In the audio podcast of this service…
The Scripture Reading starts at 35 min 45 secs:
I Peter 3:1-7

The Sermon starts at 21 min 15 secs:
“Beauty” by Pastor Todd Buurstra

Pastor Todd Buurstra - Pastor of Worship and WitnessIn a beauty-obsessed culture, do we feel more ugly? Just look at these statistics researched by kids from Princeton High School and published in their school paper:

90% of females are dissatisfied with their bodies;

Between the ages of 11 and 13 50% of girls see themselves as overweight;

The average American woman is 5’ 4” and 140 lbs.

The average American model is 5’11” and 117 pounds.

And lastly, 25% of the anorexic cases in the US involve boys—manorexia, its dubbed.

Many feel more ugly today. So, what is beautiful in God’s eyes?
I believe God is calling me to begin with a general theology of beauty and then make a narrower Mother’s Day application to body image and physical beauty.

What is beauty in God’s eyes? First off, we don’t know if Jesus, the God-man, was handsome or ugly. Generally speaking ancient art portrayed him as ugly, because of the cross, and modern art has gussied him up a bit. Really? We don’t know. But this is what we know, if Jesus arose from the dead with a new body and he promised to renew the physical world at his return, then how things look matters. Indeed, God loves beauty.

Why? Because beauty reflects God. Rembrandt’s beautiful paintings and Tyra Bank’s beautiful body are the moon to God’s sun. In the end, God will remake the whole creation to be beautiful like God. So that John’s heavenly vision paints this picture… (Rev. 21:2) a beautiful bride. Paul described the coming new creation…

Wright helps me arrive at this statement: Art in both human bodies and life is to reflect God’s beauty in a way that does not just idolize what is, but includes what will be. Let’s take that theology apart. Idol—why are most Protestant sanctuaries whitewashed and bare? Because the Reformation threw out the art, the statues, in many cases the stained glass windows, so that worshipers wouldn’t substitute art for God. God is calling us to bring art back in. Idolize what is—Some art only glorifies the ugliness of present evil. I think of that controversial art piece of some years ago where this crucifix was doused in urine. It was called piss on Christ. That only glorifies the worst, and most disrespectful part of reality. But includes what will be—Exclusive focus on this is where art can get syrupy, but I love art that balances present reality with future hope. The Peaceable Kingdom is good art because Penn is doing the hard work for peace with the Indians, reality, as a foretaste of the lion lying down with the lamb in God’s future.

So, Holy Spirit, apply this to Mother’s Day. Now I’m asking the lector to read this beautiful, but controversial, passage…. To get to the beauty of God we have to go through the ugliness of man. In Roman culture a husband had absolute authority over his wife, even to the point of killing her without penalty. So women were coming to Christ because they found freedom as equals in the church, as God wants. But how then should they relate to their pagan domineering hubbies? Very carefully, Paul advises. Keep submitting to win them over, thereby showing a beauty beyond hairstyle and clothes. Redefine beauty.

While God’s Spirit has achieved the intended equality between husband and wife, we still need to redefine beauty. Take this letter to Mom that defines beauty the old way…

Proverbs says, Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord shall be praised. We need to redefine beauty to acceptance of our body type, be it tall and skinny, short and stout, big boned, petite. We are beautiful the way God made us. Tell your neighbor: You are beautiful just the way you are… For accepting the way God made us allows us to cultivate an inner beauty of a Christlike character—submission, albeit of hubbie to wife just as much as wife to hubbie, a gentle and quiet spirit, patience, assertive confidence, faithfulness, etc. In short to quote Jessie McCartney, a beautiful soul.
Does anyone, but me, remember the Sesame Street puppet story of the little boy looking for the most bee-uuu-tiful mother in the world? The boy puppet went from Ernie to Bert to Oscar asking, Have you seen the most be-uuu-tiful mother in the world? No, no, no, they said. Until finally she showed up, but she was hardly beautiful. She looked more like a grandmother than a model. Sesame Street was redefining beauty, as God calls us. How can you—father, son, mother, daughter—help the folks around you redefine it today?

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