2nd Sunday after Epiphany
January 18, 2015
John 1: 35-51
Come and see. These are words to invite to evoke to offer an opportunity. In the preaching workshop from which I’ve just returned, our topic was “Preaching in Times of Transition.” The session in which the presenter talked about our times and the powers against which we struggle to be God’s people was the one that made the biggest impression on me. She wanted us to recognize that times of transition that it is the hardest to focus on our common work as God’s people.
There are powers in the world that strive against peace and unity and all the things we come to church to learn and practice. They are the powers that distract and divide us. That keep us from recognizing our common humanity and put us at war with people who don’t agree with us. They are the powers that fan our fears and manipulate us into buying what we don’t need and craving what is not good for us. Those same powers separate us by even in our worship and common life, making it harder for us to love each other.
Just coming to church is an act of defiance against the powers that want to manipulate us into hopelessness, fear, outrage, and despair. We come together to hear the Word which stands among us telling us that we are God’s beloved. That Word, Jesus, sends us out into the weary, fearful world with God’s promises of belonging, of caring, of healing and reconciliation. The world we live in can be a dangerous place, but we are gathered by the power that has already defeated the powers that can keep us apart.
In this morning’s readings we hear God’s invitation to “come and see.” John the Evangelist tells us that the Baptizer sent his own followers to Jesus, having seen the Spirit descend on him when he was baptized. As they tag along behind Jesus, he asks them, “What are you looking for?” These are the first words spoken by Jesus in John’s Gospel, and the writer is asking us, you and me, the same question. What are we looking for in reading Jesus’ story? What is it we hope to get out of this? Come and see, says Jesus. Andrew brings his brother Simon, “Come and See,” he says. Philip brings his friend Nathaniel, “Come and See.” Nathaniel, the one who was studying Scripture under the fig tree the day before, is skeptical that the Messiah could come from such a berg as Nazareth. But he is convinced by Jesus’ recognition of his longing to know more. Jesus sees straight into the hearts of these people who want to know more, who have been waiting for this day. It’s our invitation, too, you know. In one way or another, Jesus has seen straight into your heart to invite you to come and see the good news of what God can do in your life, and then in our lives together.
It’s in our life here together that we stand against the powers that would divide the world into us and them, into winners and losers. In our struggles to be faithful to the grace of God’s love shown to us in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus, we share the power of that love to change the world. We are invited to change course, to repent, to live out of another reality. God came in person to tell us that we are not alone. We gather to hear once again that God knows our brokenness and woundedness and heals us. We can give up our striving to be good enough and rest in the knowledge that we are truly loved unconditionally. No matter your fear, no matter your failure, no matter your worry, you can trust that God welcomes you into God’s house and God’s presence.
It’s our gift to the world to be the bearers of this message of hope and healing. We have been invited to be the agents of healing and hope for others. You can listen with compassion, you can choose not to buy products made through exploitation of workers, you can offer your time to feed people and your money to provide shelter. You can invite friends to come with you to hear about the love and power that changed the world for you when you learned about God’s love in Jesus. You can offer the power of grace and forgiveness to change lives and fill the emptiness that nothing else can fill.
In a world that is chaotic and dangerous, we share the one thing that never changes; God’s love for people and God’s power to heal our broken hearts. What is it you would say when someone asks you why you come to church? Jesus asks “what are you seeking?” Maybe the next question is “what have you found?” Perhaps the best invitation is still, “come and see.”
Now may the peace which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.