2nd Sunday after Epiphany

Sermon Title: 2nd Sunday after Epiphany
Date: 15th January 2017
Preacher: Rev’d Susanne Chambers
Lectionary Reading: Isaiah 49:1-7, Psalm 40, 1-14, 1 Corinthians 1:1-9, John 1:29-42

Living presence, calling us to give what we most treasure in your service, as you called your Beloved to reveal your glory to humankind. Give us the courage to respond to your invitation, wholeheartedly and without reserve, and give us good cheer to help us on the Way.  We pray this in the Spirit of the living Jesus, embraced for ever in your glory. Amen.

… and give us good cheer to help us on the Way. What a wonderful, positive thing to say!  Give us good cheer… to me those simple words are very encouraging, when we may wonder yet again the question:  ‘What we are looking for’.

In the gospel of John, these are the first words on Jesus’ lips to the two disciples of John the Baptist, who heard John say ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!’ the two disciples then start following Jesus, and he turns and says ‘what are you looking for?. Or it could be interpreted, what are you seeking?     What do you hope to find?        What do you need?     What do you long for?

What a great question to ask then and now.  What is it that each of us are looking for?  Some examples might be:

“Is it relationships in a world increasingly isolated and isolating world?

Is it community in an individualistic and often lonely culture?

Is it hope and courage when headlines inspire fear and despair?

Is it Sabbath rest in a 24/7 world where relentless busy-ness has become a badge of honour and is regularly substituted for meaningful activity and necessary rest.”[i]

Is it to know yourself more?

You may have your own response to ‘what are you looking for or you may not be quite sure what you are seeking… but it’s something more, something deep within you than what you have now.

The disciples respond to Jesus question by asking where is he staying. And again, this isn’t simply where do you live, but really, what drives you Jesus? What are you all about?

And Jesus response is, “Come and see.” It’s an invitation to not just follow but to get to know Jesus. They accept the invitation and they ‘came and saw where he was staying and they remained with him that day.’[ii]

Did you notice that Jesus didn’t give the disciples an answer but instead offered an invitation? Come and see! It’s an invitation for the disciples to get to know Jesus, more than just a quick answer which still may not satisfy the one asking the question.

You may recall last week at the baptism of young Sadie that I shared a man’s reflection on infant baptism who said “but there is something mystical about our gathering around this still embryonic person, about her need for us and our passion to attend to her.  Perhaps this type of baptism is not about individuals coming to decision but about persons-in-relationship? … perhaps infant baptism is the unveiling of interdependency, the antidote to the isolation of sin?” [iii]

Persons-in-relationship is what Jesus is always on about and so here, he issues an invitation which is naturally relational.

People may begin to walk after Jesus because that’s what others have said to do, but Jesus turns and looks at them and asks what do you desire?

The invitation is to ‘come and see’ and is always up to the individual to take up that invitation and then take the journey with Jesus.

Part of the Prayer of the Day today said: ‘Give us the courage to respond to your invitation, wholeheartedly and without reserve, and give us good cheer to help us on the Way.’  And it takes courage to stay with Jesus when all around seem to be saying ‘don’t bother’; it’s not true; belonging to a community of faith… well, they don’t seem to be any better than those who don’t belong and besides, I know people who don’t believe and they are such good people!

So why do you and I stay?

Have we responded to the calling of Jesus ‘come and see’ and have found something ‘more’ in him than we imagined. Did we initially come because someone told us to…like our parents, but we have ‘caught’ the faith in Jesus for ourselves over time?

So be of good cheer even when the going gets tough and you are unsure of your faith, or find it difficult to share your faith with others or even to say to them ‘come and see’.

It’s good to remember that we may say ‘come and see’ or share our faith, but in the end it is God in Christ who is working through us to invite others.  So don’t despair if you struggle to invite or articulate your faith.

It is worth pondering the question ‘what are you looking for?” as individuals, as a congregation and as communities since our answers will have a great deal to do with what we find as well as with the journey we take to get there. What are you seeking? What motivates you? What is that you really need, not just on the surface, but deep down into the core of your being what are you looking for?

If we can look at these questions we have more confidence in saying ‘come and see’ or saying something about your faith or just being ok in your skin and then it’s up to God working through us.

Audrey West wrote in her commentary on this passage said “Indeed, this answer of Jesus to ‘come and see’, captures a primary message of John’s gospel: if you want to know the word made flesh, come and see Jesus.  If you want to know what love is like, come and see Jesus. If you want to experience God’s glory, to be filled with bread that never perishes, to quench your thirst with living water, to be born again, to abide in love, to behold the light of the world, to experience the way, the truth, and the life, to enter into life everlasting… if you want to know God, come and see Jesus.”[iv]

The Lord be with you.

 

[i] …In the Meantime by David Lose 2017

[ii] John 1:39a

[iii] Folloiwng Love into Mystery- The spiritual Wisdom of the Gospels for Christian Preachers and Teachers by John Shea.

[iv]  Working Preacher website: Audrey West Adjunct Professor of New Testament
Lutheran School of Theology
Chicago, IL