Sunday Service was led by Pastor Sue Hutchins and the Sermon was titled “Come And See”.
Last week we began the season of Epiphany. An Epiphany is a revelation or an insight or that moment, that kind of what some people call an aha moment when something finally dawns on you, when you finally begin to recognize or understand or experience something maybe in a different way. In the season of Epiphany there are very specific scripture stories that we talk about from the New Testament because Epiphany is that season when we begin to understand who it is that came to us as the babe in the manger. We’ve just celebrated Christmas and the birth of Christ and now we begin to take him out of that manger and begin to understand who he is.
And Epiphany always begins with the story of the three kings of the Magi coming, showing that Jesus came not just for the Israelites, but that he came for all of the world. And it follows by the baptism of Jesus, which we celebrated last week where we are reminded as the hymn just said that Jesus came to John to be baptized. John’s message had been repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins, but Jesus was sinless and so he didn’t have to be baptized for the forgiveness of sin, but he was baptized showing his solidarity with us, showing that Jesus is while he’s fully divine, he’s also fully human and was tempted as we were. We’ll be looking at some of those themes during Lent.
And Jesus also, after the baptism with the Spirit, as the song said, The Spirit opened and said, ‘This is my beloved Son, and whom I’m at well-pleased.’ Identifying, depending on the gospel, the story, identifying Jesus as the Son of God to a small group, some of the disciples, or to a larger group. And then it’s also an epiphany that we see Jesus as the miracle worker. It’s when we look at the first miracle of Jesus is where he turned water into wine at a wedding of Cana of Galilee.
And the final Sunday of Epiphany is always Transfiguration Sunday. To be transformed or transfigured is to be changing shapes or changing understanding. And Jesus is seen on the mountain with Moses and with Elijah. Moses representing the law and Elijah representing the prophets that Jesus came to change those, to embody those in his living, not just something that people read and tried to keep the letter of the law, but embodying it and living that out day by day and all the things that they did.
And then Jesus begins his earthly ministry by calling his disciples. He begins by calling, inviting people to come and be with him. And they’re going to be the folks that are with him for the next three years in his earthly ministry. And Eleanor read for us this morning about how Jesus called Andrew and Simon Peter, they were brothers.
They had been disciples of John the Baptist. And so Jesus invited them to come and be his disciples. And you might think, well, that’s being a traitor. Why would they leave John the Baptist? But remember, John was very clear in his ministry that he did not come as the Messiah himself.
He came to prepare the way for the Messiah to come. He came to point to the one, John says, The one who is far greater than I is coming. And so that was Jesus. And so Jesus calls Andrew and Peter, who were, I said, they were brothers and John’s disciples, and they began to follow Jesus.
And they were from a town of Bethsaida, outside of Galilee. And Jesus also went there and he also called Philip. And Philip came and heard the voice of God calling him, inviting him to be a part of one of Jesus’ disciples. And John doesn’t give us much information in that story, but Philip agrees to become a disciple of Christ.
And then Philip goes to yet another friend from Bethsaida named Nathaniel. Now, was it a click? No, who do we tell? Who do we invite? We invite our friends, we invite people. Rarely do we invite someone we don’t know. We most often invite somebody who we do know to come and join us in something.
And that’s what Philip did. So he went to Nathanael and he said, you never guess who we’ve found. We have found the one that Moses wrote about and the prophets had written about. We have found the Messiah, Jesus, son of Joseph from Nazareth.
Jesus, the son of Joseph of Nazareth, identifying who it was that they had found. Remember by this time, Jesus is 30 years old. And so there he may be well known who partially known around in that area where he had been living. And so Philip goes to Nathaniel and says we found him, we finally found him.
Nathaniel says what some of us might say, can anything good come out of Cleveland? Are you kidding me? You know, somewhat maybe sarcastic, but I don’t think that’s quite the translation that Eleanor read, but it had that kind of, you know, can anything good come out of Nazareth? Who is this guy? And that’s a question that’s a good question for us to ask when somebody invites us to listen to somebody else or to hear someone else’s teachings or to follow them. Well, who is this? And what are their credentials? What’s their training? Before the partnership hired Peg Baumann to be our third preacher in our rotation, Pastor Matt and I sat down with her and talked with her on several different occasions about what What was her theology? What was her teaching? What was her understanding of scripture? How aware was she of the United Methodist tradition? Because Peg comes from the Anglican Church and studied at an Anglican seminary down in Ambridge. And so we didn’t say, Can anything good come out of Ambridge? Actually, Peg’s from Carnegie. So we didn’t say, Can anything good come out of Carnegie? but we said, Tell us about yourself.
