calendar May 10, 2013 in Assembly, Bishop, Bishop messages, Communications, Faith in action, Mission

See Through “Jesus Colored Glasses”

At the opening worship of the 2013 Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod, Bishop Claire Burkat challenged the assembly to focus on God-sight as Philip did in the gospel of John. After having been invited by Jesus to follow him, Phillip saw things through “Jesus-colored glasses.” The bishop urged SEPA Lutherans to be Philips – and our congregations to be Philip communities, too.

“When your vision shifts and comes into focus in such a dramatic, life-changing way, you want others to experience this same thing,” said Burkat.

The bishop shared her own family history of cataracts that not only cloud one’s vision but caused her ancestors on her maternal side with brown eyes to go blind by the age of 40. This happened in the generations prior to cataract surgery. She, herself, has implants in both eyes.

“I remember the first time I saw without the film on my right eye,” she said. “It was October and I was startled by the sharp colors of the leaves—bright orange and vivid red.”

“Jesus-colored Glasses” from SEPA Synod on Vimeo.

Burkat shared the story of Christ the King Church of the Deaf which has a strong ministry with the Valley View Home for the Aged Deaf and Deaf-Blind in Delaware County. Worship is conducted with pairs of chairs facing each other. During worship, the deaf sign the service into the hands of the deaf-blind in front of them. She invited Pastor Beth Lockard and several others forward to demonstrate this for the assembly.

“My eyes were opened to a deep truth the first time I saw this. You do not need physical sight in order to have God-sight,” she said.

Each of us is called to be Philip for those around us, inviting them to come and see.

When you look at the world with God-sight, everything becomes clearer, both negatively and positively. You are able to see the beauty, but also the injustice in the world and all your senses are opened to God in our presence.

“But we will need to wash the sleep out of our eyes, remove the cataracts from our vision, and get the right prescription for our Jesus-colored glasses,” she said.

Burkat said we need three pairs of corrective glasses with which to view the world. Those correcting near-sightedness help us to see past ourselves and our own needs to God’s vision for us. Those correcting far-sightedness help us to see the vision of the person who wants to encounter Jesus through us, much like the Greeks approached Philip to see Jesus. And reading glasses assist us in reading the Bible where Jesus is always present to us and others.

“Today and tomorrow we are offering you different lenses to try on, different ways to see and encounter Jesus,” said Burkat.

She encouraged all those present to carry these tools back to their congregations so they can invite others to “come and see, hear, taste, smell, touch and feel that the Lord is good.”

“You wish to see Jesus?” she asked. “Come. And. See.”

— Rev. Sue Lang