In the name of the divine mystery, and the savior, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
"Hi, can I please talk to the person who preached yesterday at the crusade?"
"Yeah sure, I am the one, what can I do for you?"
"I would like to talk to a person who preached yesterday, not you."
"Yes, I know what you mean, I am the one who preached at the crusade yesterday. Don’t you trust me?"
"Of course, I trust you, but the person who preached yesterday had a red skin."
My friends, this is part of the conversation that happened a couple of years ago. It was me talking to someone I never met before. I had preached at the crusade on the previous day and the following day this person came to us asking to talk to a person who preached a day before not knowing that I was the one. This person refused to believe that it was me that he was looking for, because according to him the preacher had a red skin, and I have a dark skin.
Here we are on the transfiguration Sunday which some prefer to identify it as, “Quinquagesima” which is the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, I wonder if that day I was transfigured just like Jesus. The gospel for today tells us about Jesus taking three of his disciple Peter, James, and John whom some call, “Jesus' best friends” and some say it could have been that they were the three most likely to get into trouble, so He kept them close to keep an eye on them. Jesus goes up to the mountain and he was transfigured before them.
The gospel according to Luke Chapter 9:28 tells us the reason why Jesus went up on the mountain – it says he went to pray. Verse 29 goes further and tells us at what time Jesus was transfigured. It says that Jesus was transfigured as he was praying. This takes us back to the book of Exodus 34:29-35 where the Bible tells us about another person who was also transfigured and gives the reason for his transfiguration. This was Moses. The Bible says that as Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. My friends it is very important to note that Both Moses and Jesus were transfigured when they had been praying, when they had been talking with God. There is a glory of God that we encounter when we pray.
As believers, I wonder how often we talk with God, do we pray only when we face trials and temptations? God needs to have a good relationship with their children, this relationship is built through prayer.
I think this is why Christ Church Cathedral has intentionally been offering several prayer sessions; Morning prayers on Facebook, Monday to Friday and the office of compline every weekday on Facebook Live. Let us make a good use of these prayer opportunities while they are still available especially at this Lenten season we enter.
According to the Wiersbe Bible commentary, “The word transfigured describes a change on the outside that comes from the inside. It is the opposite of ‘masquerade,’ which is an outward change that does not come from within.” This simply means that for the transfiguration to happen, the change must start from inside.
As we celebrate Black History Month it is my humble prayer that we may all be transfigured. We may all experience outward change that comes from the inside. As people of faith, we are all called to love and to do justice. This can be done if and only if we are all willing to be changed from inside, to be changed on how we live with our neighbors who do not look like us and how we embrace this beautiful diversity.
My friends, for so long some Bible passages like the gospel assigned for today have been used to separate white from black and to allot the white color with holiness, cleanliness, and anything good while on the other side the black color has been associated with darkness and anything that is bad or evil. Some other people decided to go far and created a white Jesus as a tool for the justification that one race is superior to the other.
I am from East Africa, in my country just like in many African countries, missionaries brought us this white Jesus, he was introduced to us and we received him without knowing that they were trying to win our psychology so that they can easily colonize us. The most popular Jesus’ film in Tanzania, the one that I used to watch since I was a kid (I am not watching it anymore) had a white Jesus and most of the images of Jesus in most of our churches were of white Jesus. As a kid this made me believe that Jesus was white, Yes, I also believed that even God was a white guy too and that made me believe that everyone who looked like Jesus was superior.
My friends, things like this have been done not by strangers, but by some of our fellow people of faith, it is the same Bible that has been used to justify what they do. It is our time now, for me and you to change this history. This change must start from within us. We cannot go to change the world if we, ourselves have not been changed from inside.
Someone has said, there are three groups of people in this world. The first group is of those who once they die their names die with them because they did not do anything that would keep their names alive when they are gone. The second group is of those who once they die their names will live for ever because of the bad things they did while they were alive, and the last group is of those who once they die their names will live for ever because of the good things they did while they were alive.
My friends, as we enter the Lenten season and celebrate Black History Month, I encourage you to spend time with God in prayer and be willing to accept the change within and then become the change in the world, to love and to do justice. Amen.