Turn your eyes upon Jesus.

In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey talks about a phenomenon he calls a paradigm shift. It happens when new information radically changes your understanding of a situation or life or reality itself. His illustration involved riding on a subway train on a Sunday morning in New York. He was quietly enjoying his newspaper, but several children were horse-playing all around him and their apparent father wasn’t doing anything to control them.  Covey got irritated, until he finally asked the father if he could settle them down a bit.  The father quickly apologized and explained that their mother had just died and they didn’t know what to do.  And he didn’t either.

Do you see the shift? In a flash, Covey went from irritation to sympathy, from drawing a boundary to leaping to aid this man in the midst of this family crisis and tragedy. Once we know the full picture, our hearts leap to empathy, sympathy and aid.

Camp Wingmann registration opened this weekend. But I started recruiting for the camp weeks ago. 

I’m encouraging families, pushing as hard as I can without offending, every child and youth entering grades 3-12 in this church and any friends they can recruit to go. And no child should miss camp for financial reasons. This is a passion Fr. Tom and I share – he’s the camp’s board president and I’m his trusty sidekick. We will each devote a week this summer to serve as chaplain to the campers and staff. Good Shepherd has sent a lot of kids to camp and a number have become counselors. We love it. 

Why?

We want children and youth to experience that paradigm shift that happens when we come to know Jesus. It changes everything.  We want that for these kids and we want it for everyone. I long for it day after day for myself.

Which brings us to beholding the face of Jesus.

What do we really know about the face of Jesus?  He’s one of the most painted and drawn figures in history.  Perhaps when you think of him one of those comes to mind – a thin, very strong Palestinian Jewish man; perhaps a beard, brown skin, brown hair. We have him all around us in stained glass. But Jesus never sat for a portrait, of course.

Whatever you may envision, are we not drawn to his eyes?  What does his face say?  Love, true rest and peace reside in him.  True love means also conviction, atonement, and healing from our sins as well as our infirmities.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full in his wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of his glory and grace.

Peter, James and John are brought into this very special moment where the face of Jesus changes.  It literally says, “His face different” and his clothes dazzling white.

Something changed – far beyond the 200 muscles in his face making an expression.  They are seeing him for who he truly is, for the first time. Jesus is transfigured before them – which means they are seeing him differently.  Then comes their paradigm shift. They are transformed by him.  From that moment, and other moments that will come, he will continue to change them.

In the moment, Peter makes a very natural correlation between Jesus, Moses and Elijah.  Moses was the formational leader who received and delivered the Law of God, handed down during the Exodus, which shaped the life of Israel as a nation.  Life as a society and also the individual daily life of each person was to be lived in a way that honored God. His face shone after his encounters with God, underscoring the authority of those commandments.

Elijah is more or less the prophet’s prophet.  His return is associated with the restored life of Israel, their special relationship as God’s chosen people brought to fulfillment. 

People want to see Jesus in each of these ways – even today. 

We take very seriously Jesus’ instructions on how we should live.  His “law of love” bears forward the demands of the Law – loving God, neighbor as ourselves and everything that as Jesus himself describes flows from those core principles.  And so we uphold Jesus as the one who would set our society and our daily lives back to holiness and honoring God.  He is very much in that way the new Moses, for his disciples of the first century and his disciples of the 21st century.

Likewise, his role akin to the new Elijah is true.  He is the one who confronts the wrongs of society and within our own hearts with the Word of the living God.  We stand convicted of our sin and called to repentance, to seek God’s forgiveness and amend our ways.

So like Peter many of us are tempted to grasp onto one or both of those perceptions of Jesus and rest there.  Build a shelter, a dwelling where we can get all cozy and honor him.

God does not leave Peter or us with that option.

God says, “This is my son, the chosen One.  Listen to him.”

Turning our eyes again upon Jesus, we are to see that he is much more than the new Moses or the new Elijah, though both of those are clearly part of the truth.  He is the Son of the living God.  When we look in his face we see God.  We see our lives not as they are but as they will be according to God’s perfect will and his plan for our salvation. 

We see in him healing of those desperately broken parts of our minds, bodies and spirits.  We see in him hope for things that seem to us impossible.

All of this was accomplished in Jerusalem, on the cross, to which he must go with all that he is. For our children. For you.  For me.  For the world.

Seeing him clearly enables him to lead us throughout our lives, whatever we face.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full in his wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of his glory and grace.

AMEN