The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he 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 see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon.
As we begin the New Year, we enter the season after epiphany. This season falls between three festivals celebrating stories in which Jesus is revealed as God’s Son. Before the season, we celebrate Epiphany: the revelation of Jesus at his birth to the Magi, and the Baptism of Our Lord: the revelation of Jesus at his baptism in the Jordan to gathered crowds. At the season’s end, we celebrate Transfiguration, the revelation of Jesus on the mountain to select disciples.
There can be no doubt that God is being made manifest in this man, Jesus.
As attention is drawn to Jesus’ special status, people take notice and become curious about Jesus. We hear about two such people in the reading above. Notice how Jesus does not force himself or his mission onto these two curious individuals. Instead, he allows the two disciples to ask their own questions. He allows them to define their interaction with him.
What can we learn from this exchange? When in conversation with people seeking religious connection but without a religious community, we could ask, “What are you looking for?” rather than immediately telling them where they should be worshipping. When visitors show up at our door, we might not only greet them and welcome them but also ask, “What are you looking for?” Maybe, what they are looking for does not yet exist at St. John’s. Maybe, we need to change how we do ministry to help them in their quest for Jesus. When you find that you are feeling burnt out or bored by your spiritual life, try asking yourself, “What am I looking for?” Perhaps, there is some inner longing or curiosity in your soul to which you are not attending.
What are you looking for?
Finally, notice that Jesus answers the disciples’ question with an invitation rather than an explanation. The two disciples ask, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” Rather than give directions and an address, Jesus leads them to his current lodgings. He invites them, “Come and see.”
This speaks to how much more powerful experiences are than explanations. When we are approached by someone, who is spiritually curious or who has religious questions, we may be tempted to offer explanations, but it will be more powerful to tell a story of our own experience of God active in our life. Likewise, when someone asks about St.John’s, we may start to explain our mission, but the most powerful connection we can offer is an invitation to worship or to an event.
Come and see.
On Sunday January 15th, our worship theme will be “Come and See.” Consider inviting someone in your life without a spiritual community to come and voice their questions, to come and see what God is up to at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Richlandtown.
In Christ, Pastor Kat