Jan 15th, 2023: “May the words from my lips and the meditations of our hearts always be pleasing"
Updated: Jan 14
“May the words from my lips and the meditations of our hearts always be pleasing to you O God”
Our Gospel reading today from the 4th Gospel is sandwiched in between the lectionary readings from Matthew. Last Sunday we heard Matthew’s version of the Baptism of Jesus and next Sunday we will return to Matthew. But in the in between weeks we hear from the Gospel of John.
In this telling of the baptism story John relates what happened with the baptism and he gives us a clearer picture of Jesus’ identity. John and two of his disciples are together when John sees Jesus approaching and proclaims him the “Lamb of God”. The 4th evangelist wants the audience to know who Jesus is - there should not - cannot be any doubt. This is the Messiah, this is the word made flesh, this is the Son of God - this is the Lamb of God.
John’s disciples are curious - they are interested and so they follow. When Jesus sees them following he asks a really important question - what are you looking for?
John’s disciples answer - where are you staying? - which seems an odd answer to a seemingly straightforward question.
And Jesus responds with a clear - come and see. This is his invitation to learn more - to spend time with him. And in the 4th Gospel it is clear - they do come and see and then they remain, perhaps listening to his teaching.
John the Baptist has testified to Jesus’ identity and the events of his baptism - here is the lamb of God - here is the Messiah. He has evangelized. And his disciples will do likewise. We are told that it is Andrew who will testify or evangelize his brother Simon. In John’s Gospel Simon is not first - but he is the only one gifted with a nickname.Simon becomes Cephas or Peter or in translation - Rock or Rocky.
These will become Jesus’ first disciples. The first called to “come and see”.
As we read the stories of Jesus’ baptism and the call of the first disciples over these three Sundays it might be easy to gloss over Jesus’ words in John because they are so brief - and there is alot of other “stuff” going on!
But Jesus’ words are important and his question should really frame our lives.
What are you looking for?
What are you looking for?
What are you looking for in Church? What are you looking for at Advent? What are you looking for in your faith formation? What are you looking for in the scriptures and in the sacraments? What are you looking for when you hear the stories about Jesus? What testimony or evangelism are you looking for? What are you looking for in your faith community?
And are you getting it?
Are you testifying to who Jesus is? Are you evangelizing? Are you inviting people to “come and see”? Is there something worth coming to see here?
What is it about this space - this place that makes you want to come and see? And once you know, can you verbalize what it is? Then perhaps you will be ready to invite someone else to come and see as well.
We know that things are different than when the fellowship hall was bursting with Sunday school students. We know things are different from when this Sanctuary was built. We know that things are different than they were before we had heard of COVID 19 or experienced life in a pandemic.
We have more space in the pews than we did before. Members of our family have died, have become unable to attend regularly and for several, can no longer come at all. Not many of our Advent family worship in person each Sunday as perhaps they used to do. Some of our family connect with us online. Some of the Advent family on our contact list have lost contact with us, moving or changing phone numbers and not updating us. Perhaps for some members of the Advent family in person, regular worship no longer fits their schedule.
And there is always the possibility that for some there is no longer a reason to “come and see”.
If you read the newsletters, listen to or read my sermons, read the annual reports you know that for some time there has been discussion about our future. How can we ensure that Advent remains visible, viable and relevant to our family and our community? How can we testify? How can we share the stories of our faith? How can we help to bring hope and comfort and love and joy and welcome to all those who need us to be here when they need us? When we need to be here.
You are probably very familiar with the expression that the only constant is change. Well change has already come. Change will continue to come. What does not change is the love of God, the example of Jesus and the nudging of the Holy Spirit.
We do not have to save anyone - that’s not our job.
But being open to what God is calling us to do is.