Sunday, January 16, 2011

Second Sunday in Ephipany: Have you found what you're looking for?

What are you looking for?
Jesus turns and asks the two men following him, “What are you looking for?”
It’s an unexpected question.
Now I don’t know about you, but if someone was following me, trying to catch up with me, I would probably ask, “What do you want?” or maybe “Can I help you with something?”  That is, if I didn’t speed up and try to get to a safe place before they caught up with me!
“What do you want?”
That’s a question we are comfortable with.  “What do you want?”  We know how to answer that.  It’s a pretty specific, straightforward question.  I want to talk with you.  I want to ask you a question.  I want you to help me in some way.   I want something.  We know how to answer “what do you want?”

“What are you looking for?” 
That’s harder.  What ARE we looking for?  Aside from looking for car keys or a misplaced cell phone or other lost items, the things we look for are usually intangible.  These are things of the heart and the soul.  We look for a place to belong.  We look for love.  We look for answers to life’s hard questions.  We look for meaning.  We look for happiness. We look for peace.

“What are you looking for?”
There are no easy answers to this one.  We all have sorrows, and unmet needs, and secret longings.  We all want to belong, to love, to be safe.  And sometimes we just feel a deep ache for something we cannot even begin to name.

“What are you looking for?”
It’s easy to bury the question, to ignore the desires of our souls.  It is easy to become distracted, to focus on the next task at hand or the newest ‘must-have’ item, or the latest celebrity gossip, or the latest facebook game. 

It’s so easy to use “what do you want” to block out “what are you looking for.”

 So, what is it that you are looking for?
What are you looking for?  It’s an unexpected question. 
Andrew and John’s (the other disciple is generally believed to be John, brother of James, son of Zebedee) answer is also unexpected: “Rabbi, where are you staying?” 
What kind of answer is that!?!  It doesn’t even answer the question. 
But Andrew and John want to know where Jesus is staying, because they want to spend some time with him, to get to know him.  They may not know what they are looking for.  Maybe they’ve never even thought about it in such a direct way.  But they do know that this man, whom John the Baptist calls the Lamb of God, has something that calls to them.  There is something about this man that hints at answering the deepest questions in their souls.  Something about Jesus tells them that here may be exactly what they have been looking for. 
They want to find out. “Where are you staying?  Can we come and talk with you?”
Jesus says, “Come and see.”  It is both permission and an invitation. 
“Come and see” is more than physically going to a place and seeing it with our eyes.  The first Greek word means more than just “come.”  It means “stay,” or “abide.”  The Greek word translated “see” means “sense”,” perceive”, “recognize” and “experience.”
Come and see.
Come and recognize what it is that you are looking for.
Stay awhile and see what I am all about.
Abide with me and experience life.
Andrew and John go with Jesus, to the place where he was staying.  It’s late in the day, so they stay the night.  They have supper together.  They talk – Jesus talks and they listen.  I imagine Jesus also did a good bit of listening while they talked. 
The evening spent with Jesus changed their lives.
What are you looking for? 
Jesus invites us to come and see, stay and abide, recognize, perceive and experience.
Jesus invites us to stay with him, to share a meal, to talk, to get to know him and God – to share life together, to be in relationship.
We come and we see.  Each Sunday, we gather to sing and pray, to hear the Word of God, to share a meal and to be washed and claimed by baptism. 
What is it we find here that speaks to the deepest parts of our souls?
What have we seen and experienced that brings us comfort and joy?
Perhaps as you confess that you are not living the live you long to live, the life God desires for you, that place in you that longs for righteousness was cheered and renewed by the words of God’s love and forgiveness.
Maybe the words of the Prophet Isaiah speak to the places in you that seek meaning and purpose – you are called, in the womb you were named, you are chosen.[i] 
Maybe the Psalmist’s song[ii] touches deep places of hurt, trouble, depression and loneliness, reassuring you that the Lord hears those who wait in pain and lifts them from the pit of despair, and sets them on firm ground again.
Today, was it the words of Paul to the church in Corinth[iii] - that God enriches you, strengthens you with abundant grace, and places you in fellowship with those gathered here – was it those words of encouragement that spoke to the part of you that wants to belong, to be a part of something wonderful and good?
Maybe there is just something from sitting in the company of the congregation, hearing the Word of God, the hymns and the prayers that carries you into the presence of God.
What are you looking for?
Each Sunday we come here to find Jesus, to experience God.  And to our surprise and great joy, we discover that Jesus has already found us and God walks with us while we are here and when we go from this place.
We stand in the presence of the Gracious Giver of all we are looking for.  

What do you do when you have such good news?  What do you do when you find a treasure?
Andrew invited someone else to come and see.  He hurried home to tell his brother Simon, “We have found the Messiah!”  And he took Simon Peter to meet Jesus.
Andrew isn’t mentioned much in the Gospel of John, or in any of the gospels for that matter.  Older brother Simon Peter was in the spotlight much of the time with his impulsive, strong nature.  Andrew was mostly in the background.  But it is significant that most of the times the gospel of John mentions Andrew, he is bringing people to Jesus – his brother, the boy with the loaves and fishes, some foreign travelers.  Andrew wanted others to come and see what he had seen and experienced.  He wasn’t flamboyant like his brother; he didn’t go on to be a preacher in the early church. 
Andrew, always in the background, quietly invited others, to ‘come and see.’
It’s as simple as that. 
John the Baptist pointed Andrew and John to Jesus.  Andrew told Peter.  It’s as simple as a friend sharing good news with a friend.
What are you looking for? Come and see what I have found. 
What are you looking for? Stay awhile and share the experience.
What are you looking for?  Come and see.

[i] Isaiah 49:1-7
[ii] Psalm 40:1-11
[iii] 1 Corinthians 1:1-9

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely LOVE what you say about Andrew! My favorite second fiddle...