“More than Meets the Eye” – sermon for Transfiguration 2020

What I see

I want to make sense to me.

a tree, it may be small or tall, with leaves or none at all, but it is still had better be a tree.

That is its name, its label, its category. I want it to make sense to me, all that I see.

But don’t think this penchant, this passion, this patterning is limited to flora and fauna. Our minds, our culture, systematizes categorizes, into either this-es or that’s-es. Boy or girl,  pink or blue, rich or poor, republican/ democrat, urban / rural, good / bad. Life is easier when it’s all black or white. When what we/I/we see, makes sense to me.

It may be simpler, faster, easier, but it’s not any truer.

Oh, we like to think this is a modern or post-modern politically correct invention the most current and faddish challenge to convention. 

But since in the beginning, God’s had something to say about all that. A tree is not always just a tree. It can be a thing of beauty in the garden, or a -temptation—a temptation to climb and consume for growth and development, a tree is also danger and death, the forbidden fruit.

There’s always more than meets the eye. As it was in the beginning—even if we didn’t know it or acknowledge it—even if we didn’t want to see it—it was there. There’s always more than meets the ey.

Just like today—in our scripture.  We call today transfiguration. This story of Jesus up on the mountain top, as he is changed, transformed, with diving shining on and from forth from him— like thousands of sequins, and glitters, all dazzling and glorious.  

While in our story, this transformation suddenly appears. It’s not like Jesus didn’t have it in, with, and under his skin all along. The divine co-mingled with the mundane. And this isn’t the first time, a voice booms out announcing, “This is my Beloved”. 

This isn’t for many of us, and it isn’t in the gospels, something we couldn’t have seen coming. Jesus has been all around saying things like —the kingdom of God; the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  It’s here.  Heaven, God’s reign, rule, reality. Not up in some other space or dimension.  But here. In a pharisee’s house, on a boat with guys fishing, with women disciples, with the sick and bleeding.

Jesus has been telling us, there’s more than meets the eye. You are not just the pain and trauma you’ve experienced.  You are not just what the world labels you. You are beloved too.  You are part and parcel of God’s kingdom, reign, rule, and reality. You are both and. 

Now, of course we know the LGBT+ community and people, are not just a bunch of sinners headed towards hell (as so many Christians have and do still preach). But they like other people pushed and categorized as marginalized are not just people we say we stick up for or stand up for.  But they are also our teachers, wise, and aware people we can learn from them as they welcome gender fluidity.  Through and from them we are learning there isn’t just boy or girl, pink or blue but a whole rainbow of glorious colors there’s not just gay or straight but a whole array queer- of love that isn’t just this or that or this and definitely not that. It should be no surprise that for some LGBT+ Christians this gospel story is particularly powerful and meaningful. As it celebrates holy multi-dimensionality. Jesus in himself being both, this and that—human and divine-not confinable to one category.

And, as I mentioned earlier, this is nothing new.  Especially for any of us who just might have been born and bread Lutherans—who might have heard the language of now and not yet, words like sinner and saint, in with and under.  Because every Sunday as we come to this table, we see bread and juice, but it is also way more than that. For at this table—in with and under the bread is the body, a body of love and sacrifice, a body of corporal and corporeal compassion, community of communion. In this holy space and in this time, God’s potent spirit moves us out of simple binary—this or that, to holy ambiguity and mystery and unbounded beauty as we not only listen to God’s beloved son, but touch and feel, taste and see, and not just in bread and cup, but in blood, bone, and body of one another we see the more than meets the eye. Amen.

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