Sunday,January 17, 2021
“John was standing with two of his disciples,
and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said,
‘Behold, the Lamb of God.’
The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.
Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them,
‘What are you looking for?’
They said to him, ‘Rabbi’ — which translated means Teacher —,
‘where are you staying?’
He said to them, ‘Come, and you will see.’
So they went and saw where Jesus was staying,
and they stayed with him that day.”
“Come, and you will see.” It was a simple invitation. Unlike the feasts we have been celebrating over the past weeks, there were no angels singing to shepherds, no star guiding wise men from the East, and no dove descending or voice from heaven. It all seems very human and mundane. Jesus’s ministry will be filled with miraculous signs and teachings, but it’s important to remember that some of the most life changing experiences in the gospels are normal human interactions born of curiosity and encounter. The disciples of John the Baptist are intrigued by this new rabbi and follow after him to observe. When caught and questioned, they ask a very simple question (in my mind, I imagine it interrupted by ums, uhs, and pauses. “Well, um, Rabbi, uh, we, uh...we’re just wondering, um, where are you, um, staying?”). Jesus invites them to be with him, follow, and see for themselves. The spent the day with him. Then, they invited others. The first disciples joined in community around Jesus. Some of them would later become apostles, and later still, would go out to invite others from Jerusalem, Judea, and all the ends of the earth. It’s really the same invitation today, “Come, and you will see.”
After my parent’s divorce, mom and I moved back to Louisville and she began working at a savings and loan. There, she met two other women who lived relatively close to us and the three of them became good friends. They had sons about my age and because the three of them were friends and got together outside of work, we also soon became friends. Marcus and Brian were active in Boy Scouts and repeatedly invited me to come to meetings. They talked about the fun and adventures they had, but I refused over and over again. Finally worn down, I agreed to go and check it out. At the first meeting, I pretty much stood behind a pole in the Methodist church basement and watched everyone. The second meeting, I did the same. In the third meeting, content to continue my outsider observation, the scoutmaster came up to me and said, “You know, if you’re going to come every week, you might as well participate.” For over five years of my life, they became my family: helping me grow, giving me role models, pushing me to accomplish difficult challenges, forging my values, and supporting me in hard times. Perhaps for the first time in my life, I contributed, as well, to something beyond myself. My reluctance changed to curiosity, and curiosity led to encounter, and that encounter changed my life.
Time and again, I have heard similar stories in our community. Christ is present here in you, in our worship, and in our service to others. Lives have been changed through the encounter with Christ in our community. As our world, acquaintances, friends, and family members seem adrift with the COVID-19 pandemic, political turmoil, racial injustice, and economic hardship, seeking answers, meaning, and purpose for their lives, this, our home and family of faith, is a good place to be. The invitation is not difficult or extraordinary. It is simple. “Come, and you will see.”