True Colors
 — Rev. Phil Hobson

February 26, 2017
Transfiguration Sunday

Matthew 17:1-9

Grace and Peace to you this morning. Grace and Peace.

Our Gospel reading this morning raises some questions. Was Jesus changed in front of Peter and James and John? Or did they simply see more clearly who he really was?

Ed Friedman used to say that when x-rays came along, people said, “Now we can finally see what is inside a living person.” Then along came ultrasounds, CT scans, PET scans, 3D scans. And with each technology, people said, “Wow, now we can truly see what is going on in there.” Then along comes another that allows us to see more. This raises the question, do we really see what is going on, or are we still in a virtual reality?

How true is this of all that we see? We all have our own experiences and thoughts and emotions and other things that filter and interpret all that we see and do. How many times do two of us see the same thing and experience it very differently?

And is not the reading of the Gospel designed to stretch how we see Jesus? We begin Matthew’s Gospel with his mission only to the lost of the tribe of Israel. But as we go along, we find it growing and growing. To the point that after the resurrection, Jesus tells his Apostles:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The Gospel is the story of a love that is expanding. From the lost of this house, to all the houses, and the homeless and the stranger.

I believe this expanding love is echoed in how we are called to see one another. And it is supposed to expand how we see ourselves. Children of God. Beloved of Christ.

But this is a hard message. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy to say “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Because we can only love another as much as we love ourselves.

We live in a time when divisions are being promoted by the left, the right, and the center. We name and blame and publically shame others, we scapegoat the least of these in our midst, for all our problems and troubles. The blowback from this is that it is not possible to love ourselves as children of God while vilifying others. It is not possible to love others, while naming, blaming, or shaming ourselves.

Or as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “I am going to stick with love. Hate is too heavy a burden to bear.”

So what does it mean to want to truly see Jesus for who he is?

What does it mean that Jesus sees us so fully, so deeply, and still loves us completely?

I think ‎Tom Kelly‎ and ‎Billy Steinberg said it better than I can. They wrote these words in the tradition of old love poetry. If you hear them one time as being sung to a human beloved, the next time hear them sung to God. And if you hear them as sung by another human to you, next time hear them as God’s words, sung to you.

With apologies to Cindy Lauper:

You with the sad eyes
Don’t be discouraged
Oh I realize
It’s hard to take courage
In a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all
And the darkness inside you
Can make you feel so small

But I see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful,
Like a rainbow

Show me a smile then,
Don’t be unhappy, can’t remember
When I last saw you laughing
If this world makes you crazy
And you’ve taken all you can bear
You call me up
Because you know I’ll be there

And I’ll see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful,
Like a rainbow

If this world makes you crazy
And you’ve taken all you can bear
You call me up
Because you know I’ll be there

And I’ll see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors
True colors are shining through

I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful,
Like a rainbow.

— (“True Colors”, ‎Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg, 1986)

Thanks be to God. Amen.