Come and See … Come and Be (January 14, 2018)
Come and see.
It feels good when someone invites you. Come and see.
And so you do. You take up the invitation. We like it when someone shares part of their life with us. We feel included … and that’s such a good feeling, so you go with the friend who invited you, and you see what has her so excited. You share in her joy; you delight in whatever delights her.
“Gracious invitation” is a good way to describe how Jesus responds to people. He doesn’t get defensive or irritable or boastful or demanding—we see those characteristics all too regularly in some of our so–called “leaders” today.
Rather, Jesus responds with a sense of gracious invitation. He focusses on his dialogue partners. He becomes open to them. He really “sees” them. He takes them seriously. He invites them to come and see.
In today’s gospel reading, it’s Philip who makes that invitation to come and see comes from Philip. Philip has already met Jesus. Now he finds a friend, Nathanael. It seems that Nate is a bit of a smart–aleck. When Philip tells him that Jesus comes from Nazareth, Nate’s response is, “You gotta be kidding me! Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
And Philip says, “Come and see.”
Inviting. Come and see.
The whole gospel revolves around this kind of gracious invitation.
Jesus is constantly inviting people to check it out. He meets someone, engages them in conversation, and invites them to look differently at life. It starts with these early disciples, with Philip and Nathanael. Then there are the guests at the wedding feast. Nicodemus at night. The Samaritan woman at the well. The man born blind.
People in all kinds of different situations encounter Jesus. Some are puzzled or confused. Others simply do not believe Jesus. And some take up the invitation, and they invite others. And some don’t take up the invitation, and walk away to a life that is so much poorer.
I think this is a model for how the church reaches out.
When I was a teenager, I was invited to be part of a high school Bible study group. By my third meeting, I really didn’t like what they were saying, but I stayed anyway … because I wanted to belong. I wanted to be included.
At one meeting, the leaders told us we should always carry a big Bible around, so that people would know we were Christians. “It’s a symbol of your faith. The bigger the Bible, the better! Let people see how proud you are to be a Christian!”
I didn’t believe the leaders back then. I don’t believe them now. They were just sooooooo wrong. The church doesn’t go around knocking people over the head with a big Bible.
We invite. We reach out in love and grace. We invite people to walk with us in the way. We meet people where they are at … and join them in conversation, in laughter, in friendship.
Come and see.
But notice that Jesus always does something else. Jesus never stops with “Come and see.” Jesus always moves on, and invites them and us to “come and be”. Come and be someone new. Come and be transformed. Come and be the person the world needs. Come and be the beloved child of God which you are. Come and be an epiphany of God. Come and be a sign of God’s love in the world.
Such simple words. Such warm words. Such easy words.
That is the heart of Christian evangelism. That’s the warmth which brings people to discover the presence of God in their lives.
Come and see.
And then, come and be.
I think there is something good going on here at Christ Church. I believe there’s something worth inviting people to here. I think we’re doing something good here … we’re getting involved with each other and with God … we’re part of what Michael Curry calls “the Jesus movement” … we know here that we are God’s people and that we are bathed in God’s love …
… and that is a good thing.
I think it’s worth inviting others to join us.
What do you think?
Come and see. Come and be.
Thanks be to God.
Rev. Dr. Yme Woensdregt
January 14, 2018 (2nd Sunday after Epiphany, Proper 2)
John 1: 43–51
1 Samuel 3: 1–20
1 Corinthians 6: 12–20