Sermon for 2nd Sunday after Epiphany, January 15, 2017

Sermon for the 2nd Sunday after Epiphany
January 15, 2017
The Rev. Evelyn Wheeler, Rector

Isaiah 49:1-7; Psalm 40:1-12; 1 Corinthians 1:1-9; John 1:29-42

Paul is called as apostle to the Gentiles.

The Corinthians are called as disciples of Christ in community.

We are also called to community, to proclaim the gospel, to be led by the Spirit deeper into the love of God, bearing with – and being with – others on the same mission, in community.

They said, “I follow Cephas! I belong to Apollos!” 

We might say, “I'm a high-church Episcopalian; give me the ‘smells and bells!’ Or:  I'm a low-church Episcopalian – bring that stuff in and I’m outta here! Or:  I liked Mtr. Smith but I don’t like Fr. Jones.”

No. WE are called by the Spirit of God to bring ourselves into community with one another:  along with our differences, we all have this in common.

And, together we share the gift, grace, and obligation to discern - together - what it means for us to follow Christ - together - in our own day, place, time, and circumstances.  Together.

Because we are a community.  We each may think we made the decision to be here on our own, but are we so sure?  Are we quite, quite certain that act of coming here this morning, this year, at this point in our lives, is only, simply, and purely our own individual, self-chosen, and self-directed decision and choice?

Or can we allow the possibility that God has called us, each of us severally, with the firm intention that we, seemingly individual and independent and self-directing, are to be, together, a community, and a neighborhood in the City of God?  No longer individuals but a unique, necessary, valued, and integral part of a greater whole?

What does it mean that this is true? 

I only ask, because I personally firmly believe this to be the case. I firmly believe that God has called us - each of you, all of you, and I - together to *be* together, and together to be a unique, valued, necessary, and integral neighborhood in the City of God.

And at this point, our task is to try and discern what that looks like in God’s eyes.

Today, we see the beginning of the story of Christ’s time on earth, in John’s Gospel.  John the Baptist sees him nearby and tells his own followers, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’” 

Andrew and another followed Jesus, and not knowing what else to ask, perhaps – because, seriously, how do you ask someone, “What did John mean by saying you are the Lamb of God” – they asked him instead, “Where are you staying?”

Usually, if we ask someone where they are staying, they tell us – at the Comfort Inn or the Holiday Inn Express or their cousin’s house.  They don’t generally invite us to join them there.  Simple factual information is exchanged, and that’s all.

But Jesus says, “Come and see.”

This isn’t information; this is an invitation. 

When John the Evangelist voices their question, he uses a word for “stay” – menĊ – that he also uses to describe “the relationship of God, Jesus, and the Spirit with one another and with believers is permanent, not sporadic.”[1]

Jesus the rabbi may move from one place to another, but in the most important way, he has a permanent home in his relationship with the Father, the Spirit, and with us. 

I have to admit I struggle with this concept – for when I lost my family, I felt – and still sometimes feel – that I have been completely uprooted and cast adrift; having a roof over my head but feeling at the base, homeless.  There is no place where I can go and say, “I’m home.  Everybody knows me here; this is where I’m from; this is my place.”

In fact, I still can’t envision going to the town where I spent my childhood till age nine and where my parents retired and calling it home.  To me it is a place of pain and sorrow, not home.

I feel impermanent about this.

But Jesus? He never had to worry about this. Everywhere he went, he was home, because his home was not a place, not a village or a specific house – his home was in his relationships – with God, with us.

And I found some truth in that idea this winter when I went to visit my cousins after Christmas – when I spent time with them, when we reminisced and caught up, and when I held my younger cousin’s granddaughter in my arms.  Family is home.  Relationships are home.

(See me later, and I’ll show you pictures!)

Our place, the place we stay and can never be removed from, is in our relationship with Jesus, the Father, the Spirit, and those who walk this path with us, those who come with us to see where Jesus is staying.

Just as Jesus said to John’s disciples, he says to us, “Come and see.”  He said it to us this morning, and so we came. 

Just as John’s disciples met others who had come and seen, we do that this morning in this place.  And just as the disciples answered Jesus’ invitation, they also issued it to others – as Andrew invited his brother.

We are called to be together, to come and see the place Jesus calls home, wherever he is, the home that goes wherever he goes, the place of ultimate and final and permanent belonging.

It’s the place we, too, belong.  What do you see when you come to this place?  Do you see where Jesus stays?

 

 

[1] John, John 1:35-51 Commentary, Gail R. O’Day (Candler SOT, Emory U); NIB Vol IX (Nashville: Abingdon Press 1995), 531.

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