“Come and see: Longing for relationship”
Sermon given by the Rev. Clare L. Hickman on January 15, 2017
Texts: Isaiah 49:1-7; 1 Corinthians 1:1-9; John 1:29-42
Clare L. Hickman
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
January 15, 2017—Epiphany 2A
Isaiah 49:1-7; 1 Corinthians 1:1-9; John 1:29-42
Come and see, come and see, come and see, COME AND SEE! Come and see Jesus, who is the one you have been looking for. Come and see Jesus, who is an epiphany, a revelation of God shining into the world like a sunrise. Come and see Jesus, who will bring about an apocalypse, which is not (in fact) a destruction, but an uncovering of secret or hidden knowledge.
So you have to come and see. There are so many words for seeing and knowing, seeking and understanding in this gospel, and so many words for the revelations in store if you do. John reminds me of my mother, who loves a treasure hunt, and would begin our birthdays or Christmas mornings with a trail of written clues that led us ever closer to the pile of presents for which we longed. Here, John sets the bait, promising us wonders, leading us forward with our own longing.
What are you looking for?
It’s Jesus’ question to the disciples, and one that you’ve heard me echo before. What do you need? What do you want? What is it you seek? Do you, in fact, even know the answer to those questions?
They are questions worthy of attention, especially since we might just be a little out of practice determining what we truly want or need. As David Lose points out in his blog, the advertising world in which we live spends a great deal of time telling us what we want so that they can sell it to us, even manufacturing needs which they can then conveniently fill.[i] You want a diamond ring that will prove how much he loves you; you want that car that proves you have arrived. On the other hand, you have body odor, dry scalp, underdeveloped pecs, and hair growing out of strange places: we can fix that for you!
So many messages telling you what you want, what you need. Spend too much time letting that momentum carry you along, and your muscles might just get weak. Which is where the disciples’ answer might be instructive to us. Because they don’t rush to the specifics of what they want from Jesus. When he asks them “What are you looking for?” they simply respond, “Where are you staying?”
“Where are you staying?” Where do you live, Jesus? How can we find you? We want to be with you.
It is an answer that betrays a longing for relationship … and perhaps the knowledge that we can only truly learn from someone, disciple with someone, by BEING with them: day in and day out, sharing a life, dwelling with them. And along the way, we will probably learn more about what we truly want and need in this life.
Where do you live, Jesus? Where can we go to find you? Where can all those people out there, who long for something in ways they might not even be able to articulate, where can they go to find you?
Could they come here? Do you think they would see you, sense you, come to know you by being here in our midst? Are you alive enough in us, between us, to come alive for the person who might walk through our doors?
If so, it begins with the love, with our being in love with Jesus. As one is drawn to a couple who are visibly, tangibly in love with each other, a person will be drawn to our love for Jesus. To the way our faces light up, to the obvious joy with which we are filled. It’s like … do you remember having mentionitis? That is, especially when you’re first crushing on someone, falling for them, and you find yourself working their name into the conversation in every way possible? You probably think you’re being subtle, and it all just came up naturally, but everyone can see it: just getting to mention them makes you happy! It summons them somehow, and that makes you glow.
That’s what evangelism is, on some basic level: not some didactic “Let me tell you what you need!” but the glow we get when we talk about our beloved. The way Jesus changes us, enlivens us. The way this place “reads” when someone walks through the door.
It is here (Jesus is here) when people walk through that door and discover that this is a safe place to be broken (and thus a place to find the Healer). He is here in our courage to admit that we are indeed all sinners (all suffering the tendency to hurt ourselves and each other, in seemingly endless ways), which makes this a place to find forgiveness. Here as we face into the reality of illness, accident, wounding and death, which (much as we hate that reality) makes this a place where resurrection happens! He is here. Here when we give others as much latitude as we give ourselves; here when we grant ourselves the latitude and gentleness we extend to others.
He is here in the love and the joy: messy as it, imperfect and faltering as it, abundant (yes, abundant) as it is. He is here, because it is his love, not ours, that makes it all possible. His love, not ours, that binds us together across all our weaknesses and disagreements and human limitations. His love that makes it possible for me to love all of you, and for you (God help you … literally) to love me.
“Where are you staying, Jesus?” When the answer is “here” (at this corner of Lewiston and Livernois) then thanks be to God! Because if someone feels the love, as they walk through that door, it is HIS love they feel. It is His love they are entering into and taking into themselves. His communion, his unity, his bringing together that they experience when he invites them to be fed at his table.
Not just his love, of course. In the end, it is God’s love. For when the disciples ask Jesus where he is staying, his answer (as it unfolds throughout the Gospel) is: I abide in God. Where do I stay? I stay as close as possible to the eternal reality of the Creator. I abide in God, and God abides in me. Come and see, and you too can reside in the very heart of God.
This is what will shine forth from your being like an epiphany. This is what will leave you short of words to express it, but nonetheless longing to say something of this gift, of this mystery, of this strange and marvelous transformation you have experienced. This is what will pull you in, and send you out to tell the Good News.
Come and see. Come, and you just might fall in love with Jesus. May it be so. Amen.