Second Sunday After Epiphany: January 19, 2020
Year A : Isaiah 49:1-7; Psalm 40:1-2; 1 Corinthians 1:1-9; John 1:29-42
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When I first looked at today’s Gospel, I was struck by the continuation of the baptism theme that we heard in the Gospel of Matthew last week. It’s easily a reading where baptism is easily preached.
But it is also one of the few instances in our weekly readings that come from the lectionary where there’s a theme that can be found in all the readings from scripture. There’s an underlying theme of the idea of being called.
The readings from Isaiah and from Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians both begin with words about being called. The notion of call fits right in with today’s section of John’s gospel, in which we hear his account of what is often given the heading of “The Call of the First Disciples” in those bibles that have headings for chapters.
John is at the Jordan baptizing people for repentance. Andrew was a follower of John, working with him, learning from him. John says, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” And Andrew and another, unnamed disciple followed Jesus. And when he turns and talks to them, they ask, “Teacher, where are you staying?” They are asking to listen to the teacher, and his response is immediate, “Come and see.” We don’t know who the other disciple was, but Andrew was the first of the Twelve Apostles. He spent the day listening to Jesus and went and found his brother, John, and tells him: “We have found the Messiah!”
“Come and see.” Andrew and this unnamed disciple were called. What does being called mean?
The idea of being called to serve God is a tricky thing. We tend to equate being called in terms of the language and context in 1 Corinthians and Isaiah. That is, with being told by God to do some specific thing. We often talk of being called to be ordained or being called to a particular – usually a full-time and professional – form of service, almost always in the church.
I’m gaining more and more perspective on the sense of call to ordained ministry by serving on the Committee on the Diaconate. This past Wednesday we spent an almost full seven hours interviewing and discerning the call of students in our diocesan deacon program. It is the next step in their process, where they seek to move from being postulants to candidates in the ordination process. If made a candidate, more often than not they will be ordained. It’s a momentous decision on their part and on the committee’s part as well.
Some of the people we interview can point to a specific moment when they felt called, but a vast majority of people interviewed have come to where they are through pretty ambiguous, complicated and circuitous paths – paths that have led them to suspect that it might be a good idea to get ordained. That was certainly my personal journey. Yet, at the same time, they aren’t sure if they are “called,” whatever “called” might mean. And articulating a call is very important even when the call is ambiguous.
But I’m going to share something that I sincerely believe. Being ordained is entirely secondary to the real, the central call we all have from God. In our gospel story, those two followers of John the Baptist, who Jesus asked to “come and see,” were called, exactly as we are called. They were called to be disciples – just as we are called to be disciples. They were called to be disciples in their place and in their time, for the sake of their generation.
The call of God never comes without the context of life—of human possibilities and needs. Andrew knew that Jesus was the Messiah from sitting in his presence and listening—even before any of the rest of the story unfolded.
We are all called to know God and to witness to God in the context of our own lives. Like Andrew, the most significant thing in our lives is bearing simple witness to the truth of God and our simple living of Christ’s love. “He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon, son of John. You are to be called Cephas’ (which is translated Peter, or Rock).” Without Andrew, there is no Peter to become the rock of Christianity.
What we receive from Jesus in this gospel is an invitation to relationship. Jesus does not say, “Do this”. He says, “Come and see.” Only later does he give specific content and direction to where that might lead. There’s a big difference between a call to a task and an invitation to relationship.
We might ask ourselves the following questions: who was Andrew in our life? Who first pointed out Jesus to us? Who and/or what nurtured and nourished me in faith? When did I begin to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah, the Lamb of God, and the Lord of my life? And like Andrew, when was the last time I said to someone, I have found the Messiah!
Next week is our Annual Meeting at Saint Andrew’s and the second Sunday of February at Emmanuel. This past November, we celebrated two years of ministry together. Now, is an ideal time to reflect on God’s call to us—to “come and see” Jesus, to discern the relationship we have with Jesus Christ. and discern the direction where God may be inviting us to travel. Because in all honesty, we would all do well to realize that what Jesus “called” Andrew to is to “Come and see.” It wasn’t a call to relationship, a call to action.
As God’s disciples, we live realistically in the real world. We know the love of God as we have experienced it. We have seen and we know that God does work here at Beckford Parish. We see it in the dedication and love of our people for this church—in the compassion and care for one another; in visiting the sick and shut-in; in caring for and teaching our children, the next generation of Christians; in caring for the people of this neighborhood; in being open to the new things that God has in store for this community.
What were those disciples in the Gospel of John looking for? They don’t honestly know, but they are attracted by what John has told them, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
When we “Come and see” Christ, we find that being disciples of Christ means that we become part of a passionate enterprise.
Each of us is called by our baptism to grow and change. Each time we gather as the Body of Christ, whether it is in this building or somewhere else, we are called to extend Jesus’ gracious invitation to “come and see.” Come and see what it’s like to live in Christ. Come and see what it’s like to live among a community of people committed to growing and seeking. Come and see what it’s like to feel hope in the face of the despair of the world around us, to see light shining in darkness, to know love, and welcome amid a world in pain. Come and see the light of Christ in the body and blood of Christ, broken, poured and shared with one another.
 John 1:36, NRSV
 John 1:38, NRSV
 John 1:39, NRSV
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