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Fourth Sunday of Easter May 11, 2014

In Living Color     Prof. Patricia G. Bleicher

In the name of God the Source of who we are, God the Example of how we should love, and God the Presence with us now.  Amen.

Here’s how our Culture sees it: Kodachrome.  Kodachrome changed everything. Until it was invented in 1935, there was life, and there was image reproduction, and they had absolutely nothing to do with each other. Books were black and white, photographs were sepia, and whatever else we saw printed was on a gray scale – dead, dead, dead. As Paul Simon says: “Everything looks worse in black and white.”

Then Kodachrome happened, and we could see color as it was lived: flowers were not just red, but cerise or magenta or blush or peach or heliotrope or, well, you get the idea. “Kodachrome / it gives us those nice, bright colors/ it gives us the greens of summer / it makes all the world a sunny day, oh yeah…”

Other reproduction processes created muddy or supersaturated colors but, until digital drove it out of the market in 2009, Kodachrome changed everything; it changed the way we see, changed the way we are.  As one critic said:  “Kodachrome had…poetry in it, a softness, an elegance.” It made us different, to see in living color.

That was a revelation, and I’m using revelation I the strictest theological sense: it was an unveiling.  “Oh, yes!” we said; “that’s how things really are!”

Well, some people here now may not grasp how much we were changed by the truth in Kodachrome, but they do see the difference between black and white tv and NBC’s peacock Color or today’s high-definition television.

There’s another Cultural reference from the past, and it’s still giving joy as a revelation for persons whose grandparents weren’t born when it was created: Technicolor.

Until 1922, color reproduction for films was pathetic. It was so unnatural and inadequate, no one could mistake those earlier images for the real thing. But Technicolor came along, and OMG.  “Yes! Yes!” we say, “Real life is like that!”

Technicolor was invented in 1922, and what great movie came along in 1939?

“The Wizard of Oz” begins inside a Kansas tornado filmed in what? Black and white. Then, as soon as Dorothy Gale lands, it makes a transition to what? Color! Not just any color, but color as it’s actually experienced by ordinary eyes of ordinary human beings”

The brick road is yellow
The slippers are ruby red
And EmeraldCity is actually emerald green!

The transition from black and white to Technicolor in that movie – made so long ago but still being shown year after year around the world – illustrates not just technology, but a different way of seeing and being.  People moved toward authenticity. Women gave up little circles of rouge in the center of the cheek and Cupid’s-bow lips; men gave up fake Valentino hair with all its pomade. We found we could see people as they really are, and love them in all their beauty and quirkiness and real life. We can see in living color, and that seeing made us different.

Jesus said: “I am come that you might have life, and that you might have it more abundantly.”  What he meant was: “Look! Now you can see things in living color.”

How would your world be change in living color? Think about it.

First, Jesus would take care of the bad stuff, so the film of guilt would be peeled away, and there’d be greater clarity. “I can see your true colors come shining through; that’s why I love you.”

A film of guilt distorts our vision, so letting Jesus take care of guilt for us is the first step to loving God and our neighbors. I know when I messed up, but all that is peeled away and it can’t distort my vision any more. Now I can perceive how wonderful you are, and I’m filled with wonder at the children of God.

In living color, we can see the path ahead more clearly. The yellow of that brick road glows like a lighted safety ramp – look here: this is the way! No, don’t go wandering off into the darkness, trying to be something you’re not…this way! In living color, you can see your way to the place where you are meant to be, using the gifts you can see that you have.  You can discern what’s real.

More than that, you can also see who’s with you on the trail. Living color shows it: happy trails to you!  In living color, you are never alone. You can perceive the One who “will not leave you nor yet forsake you.”  And you can see the friends you’ve been sent, the ones who also know what it’s like to live in color.

In living color, you get no special favors, no matter what the Prosperity Gospel folks may tell you…but the very experience of living is richer and fuller an deeper and more joyful. And, when tough stuff does happen, suffering comes to every life, you’ll be able to appreciate the color of hope…which sparkles, I think….and which has not just feathers, but peacock feathers.

So, freedom from guilt, help with discerning what’s real, a glowing path ahead, never being alone, feeling the love, visible companions and sparkling hope. Wow.

Sadly, some people harumph: Pretty words, pretty words, but I’ve no idea what that means in real life.  Do you see how the sepiatone washes up? If you deny that color exists, you’ve made yourself color blind.

Here’s what I know: you can seek the experience of more abundant living, and you may find it. But sometimes the Creator of living color brings it…sometimes God just whops you upside the head and gives you a glimpse of what things are really like. Suddenly, you look up or turn your head just a little and – bam! Everything’s in color, at peace, ruled by love. That is a soul experience, and a soul reality. Sometimes, it just happens; we can’t make it happen; we just watch for it to happen.

C.S. Lewis was a hard-headed academic agnostic, and then one day he  set out for London. “When I boarded the bus,” he said, “I was not a Christian. When I got off the bus, I had all the proof I needed. It happened all of a sudden, that peace and understanding that made me see differently. It was so beautiful, I tried and tried to make it happen again. But there was no bait to which that bird would come.”

When you get a glimpse of what’s real in living color, it can knock your socks off. Not because you  did anything holy or churchy or even decent, but just because you are, and the real you is truly loved…and the real God is longing to show you what living in color looks like. Today I affirm the great truth that God contacts people directly, even agnostics, even atheists.  God says: “Wanna see something cool? Look! Look at this! Here is what the world looks like, thoroughly colored by love…here is what relationships look like, what work is your calling, what is worth all the risks.”

Jesus said: “I am come that you might have life, and that you might have it more abundantly.”  God will let you see that if you will only stop, look and listen.

Wanna see something cool?  Look…the color of LIFE!

Suddenly you and Toto are not in Kansas any more. You realize everything does look worse in black and white, so your soul moves to a new place where abundant living is the norm. There, you are upheld by goodness, and you know you can entrust yourselves to the goodness.

There, you are surrounded by color and breathing in color and living the life color makes possible for you. In living color, our first obligation is just to pay attention and take it all in. Our best response is not Amen, but wow.    Wow.