grew is hair out and has a
goatee and a full time job. Another family member
had a new love interest. Another had brand new
puppies. My nephew now has two kids of his own.
People just show up differently. People are always
commenting on how my beard is getting more Grey.
Experiencing Gods glory requires me to be open to
the different ways God might show up in my life and
in our world.)….. God shows up differently in
different seasons our lives.
This is not the first time this word glory is used but
the way God has revealed godself has evolved. Let
me prove it. In exodus 33….Moses asked if he
could see Gods glory.
Listen to God’s response….. “I will cause all my
goodness to pass in front of you…..But,” he said,
“you cannot see my face, for no one may see me
and live…..When my glory passes by, I will put you
in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand
until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my
hand and you will see my back; but my face must
not be seen.” Moses says let me see you, and says,
“Sure, now look at my back.” SHOWBACK
Imagine me preaching with my back facing you the
entire time. Imagine coming to the Christmas
concerts and the choir sings the whole time line this!
Disconnected? Not as personal. Imagine you
hearing my voice but not seeing my face.
Isn’t that interesting. In one scripture, God is saying
you can not see my face? When my glory passes
my you will only see my backside It’s almost as
though God is saying you can see me, but not all
of me. God makes a conscious decision to remain
a mystery. Reveal but only so much….
Then when we get to this time of year, we celebrate
the fact that God shows up in the form of Jesus
Christ. We see a face. hear a voice. Get a name.
We see this God that makes a very different
decision to reveal so much more of Gods self. What
does this say about God? What does this say about
a God that decides to reveal more of Gods self to
humanity in such a vulnerable way. God is taking
off the veil. God is being more transparent. God
is showing us Gods true nature. This is what God
is revealing to us.
I think Gods glory is not just about God showing
these perfect attributes. It’s not God saying look at
my highlight reel! Glory is God revealing Gods true
nature. Seeing Gods glory is less about
witnessing a highlight reel and more about God
showing God’s compete self. (Slide) God goes
from showing God backside to showing up in the
form of Jesus the Christ. Here we see glory. We see
God unveiled. We experience the visible
manifestation of God presence in a more intimate
way. The character of God does not diminish
because we see more of God.
- Here’s why this is going to be hard. God the
defining the terms of our relationship. Unveiled.
Transparent. Real. No false pretenses. No masks.
No hiding. No mystery. Show your true self….
This is hard because most of us are used to
relationships that look like this….(show backside).
We are used to only revealing to people what we
want them to know. Job interview. (Backside) First
Dates. Social Media. Church Pews. The fear is
that the more people know, the less they will
embrace us! So we give you this! Backside.
Growing in my faith is not just doing a list of
activities but it’s courageously showing God more of
myself. Seeing Gods glory becomes an invitation to
experience a relationship where we can experiences
our true natures.
Can I come before God Unveiled. Transparent.
Real. No false pretenses. No masks. No hiding.
No mystery. Show your true self….
What areas do you keep veiled from God?
Not only does this challenge the way we experience glory,
but it even challenges how we understand it. Normally,
when we talk about or assign glory is often used
associated with what someone does well. People who are
highlighted in our culture it’s because they do one thing or
a few things well. When you see anybody that’s good at
something, even though they might be naturally gifted at
something they had to work for it!
I’ve been trying to keep up with the World Cup and it’s
the first time I’ve seen some of these famous players
actually play a game. I see headlines about them all the
night but now we get to see what makes them so good.
Christian’s Ronaldo’s training schedule
1. Usually starts of his morning at about 6:00. He
works out for about 2-3 hours and splits the time
doing conditioning and skill moves with the soccer
2. Takes a nap
3. 9:30. Eats a high protein breakfast
4. 10:30. Another 2 hour workout.
5. 12:30. Another nap!
6. Another high protein meal.
7. Another nap.
8. Another meal.
9. Evening obligations
10. Family time
11. Gets in the pool around 10
12. Heads to bed around 11:30
Here’s the catch. Regardless of how hard he trains,
sooner or later his athletic skills will diminish. Someone
else will take the spotlight. His glory will fade. It erodes.
It’s not sustainable. Glory is normally this fleeting
moment that people chase because we know deep down it
doesn’t last forever. Glory comes in moments.
