SERMON 1/17/21 Epiphany 2B St Martin of Tours, Pryor OK
1 Samuel 3:1-10 (11-20); Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20; John 1:43-51 Sharing our Passion My late father and I loved airplanes. We loved all things aviation so much, that we shared that hobby and took flying lessons together. What started as a teenager’s past time and hobby became for me, an avocation that changed my life. Flying provided me an opportunity at a young age, 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 such a powerful driving force that I felt compelled to share that experience with others. Through commitment, dedication, study, and effort, twenty-two years ago I furthered my aviation education and earned a Commercial Pilot Certificate and a Certified Flight Instructor Certificate. Soon, I began teaching others the art and passion of aviation. I loved sharing this new experience and the giving of this gift to others, was more meaningful than any flight I ever took alone. Through this new avocation, I practiced my skills frequently, and I studied diligently. In time, I moved from being a mere spectator of the beauty from those lofty heights, to a person who brought others along on the journey, so that they too could “come and see.” Now, I share another life-changing exprince of Grace. For all Christians, helping others to see Jesus, by sharing our experience of grace is the way we Christians live out our baptismal promises to share Good news ny word and action. We invite others to come and see Jesus in us.
Seeing Jesus Wikipedia defines “Seeing,” or visual perception as, ” the ability to interpret the surrounding environment using light in the visible spectrum reflected by the objects in the environment.”(1) Alternatively, blindness is the inability to perceive or interpret what may be plainly present in front of us. Physical blindness was a condition of many people who met Jesus. Jesus often healed those who suffered from an inability to see. However, that healing was often more than physical. Many people Jesus encountered were really spiritually blind. They refused to open their eyes to the grace, restoration and soul healing Jesus offered them. To have one’s sight restored, to really see the beauty of the life into which, God invites us to participate, stands at the heart of what it means to follow 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. We just need to open our eyes and see. Following Jesus In today’s gospel reading, we hear about Nathaniel and Philip’s encounter with Jesus as Jesus was returning to Galilee. Now Nathaniel was a skeptic and when presented with an opportunity to “come and see” Jesus, he said, “Can anything good come from Nazareth,” a statement of cynicism and disbelief. However, here is the important part of the story, Philip saw Jesus initially, and was so moved by him, that he had to go and tell someone else about it. Philip was an evangelist, a bearer of Good News. Philip went beyond mere participation, and he actually went to find his friend Nathaniel, and he invited him to “come and see” Jesus. Each one of us are given that same invitation, “come and see Jesus.” Sometimes when faced with that to respond to the high calling of discipleship we can be like old Nathaniel. 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. In a parish I served twelve years ago, I had a parishioner who faithfully attended church every Sunday. She sat in the same pew, gave generously, worked in various ministries, and showed up at every event, but something in her life was missing. Emma’s spiritual practices of prayer and study had fallen by the wayside. She was missing the experience of seeing Jesus everyday, of coming to Jesus for strength, for guidance, for support, and 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.
Practicing Discipleship God invites us to “come and see” what it is like to be the people of God, but it is not enough just to see and that’s all there is. Like a pilot flying their nimble craft, we need to commit to practicing our faith, in order truly to become followers of Jesus. This journey of faith requires us to be willing to be transformed and become a new people, set aside as lighthouses of God’s grace, in a world of darkness, fear, and pain. We are called to be people forever changed, so that we might live into God’s vision for us, both as individuals and as a community. The Most Rev. Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury once 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.” (2) We come and see Jesus, we are forever changed, and then we are sent out to share that vision of love with others.
So, we must practice our faith by having conversations with Jesus, studying the stories of his life, ministry, death, and resurrection, 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 move from mere spectators who see. We need to once again become practitioners of faith, so that our lives are so filled with God, that we are compelled to invite others to “Come and See.”