Saturday, January 15, 2011

Come and See

Epiphany 2 Year A             John 1:29-42              January 16, 2010    The Rev.Benton Quest

In today’s gospel lesson, we have one of the great tools of evangelism: it is not very hard and we can all do it.  This tool of evangelism is the simple words of Jesus, “Come and see.”  This is the invitation that Jesus gives in the time of the Bible, it is also the invitation that Jesus used to draw his followers to him and it is still as applicable to us today as it was all those years ago.
When we think about this invitation, we first need to ask ourselves, “Who is it that offered the invitation to ‘Come and see’”?  Well, that is a fairly easy one; it was Jesus, the Master, the Teacher, and the Messiah.  Jesus made this invitation, but it was not only made to John’s followers, Jesus has made this invitation to believers down through the ages.  Jesus invites all believers, and that would include you and me, to “Come and see.”  “Come and see” where life in Christ can and will lead you.  “Come and see” the miracles that Jesus will do in and through you.”  “Come and see” where a journey, undertaken in faith, can and will lead.  Jesus calls John’s followers, and calls all of us, all Christians, to “come and see.”
Since we now know who is making this invitation, the next question would have to be, “To whom was the invitation offered?”  Well, it was offered to two disciples of John, people who were seeking the truth.  Jesus was not offended that John or his followers did not “get” who they were talking to.  Jesus just saw the men before him.  Jesus saw the men, invited the men, called the men to be a part the greatest ministry in all of history.  Jesus invited these simple men.  Jesus gave this invitation to those who was not of high rank or noble birth.  Jesus gave this invitation and this invitation rings down through the ages to us.  Simple as we are; skeptical, doubtful, sinful, and rough around the edges as we are; Jesus sees beyond the here and now of our lives and sees our future; our future in his love and presence.  Jesus called out to John’s disciples, and Jesus calls to us.  Calls us all, just as we are.
If we continue to think about this phrase, “Come and see”, I would hope we would begin to wonder how it applies to each of us as people.  Do we respond to the invitation; opening ourselves to the amazing things that God is doing in our midst and in the world?  Do we really “come and see” or do we stand back and wait?  Do we keep our eyes, ears, and minds open to the possibilities that can be found in Christ?  Or do get so wrapped up in the ordinary everyday world?  Do we lose sight of the possibilities and power that has been promised to each of us just by responding to Jesus’ invitation to “Come and see”?  Or do we only look to the creation that surrounds us and forget about looking to the creator?
As a congregation whose founding call was to be in mission and to keep putting that invitation to come and see the love of Christ in action; how are doing?  Do we offer the invitation only to certain people?  Are we selective?  Do we look for people who think, or act, or look, or believe, or worship like us?  Or do we look beyond the moment, beyond the outward and worldly appearances?  Do we see the presence of Christ and that potential in everyone we encounter?  Or do we only look to see how someone can be of greatest use to us?
If we are selective in offering the invitation, then we are not understanding the ministry and teaching of Christ.  If we are only reaching out to those certain few, then we need to recommit ourselves to reaching the lost, the hurting, the hungry, the disenfranchised, the “outsider”.  There is room on this journey and at Christ’s table not for a select few, but for everyone. 
Imagine if someone in your past had been selective in offering the invitation --- would you be here?  Would you be on this journey with Christ?  I’m not sure if I would be; but I encountered people like Bishop Gibbs and others who invited me to “come and see.”  I encountered people who continued to walk with me and did not cast me out when it was discovered that I was something less than perfect.  I found people, who like Jesus, were able to look beyond the simple skeptic and see the potential that lives within.
But there is another question that still needs to be asked:  Just what was Jesus inviting John’s followers to “come and see?”  What great thing did Jesus have for the disciples that would be worth them turning their whole live upside-down for?  We are never told.  We are told that they came and they stayed with Jesus, but that is all.
If we extend the invitation for someone to “come and see” what is here at St. Swithin's, what will they find?  Will they find life as usual?  Or will they find something beyond what their previous life could have prepared them for?  Will they find the tried and the comfortable?  Or will they find the exciting and the energizing?  If we invite people to come and see, will what they find here be worth the trip?  If we invite people to come and see, will people find a love that will change their lives or will they find a social club?
As I hope you do, I find the love of Christ to be inspiring and life giving.  But for many people, Sunday worship is just another chore in a long list of things that are demanding of a person’s time.  Worship becomes something that saps life instead of restores life.  If we want to invite people to come and see, then we need to be sure that when they get here, they can find the love that Christ is all about.
The easiest way to do that?  Daily step out and look at the world with the eyes of faith.  Trust in the journey that is set before you.  Coming and seeing is not a one time event, it is something that continues throughout our lives.  And if the journey seems to be troubling, continue on knowing that God will not abandon you.  Share the good things you have seen in Christ with those around you.  If you can’t find any good thing that you have in Christ, ask God to open your eyes; they are there, it is just that sometimes we have become blinded by the world.  And always know that Christ doesn’t call the prepared, Christ prepares the called.  And part of that preparation is the call Christ give which brings you here, to the table, to be fed, nurtured, and energized.
Christ’s table is a big table!  Big enough for all to attend.  If you are feeling lost, then please, come to the table and see.  Come and see the love that is there.  And if you know someone who needs to hear the good news, then invite them to the table, invite them to come and see! 
Come and see, that is the call that is given to us, and that is the call we are to spread to the world.  Come and see, a life beyond anything the world can promise.

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