SERMON 1/15/12 Epiphany 2B
1 Samuel 3:1-10(11-20) John 1:43-51 As a teenager, my father and I shared a love of aviation that began as a mutually satisfying hobby, but soon it became a life-changing experience. Flying offered me the opportunity to see the beauty of God’s creation, the mighty acts of God from a vantage point I had never witnessed before. Later in life, my love of aviation became so great that I wanted to share the experience with others. With dedicated study and effort I trained to become a Certified Flight Instructor so I could teach others the art of flying. As I committed to this vocation, I practiced frequently, studied diligently and with time, I moved from a mere spectator of the beauty of those lofty heights, to someone who was bringing others along so they too could “come and see.”
Seeing is the act or power of sensing with the eyes. The lack of seeing (blindness) is a common affliction of people who met Jesus, and it was the blind that he frequently healed. To be given sight and to really see the beauty of the life into which God invites us, is at the heart of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Jesus invites us to “come and see” the mighty works of God, the grace of God, the mercy, joy, reconciliation, and wholeness of life in Christ.
In today’s gospel, we learn of a newly minted disciple named Philip. Jesus found Philip as he returned to Galilee. The amazing thing that happened in the narrative, and if you blink you will miss it, is that Philip does in fact follow Jesus. We know this, because his discipleship did not stop with a mere proclamation of faith. Philip goes beyond mere participation and actually goes and finds his friend Nathaniel, whom he invites to “come and see” Jesus. Nathaniel’s response though, “Can anything good come from Nazareth,” was one of cynicism and disbelief. To respond to the “come and see” invitation is to respond to the high calling of discipleship. Sometimes we want to follow Jesus, but we do so with preconceived notions of what that really means. Sometimes we proclaim Jesus as Lord, but we fail to commit to the hard work of really coming to know him. For twenty years, Emma Sue faithfully attended St. Swithins every week. She sat in the same pew every Sunday, gave generously, worked in various ministries, and showed up at every event, but something was missing. Emma’s spiritual practices had fallen by the wayside. She was missing the experience of seeing Jesus everyday, of coming to Jesus for strength, for guidance, for support, for the life she was called to lead. Emma needed to practice her faith. She needed to know Jesus intimately. She needed to practice discipleship.
God invites us to “come and see” what it is like to be the people of God. It is not merely enough to proclaim Jesus as Lord. There is another way of being to which we must commit in order truly to become followers of Jesus. This journey of faith can be a simple one, but it does require us to change. Change is necessary for us to live into God’s vision for us as individuals and for us as a community. Commitment, discipline, and practice are the paths to the Kingdom of God to which we are called. The Most Rev. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury wrote, “And Jesus’ bold proposal was that living in a world, and a community in which God was king was something very simple. To live in this world was what happened when you said ‘yes’ to what Jesus himself was saying and offering; to live under the kingship of God was deciding to live in the company of Jesus and trusting what he said about God and about you.” (http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/2010/07/to-live-in-jesus-company-is-to-become.html)
Living in the company of Jesus means that we need to have conversations with Jesus, we need to study scripture to know what he said about Himself and about us, and we need to serve others as Christ served us. We need to pray, we need to study, and we need to serve. When we say yes to the invitation to “come and see” the bold proposal of the Kingdom of God, we must shift from spectators who see, and prod ourselves into being practitioners – both seers and doers. We must “DO” the faith, live the faith, and be so filled with the grace of the faith that we are compelled to invite others into this way of life. When our lives are filled with God, we will say to others, “Come and See.” A 21stcentury church planter once asserted, “When you fill the parish, (the people of God) with God, God will fill the parish.”
We are filled with the very presence of God living among us, and thus, we should allow God to direct us, guide us, and lift us up as Children of the Most high. We begin by committing to the spiritual practices of prayer, study, and service. Are we ready to follow Jesus? If we do, I am convinced that as the crafter of the Book of Samuel wrote, we will see God “do something (in our very lives) . . . that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle.” (I Samuel 3:1-10 (11-20) NRSV) Are we ready to take the leap, and truly “come and see” what God will do in our lives?