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.
I remember singing the words to this sweet (maybe even saccharine!) hymn in a dimly lit chapel at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Winter Park, Florida as a young teenager. We would always close our youth group meeting with a quiet service of Compline in the little chapel. The two texts we would sing were, invariably, the Nunc Dimittis and this little song.
For all its simplicity, the words convey the central theme of the Transfiguration which we celebrate this Sunday, and perhaps the central claim of the Christian faith. Which is: that when we look at Jesus of Nazareth, we can see all we need to know about God.
Our complicated trinitarian dogmas enshrined in fourth-century creeds attempt to tell us a whole lot more about God than that and they were noble attempts to explain the unexplainable and define the indefinable. But they often do more harm than good when they are seen as a kind of theological litmus test for ‘true believers.’
The God of the universe, the Source of all that is, the Ground of our very Being is far beyond anything we can fathom or get our minds around. But our claim, as Christians, is that — just like Peter, James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration — when we turn our eyes upon Jesus. And look full on his wonderful face. Then the things of earth (including our need to say more than we need to say about God ) will grow strangely dim. In the light of his glory and grace.
When we look at Jesus, we can see all we need to know about God.