And then there’s John 1…. It flies in the face of how we
normally find and assign glory. We have seen his
glory….Does not list an extensive list of accomplishments
associated with glory. No highlights. No magical goals.
No training schedule. It’s not even associated with a
major Jewish holiday. God glory is unique because it’s
instrinsic. It’s an inside job. It’s not based on something
God learned how to do or be. It wasn’t determined on
who was there. It wasn’t based on their interpretation of
Implications……It’s not seasonal. After we put up the
Christmas trees, I can experience it. When everyone is
done singing carols, I can experience it. Shepherds,
people that were considered unclean and marginalized
experienced his glory. A caravan of pagans from the East
experienced his glory. A young Jewish couple that was
contemplating divorce, from a normal family experienced
it. A devout elderly couple that thought they well beyond
the years of bearing kids. Angles from on high.
When we look at the diversity of people that’s
experienced the glory of God coming into the world in
some ways it doesn’t represent different individual
experiences but I think it represents the variety of
experiences we go through in our owns lives. Sometimes
we feel angelic. At other times we feel unclean.
Sometimes I have a lot of gifts to bring. Other times I
only have myself to offer. Sometimes we are devout and
other times we might as well be pagans. At any given
time our lives can representative of these. They exist in
all of us. You can experience God glory in every season
of your life. There is no one excluded from experiencing
Gods glory is just as real today as it was 2000 years ago.
Is there something hindering me from experiencing Gods
presence or attributes being made real?
Let’s be honest. The texts reminds us that most
people missed it. They rejected it. Glory was
present among them but they didn’t get it at that
time. And that happens to us. It happens to the
best of us. We miss so much of what God is trying
to do. But the good news is that experiencing Gods
glory is a daily invitation. It doesn’t come and go.
It’s not like we miss a sale today and won’t come
back until next year.
Their is a small word that they used to describe
Gods presence in the Old Testament. When the
invisible was made visible they would refer to it as
Gods Shekhina glory. For instance When they were
in the wilderness and God led them with a cloud by
day and fire by night. When God would fill their
temples, it would all be described the same way. All
of these visible manifestations of God would be
described as Gods shakine glory. The word simply
meant, “one who dwells.” Some translations
suggests one that “ takes up residence.”
Remember hearing that in John chapter 1. Here’s
why it matters. Here’s why this brings hope. It
suggest that in coming into the world, this is more
than a divine visitation. it’s more than just God being
present situationally. This is more than just stopping
through or passing by… But this is a decision for
God to take up residence in our lives. This is not us
seeking to dwell with God, this is God seeking to
live, dwell, and take up residence with us.
Let me show you the grace that is displayed in
Gods decision to dwell and take up residence. How
many of you have hosted or was the guest at
someone’s house for a holiday? Who has had that
experience? There are certain people that you love
to visit, but you’d never ask them to dwell and take
up residence at your house. Now I’m going be
honest. There are certain people I love to visit. I
like going over their homes, for a certain amount of
time. I like coming and I like leaving. I don’t bring a
change of clothes. I make sure I know where they
hung up my coat. Some places and people I love to
visit, but I would never dwell there. You would
never live with everyone that you visit. And you
would never allow everyone who visited you to take
Let me ask you to take out your house keys. Look
at it. You don’t give that keys to your residence to
just any and everybody that visits your home. This
is the key to your home. Where you keep your
treasures. Where you go for safety. You are very
particular about who gets a key. Why because not
everyone should be able to dwell or take up
residence where you reside.
The same care should be taken spiritually and with
regards to our faith. Every situation and
circumstance doesn’t have to dwell or take up
space in your life. We’ve given out too many keys.
We have allowed too many situations and
conditions to take up residence when they were just
supposed to visitors.
Here’s a key. Conflict. Here’s a key. Difficult past.
Key. Sickness, you get a key. Other peoples
opinions, other peoples expectations, etc……
God is not just coming into the world, God wants to
come into our lives and dwell. Gods wants to be
visible in our lives.
God wants to take up residence in our lives. God
wants to live in our hearts. Live in our thoughts.
live in our relationships. The arrival of Gods glory or
the arrival of Gods visible presence in our lives is
not for just a limited time. It not just something we
can have when everything is going well. But it’s
something we can experience, can see, can feel,
can hear for the rest of our lives. It’s the glory that
was see in that we just see in the distance, but it’s
what we can experience up close and personal.