What’s your background? What’s your training? What are your beliefs? Because we didn’t want someone preaching across our partnership, preaching something different than Pastor Matt and I were doing. So we talked with her. So Nathaniel says to Philip, Who is this guy? Why do you believe him? And Philip’s answer is very telling. Philip’s response is, Come and see.
His response is, Come and see. He doesn’t debate with Nathaniel, he doesn’t argue with him, he doesn’t try to guilt him into coming, he doesn’t try to tell him, Well, you have to do it, or, That’s what your parents would want you to do, or all those kinds of guilt trips that we put on people, because sometimes we do that. You know, guilt is a great motivator, right? right? You know, somebody, not Kelly maybe, but somebody said to me this morning that she hates when I post on Facebook my physical activity. And I said, well I do that because that’s for me my accountability.
It’s really there for myself. I’m sure I could just say to myself, but you know, part of it’s also, there’s a group that I’m doing, we’re working together to be more active this new year, and so it’s also my way of communicating with them. But you know perhaps it might have made some people feel guilty when they see that. And guilt is a good motivator as I said.
And you know that that happened to me not too long ago. There’s another woman in this group that I’m in and everybody has their own goal. Alright so the goal, the kind of universal goal for steps in a day is 10,000. And people wear pedometers and they you know I have a pedometer.
It’s the first thing I put on in the morning and last thing I take off at night because I went every step. I haven’t quite put it on when I go down to the bathroom during the night but maybe I’ll start doing that. Pick up another, that’s about 30 steps. I might think about that.
Well, so we all have our own goal and one day I wasn’t quite at my goal. I hate to tell you my goal is 15,000 steps because I was already doing 10,000 a year ago. So I’ve had to up my step number and so I decided okay you know I’m doing pretty get here. I only have about 13,000 steps today and Diane put on Facebook that she had done 17,000 steps.
I said, Oh no. So I got up off the couch and I walked in place while I watched some of the football game, you know, and I was up to, I caught my 15,000. I wanted her to be the top for that day, but it was a motivator. It made me feel guilty.
So guilt can motivate us, but let me tell you that that’s not a real good reason to have a relationship with God and Jesus Christ, because you feel guilty. Because God has forgiven us. God has redeemed us from our sin. But we come to hear the good news.
And the good news that Philip said was, Come and see. Come and see what’s going on. Come and see how things are going. And Nathaniel finally does that, and when he sees Jesus and kind of confronts Jesus, then he begins, he believes.
Throughout the season of Epiphany, as I said, and particularly in the Gospel of John, there’s that sense of revelation, that sense of epiphany, of understanding, of that insight. And in John, it’s pretty subtle. John doesn’t hit you over the head with it. John’s the one that records the parable of the sower.
And the sower went went out to sow seeds. Easy for me to say. And at the end of that story, at the end of the parable, remember what Jesus says? He says, Those who have ears, let them hear. Those who have ears, let them hear.
He doesn’t say, I’m telling you, I’m warning you, you need to listen to this. He says, Those who have ears, let them hear. Philip doesn’t argue with Nathaniel, but he says, Come and see. Come and see what we’re doing.
Come and see how this man is living out his life and what we have found in him. When Jesus interacts with people, he often tries to provoke a response. You know anybody like that, that’s always kind of nudging you a little bit or kind of trying to provoke something? Some people, when they do that, finally, when you do react, they say, Oh, Oh, well, why are you upset with me? That’s not what Jesus is doing, but he’s trying to find a response because he’s telling us that in response to his invitation, we need to respond, to decide, to either agree to come and see or to come and follow him, or to not. And people will say, Well, I’m gonna decide later.
You know that that’s already a decision, right? To decide, to not to decide is a decision. Jesus lays it out there, just like Philip did. Come and see. You can come and see what’s going on or not.
That’s your choice. You can decide. Those who have ears, let them hear. When Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night, you may remember Nicodemus comes and he was a Pharisee, he was a leader of the Jewish people and he said to Jesus, What must I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus says, well, you need to obey the commandments and to be born again, to be born of the Spirit, not of the water.
And Nicodemus had to make a choice whether he was going to respond to that or not. Jesus lays it out there and we have a choice. You know, I think sometimes Jesus feels like I do occasionally. I was with somebody recently and the person asked me the same question three times.
And I finally said, Okay, I’ve answered this question three times. You obviously don’t like my answer. So what’s the answer that you’re looking for? Oh, no, no, no, no, I’m happy. I just wanted to make sure I was clear.
Yeah. I think sometimes Jesus wants to say to us, Okay, I’ve invited you. I have encouraged you. I have, through the power of the Holy Spirit, I have sought to woo you.
You know what that term means? To woo? