Sermon January 19, 2020

Gospel: John 1: 29-42

Come and See!

Is the exclamation of my young nephew as we explored the tide pools in search of living creatures.  I don’t know who took more delight in it all – he or I?

Come and See!

Is what my daughter says to me as she shows me her latest amazingly decorated cake.  I’m likely more proud of her works of art than she is – I’ve got photos!

Come and See!

Is what I say to my neighbor who is curious about what all the trucks and contractors have been doing in our home.  I can’t wait to show it off to everyone!

Come and See! 

It is all that Jesus said.  It is his answer to the questioning disciples of John.

Come and See. 

Think about when you have been given this kind of invitation.  It is both simple and warm.  It is filled with hospitality.  It leaves you full of expectation.  You anticipate something worthwhile.

Maybe as Christians we should consider this welcome: Come and See!  Now and again, we might need to be reminded that our job isn’t to persuade others to become Christians.  We are certainly not called to cram our faith down the throat of anyone!  Or question their eternal salvation.  Or threaten them with hell fire and brimstone!

Especially in the Gospel of John, which we read today, we are continually invited to be witnesses to the presence of Jesus in the world, still today.  In the Gospel of John, John the Baptist is one who testifies to who Jesus is.  He is always pointing to Jesus and telling others to follow him.  John calls us to be disciples who are also willing to point to Jesus and declare the ways and places where God is revealed.  John wants us to tell others, Come and See. 

And then God will do the rest!

But, how many of us have ever uttered such effortless words?  It’s the easiest evangelism program ever.  I know some of you have offered the invitation – and seen valuable results!  Yet for most of us in most situations, those basic words can’t find their way across our lips!

It takes courage to be a witness to Jesus.  It can be hard to be the one who points out the places where God is at work.  It is easier to stand on the sidelines and watch the parade of witnesses go by, waving my little flag and cheering them on.  Truth is, in our world, attesting to God’s light isn’t always popular.  It might put you in a place that makes you uncomfortable.  After all, we know how being a witness turned out for John the Baptist!

The difficulty of talking about Jesus seems even more pronounced when it comes to family.  I know many of you have children or siblings or other family members who no longer find “the religious thing” relevant.  I know that struggle personally.  Bringing up Jesus at the family dinner celebration can be a great way to dampen the fun and frivolity!  So, how do we witness to Jesus?

Is there something within your faith life that is as exciting as those creatures in the tide pool were to my young nephew?  Some little thing that would cause you to want to share it.  An experience that has moved you deeply enough that you would say, even at that family dinner,  “come and see!”

OR, have we lost all the enthusiasm for anything dealing with faith?  Is there nothing left to be that excited about?

I don’t think so!  I think we maybe have made it too complicated.  When I listen to your stories … when I hear you speak … I don’t hear apathy, but instead excitement about what you are doing in this community of faith.  You speak about how God is present in your life.  You speak of the warmth of hospitality you experience here.  I hear your laughter in the halls and see your delight as a child is blessed.  You talk of how a small group of people help you grow in faith and how experiences of service have changed your perspective. 

I think we make sharing our faith more complicated than it really is.  We forget that all we need to do is tell our stories.  We don’t need to convert people – that is God’s work.  We don’t need to convince people that faith is real, or that the stories are true, or that without this faith they can’t succeed, or any of the myriad of other ways we may have gone about it in the past.  John declares to us that we merely have to invite: Come and See.

What have you done lately in your walk with God that gets your blood flowing so that you might be bold enough to say to anyone else, Come and See!

What is so excited that you would grab someone by the hand, saying: Come and See!

Maybe it is the interactions of your Bible Study group, or the closeness in your small group, or the laughs you share over coffee after church, or how the music touched you.  Maybe you found it in the Quilting Group, or your Confirmation Mentor, or the Mission Possible trip, or during Vacation Bible School.

Whatever it was, did it inspire you enough to share it with a friend?  And could you imagine yourself taking it one step further and saying to that person:  Come and See!

Maybe you have already invited a dozen times with no success.  Will one more try to something different hurt?  Maybe your family member has been to an event or twelve and not been dramatically changed.  But might God be at work in ways we don’t see?  Maybe offering the invitation changes you more than it changes anyone else.  It is our call to point to Jesus.

Come and See

It might look like this: “We are sorting food for 2nd Harvest.  The other people going are great – loads of fun and very caring.  We help our neighbors who are hurting – right up your alley!”

Come and See! 

“Won’t you join for dinner on Friday night.  I’m going with several others that I would love you to meet.  They are the ones who sent all of those cards after my surgery.  I think you will enjoy them all.”

Come and See!

Or maybe it is this: “We have a Seuss Sunday that is great.  Everything in the service is in Seussical verse – and then we get Green Eggs and Ham afterwards!  I’m wearing my Cat in the Hat shirt!”

Our task is to invite. 

We invite and God will take care of the rest.  Maybe not in a way that we imagine, or hope for, or as quickly as we might like, but God is the one in charge! 

All we need to take care of is our call –  point to Jesus and follow his path. 

After that, the Holy Spirit is at work in and through us!

So, Come and See!