Rev. Debra Jene Collum
Chatfield United Methodist Church
February 5, 2017
Do you believe that you are beautiful?
I heard a story about teenagers who are concerned about crow’s feet. Teenagers! Crows Feet. Honey, they don’t know nothing yet. The only bird’s feet that show up on their face are hummingbird’s.
Do you believe you are beautiful?
As a young person I was told a lot of things about body image. Because I grew up in a fundamentalist church I wasn’t given very many positive messages about body image.
I was told, actually, that this body was pretty much something to be ashamed of. If it wasn’t getting me into trouble it was getting someone else into trouble.
It was Eve after all who seduced Adam into eating the forbidden fruit and Bathsheba who enticed David by her public bathing.
Never mind the obvious arguments about what that says about men’s ability to think on their own and turn their eyes away from temptation.
O I was told as a young Christian woman to keep myself beautiful and to make sure that who ever saw me could see beauty because then God would be pleased with me. I was even told that I would do well in the ministry as long as I kept myself good looking. I remember that clearly.
And these messages from our youth are hard to get rid of. Young people, if you think your parents are obsessed as you are about outward appearances just in a different and stranger way, you are right.
At the age of 28, Isabelle Caro, a French model, died from the effects of anorexia. About the disease she suffered from since the age of 13, Caro wrote: I wish we could treat our bodies as the place we live from, rather than regard it as a place to be worked on, as though it were a disagreeable old kitchen in need of renovation and update.” (MWP Feb 2011)
A disagreeable old kitchen. How is that for a metaphor for how we view ourselves?
In need of renovation. Instead of the place we live from…the place our creator has given us to live from…regardless of hummingbird feet or crows feet or vultures feet lurking at the corners of our eyes.
Regardless of ability or lack of ability, or disease or dis-ease?
What if we saw ourselves, our whole selves, body included as beautiful. Not something we make beautiful to please God or anyone else. But already 100% beautiful!
Because I believe that God doesn’t need us to make ourselves beautiful for God, as I was taught and we unconsciously still teach, I think God sees us as beautiful. Each and everyone of us, right now, right here.
I want you all, for just this moment, believe that. Believe that right now while I re-read the Gospel lesson from Matthew 5 (the Message)
"Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. If I, God, make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you?
I'm putting you on a light stand. On a light stand—shine!”
God obviously thinks you are beautiful. God wants to show you off, put you up on a stand, on a hill, so that others can see you and see your light. Your beauty. Your radiance.
Julia Sewell grew up in Minneapolis, an African America woman who was, by her definition, plus-sized. Here is what her mother said to her growing up: You are beautiful and you carry a light in you that neither man or woman can put out.”
You are beautiful and you carry a light…what a blessing this mother gave to her daughter. Julia believed this message, even when others wanted to put out her light and call her fat.
Julia writes: beauty is the process of identifying one’s light and learning to shine it as brightly as possible.” (MWP Feb 2011)
God has not only given you the beauty that God wants to place on a lamp stand so that the world can see, God has also given you the light. You are here to be a beautiful light, bringing out the God colors in the world.
This is a sermon on self-esteem. But not in the sense of becoming more beautiful or more success or more of anything because you believe yourself to be capable of something more.
This is about you already being beautiful. Already being light bearers, Already being everything God wants you to be.
So that others can see the God colors in the world.
You carry within you God’s rainbow.
So here is my question of you. When you walk out the doors of this church what happens to the God colors in the world?
Do you shine with them? Or are they a little dullish? They are there. God has said that. You are beautiful. God has set you on a lamp stand. God has turned on the light.
God colors are right there ready to be revealed.
What might be keeping them from showing through quite so brightly? What might we do that will hide them under a bushel?
Think of someone you know whose light shines brightly and colorfully. Do you think they think they are beautiful? But you do, don’t you? You think they are beautiful. Well, I bet there are people who think you are beautiful, too. Because of the light, the rainbow of light that shines from within you.
Now, all we have to do is believe it. All we have to do is live as if the rainbow that is within us is already shining brightly.
I know that people in this town and in the world want to see God colors. They want to hear that God is present. That God is loving them right here right now
That God has something for them and this world.
I know this because I have experienced it.
This is also what this passage says, Listen again. You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God.
By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God,
The question is being asked, what will happen to The Church in the future.
I cannot answer that question. But I do know this: If we believe we are beautiful God sees us.
And if we act out of that beauty.
If we believe that we are here to bring out the God colors of the world
And if we continue together to discover just what those colors are, courageously allowing God to reveal more and more beautiful colors to us, colors we never expected to see.
And if we become so overjoyed with those colors that we can’t help but share them with others, we will prompt people to open up with God. And shine with their beautiful colors.
What happens next, we can only begin to imagine.