January 15, 2023
Sermon: ‘Come and See’ Rev. Jane Courtright
I am one of those people who are good at recognizing faces and spirits, but not always names!
Now, most of us develop tricks over the years that help us remember people’s names. I’ve tried some of them myself. For example, I read that you should pay attention to a physical trait of the person & match it to the beginning sound of their first name. I remember thinking at one event, “I’ll remember her name: She’s wearing shoes that are the color of potatoes and her name is Patty.” Of course, she didn’t wear those shoes the next time we met!
Or I would ask the person how they spelled their last name – This worked well until a man replied dryly, “S-M-I-T-H!”
So, now I will introduce myself, & most people will respond by introducing THEMSELVES. OR if I’m with someone, I will quickly introduce THEM, such as, “This is my spouse, Dave.” Most people will respond by giving their own name. There aren’t that many people who will stare at Dave… until it’s awkwardly clear that I can’t remember their name. I imagine most of you here would also put out your hand, (or bump elbows these days) saying graciously, “It’s nice to meet you, Dave. My name is _____________.”
Our gospel reading for this morning has John introducing Jesus to some of his (John’s) disciples, with the words, “Look, here is the lamb of God!” In this passage, being introduced to Jesus prompts the disciples to figure out their own identity, ….at least they are guided to do so by Jesus.
This is an odd scene, really. Not something that would happen often in our social gatherings when introductions are being made! John introduces Jesus to his own disciples.They heard, and they followed Jesus.
Jesus turned around and asked them,“What are you looking for?” ….a question asking them to identify themselves. To say something like: “We are 2 people looking for meaning & purpose in our lives, & we think you many have the answer!”
Maybe the reason they DON’T say that is because they ARE NOT sure who they are OR even that they ARE looking for something!
So, instead of answering Jesus’ question, They ask another question: “Jesus, where are you staying?” As I mentioned earlier, when John the Baptizer saw Jesus coming, he said “Here is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
TALK ABOUT A GRAND INTRODUCTION!!!!
I wonder how Jesus felt in that moment?! Would he have been comfortable with such an introduction? There’s always that testimonial dinner standard answer, “Thanks for your generous introduction. If only my parents could have heard it!”
But Jesus said very little in response to John’s introduction. Because, really, this reading is about how others introduce Jesus. John’s introduction is enough to compel his disciples to follow Jesus, Yet Jesus, relying very little on words, wants to make the introduction clearer!
“COME AND SEE,” Jesus says, as if to say, We get to know each other not so much by our titles, But rather by HOW we live. Jesus transitions from the title, lamb of God to an ordinary person having some people over to his place! The disciples DO accept Jesus’ invitation. They end up staying and Jesus’ story becomes their way of life!
They stay with Jesus all day. Andrew even brings his bro & introduces him to Jesus, saying, “This is our Messiah, Jesus.” So, in terms of introduction tricks, John the Baptizer introduces us to Jesus, saying, “This is the lamb of God – Jesus.” Now, it’s up to us disciples to put out our hand, say who WE are & be open to Jesus, guiding, shaping our identity.
Speaking of introductions, Here is another curious thing that I’ve seen happen: Sometimes when a person is introduced, particularly by family or close friends, that person gets an automatic promotion! If she is a doctor, all of a sudden she becomes a cutting edge surgeon. A teacher’s aide becomes a full professor. An ordinary singer becomes a brilliant musician. A pleasant looking person becomes a great beauty.
Sometimes this is o.k….life can be grand stories that become populated with larger-than-life characters. Sometimes it can inspire a person to achieve lofty goals. The problem arises when we get it wrong and cover up the true essence of a person.
Notice also that along with all the titles for Jesus in this passage, There are also a great number of verbs: FOLLOW, see, SEEK, stay, FIND, come, HEAR, bring! Rather than introductions, these are invitations!
When was the last time you received an invitation? Invitations come in many shapes and sizes. Some come in the mail (such as wedding invitations) or email or facebook or other social media. Others come in person (Let’s go out for lunch.)
Some come in unexpected ways. (like a phone call from my son Phil inviting me to go skydiving with him.)
Some are personal, almost intimate. (Will you marry me?)
Others are general and impersonal. (Politicians or charities inviting you to donate $$)
But no matter what, invitations ask us the same question: “WHY DON’T YOU COME AND SEE?” A simple invitation can be life changing!
COME AND SEE! It’s an open house. People are invited to stop in, remember a birthday or anniversary, celebrate a holiday. COME AND SEE!
Don’t bring presents. You don’t have to dress up. Don’t make a fuss, Just come & be with us. COME & SEE!
It’s an invitation to a relationship.
Oh sure, there’s always a ‘good excuse’ for the invitation. At its heart, though, is a warm welcome, an openness, a desire for relationship. A simple invitation with no strings attached.
When Andrew met Jesus, his first act was to bring his brother to meet Jesus too!
Many people have a strange idea about the Bible:
That was THEN, now is NOW…
when it comes to people in the Bible.
I mean, let’s face it, I’m no John the Baptizer or Simon Peter or Mary the Mother of Jesus, or Mary Magdelene. I live in a different world. So, what does all of this have to do with ME, TODAY? There is a strong message that crosses the centuries, both in time and place. We find who we are in light of our connection with Jesus, with the church. We invite others to COME AND SEE.
So often through the years, a relatively new member of a church will tell me that they finally arrived there after being invited several times by a friend to COME AND SEE their church.
Sometimes it can be hard to describe how you feel about Christianity or about your church, So, you want the person to COME AND SEE what you can’t exactly describe.
Many people, especially in main line churches like ours,are uncomfortable with following the example of Andrew, who went out, found his brother Simon and brought him to see Jesus. (**note that Jesus is NOT in the temple when he invites disciples to walk with him.)
How comfortable are YOU with inviting others to this church to visit, to COME AND SEE?
And when you do stop by their house & pick them up,
–WHAT will they COME AND SEE,
–WHAT will they experience here that will change their lives the way YOURS has been changed?
WHO might be out there, Just waiting for your invitation To COME AND SEE?
ONLY YOU KNOW FOR SURE! Amen.