Hanging of the greens
Sunday bulletin March 3
Can anything good come out of…? If we are honest with ourselves, this is a question we struggle with. We struggle with this when we are so quick to judge, so quick to form an opinion with such little information. It was like first meeting Kyle; Can anything good come out of Wisconsin? Right? Can anything good come of Nazareth?
When we put our faith in image, in power, in income, in popularity, and to ask the question of church? Where it can become too easy to place importance on appearance over hearing Jesus’ call to come and see. Can anything good come from Nazareth? From Wisconsin? Cannon Falls? Yes, absolutely! Come and see!
Brandon Hatmaker in the opening of Jen Hatmaker’s book, Interrupted, shares the story while visiting France. It was on a cold morning—strolling down the cobblestone streets of a quaint town with another couple. As the women stopped to explore a shop when they noticed two young homeless men—one huddled and shivering in the cold, and the other playing his guitar with his case open working hard seeking donations and pushing through the pain of frozen fingers. Brandon recalls how years prior he would have instantly judged these young men—what it was they did wrong, or assuming they were too lazy to keep a job, and speculating what kind of booze or cigarettes they would be buying from what they would collect today… But Brandon and Jen had not long before had their lives interrupted where they experienced something deeper in their experience of this invitation to ‘come and see’ Jesus.
Brandon shares, “But today was different.” In transformation—he felt a genuine compassion that helped him to see that these young men were hungry, cold, and strangers in this town. Knowing he had to do something, he grabbed the change in his pocket and some loose bills, gave them a nod, placing the money in the guitar case wishing he had more to offer. He departed feeling good with what he had done.
Moving on, feeling good, he was ready to join his friend Hugh who stepped into the local coffee shop to get them a couple of cups of coffee. Hugh exiting the coffee shop, to his surprise walked right past him approaching the two young men now both huddled in the corner. He knelt down extending a cup to each of them, and looked right into their eyes and they smiled. He then asked their names and to hear their story. In their broken English, they shared the best they could. What mattered more than the words they shared was that someone gave more than some loose change and even more than the warmth of a cup of coffee. What was extended was dignity—that these two young men mattered. What was extended is to abide—to extend an invitation that is loving and sees others is to abide in Jesus.
Jesus call in our lives from our Scripture today begins with and invitation to COME: “Come and see.” Come.
COME. SHOW UP:
I love how this opens—John the Baptist is with a couple of his followers when Jesus comes walking by and John says, “Behold the Lamb of God” and the two disciples then begin following Jesus. Jesus asks, “What are you looking for?”
Think about this question. You are a follower of John the Baptist. He has been teaching that one greater than him would be coming and that this was the Son of God. This is the Messiah—the one we have been waiting for. The Messiah asks, “What are you looking for?”
And then it’s like back in high school when I have been fond of this girl—I have practiced over and over again what I would say—and finally she says hi, and I become dumbstruck and cannot believe with all that I had rehearsed when the moment were to come of what actually comes bumbling out of my mouth. It’s kind of like that—the most welcoming man in the history of the world, the most important, the coming of the Messiah who asks “What are you looking for?” And the disciples say, “Where are you staying?” That’s it, “Where are you staying?!”
But Jesus helps move the question from what, to where, to who…who are you looking for? Jesus responds with an invitation, “Come and see.”
After Phillip meets Jesus, he cannot help but want to share the same invitation. COME. Discipleship begins with showing up. It is in showing up, that Phillip learns about invitation to meet Jesus and he then shares the same invitation. I cannot help but think about when this first became real in the depths of my heart and I couldn’t help but want to share this with other people. I want you to meet Jesus. It is from meeting Jesus that Peter, then Philip, and now Nathanael cannot help but want you to come and see for yourself.
So this is what Phillip did when he ran into Nathanial. It’s the one we have been waiting for—the one that Moses was talking about, the son of Joseph from Nazareth. And Nathanial replies can anything good come from Wisconsin? Philip doesn’t try to argue or coerce. Rather, he invites him as he was invited. Come. Come and see.
SEE (Abide). The second part of showing up is to ‘see’. This is a major theme throughout the book of John—that our eyes are the light to our soul. But sight is more than meets the eye. As much as this correctly translated as to see, or sight, it is more. This invitation is direct invitation to come and abide. Seeing, Jesus invites the disciples to abide in him, to stay awhile, to be fully welcome, to be vulnerable and present. To abide is for Nathanael to witness that Jesus has known him all along…and to abide is to hear Jesus say ‘You ain’t seen nothing yet.’
Can you see the progression? Where Jesus moves from asking “What are you looking for?” to abide in me. And we will see this move through the gospel of John to “I am the vine and you are the branches”, “abide in me as I abide in you”, to “I am going to prepare a place for you for in my father’s house there are many abiding places.” What does meaningful relationship look like? It looks like this—an invitation to see and then to abide. This is where we will find what we are looking for…
First, Jesus calls us to show up, to come. Second we are called to see, to abide, to be fully present.
FOLLOW. “Follow me” This is the natural response to showing up and being present. This is like the transformation in the story of Brandon Hatmaker, the response to knowing that Jesus sees us—that Jesus knows us…where our response is more than to ‘believe in Jesus.’ It is more than showing up on Sunday, or to pray before a meal. To be a disciple of Jesus is to leave the path you were on before and to walk in the way of Jesus. Jesus meets us where we are, but by showing up and seeing Jesus, we are called to somewhere new. To know Jesus, we recall the broken road where we have been and seek to follow this new path by responding to this invitation to love our neighbors, to welcome the stranger, to feed the hungry… to buy the cup of coffee and look the homeless man in the eye and want to share the same dignity we find in knowing that Jesus love us.
What are you looking for? Come. See. Follow.