“Seen But Not Known” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell
I hope that this email finds you well and warm. As I looked back on this week, I saw so many of you posting online about the incredible ministries that you participated in. Whether it is a church ministry or one that you are a part of outside the church, please let us know how we can continue to support you. I am so thankful for a church that knows the work of God calls us into the world in community building and justice seeking ways.
I have a phone that opens when I look at it. Facial recognition software is something that I recognize is here to stay but at the same time makes me a little weary. For example, this morning I woke up and went to check my phone, but it didn’t recognize my face and open. It asked me for my password as a confirmation that I was who I said I am. It was mildly annoying but nothing to be bothered by. I checked my email and messages, and then with still half-closed eyes from sleep, I went to brush my teeth. I got to the bathroom to realize that my pillow had left a bright red mark across my face. It was obviously still me looking back in the mirror, but I now understood why my phone may not have recognized me. It got me thinking about this week’s scripture and the changes that Jesus goes through both physically and spiritually in order to prove who he was to the disciples. Let’s read together from the book of Luke.
28 About eight days after saying this, Jesus took Peter, John and James and went up onto a mountain to pray. 29 While Jesus was praying, his face changed in appearance and the clothes he wore became dazzlingly white. 30 Suddenly two people were there talking with Jesus – Moses and Elijah. 31 They appeared in glory and spoke of the prophecy that Jesus was about to fulfill in Jerusalem.
32 Peter and the others had already fallen into a deep sleep, but awakening, they saw Jesus’ glory – and the two people who were standing next to him. 33 When the two were leaving, Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, how good it is for us to be here! Let’s set up three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah!” Peter didn’t really know what he was saying.
34 While Peter was speaking, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and the disciples grew fearful as the others entered it. 35 Then from the cloud came a voice which said, “This is my Own, my Chosen One. Listen to him!”
36 When the voice finished speaking, they saw no one but Jesus standing there. The disciples kept quiet, telling nothing of what they had seen at that time to anyone. (Luke 9:28-36)
Like this scripture and my phone, I am curious about the ways we are seen but not always known. Who do we present ourselves as, as opposed to who we truly are? Can we be both? This is an important question when talking and thinking about who Jesus is to us, and what it means to act like or follow him. Jesus was not just a man. He was and is fully divine. But he had to show multiple versions of himself to prove who he said he was and be believed. If we did that to Jesus, we surely do that to the rest of the kindom.
What would it take for us to believe someone when they share who they are? What does it look like for us as individual and as a community, to let people be multiple things- intersectional people- people of God but also people of the kindom, flawed and perfect? Our scripture shares that God told them who Jesus was even after he showed them- to make them believe. But that doesn’t mean that we have to do the same. The voice of God is within us. Sharing our truth and asking those in our community to believe us when we show them who we are. But it is hard. Especially when it goes against our personal or social understanding of someone. But that is what it takes to build the kindom. Grace and faith. A combination of both word and action. But unlike the disciples, we are prepared for the miracles that are unfolding in our midst every day. Scripture tells us that God is at work in the here and now. We just have to believe it when we see it.
Friends, I hope this week you are seen and believed for what you are- a child of God. And may you know that God created you, and called you to this life, and will speak this truth when others – and maybe even you- have trouble believing it.
A quick prayer for your week: Lord, I am a child of God. A servant to your good work. Amen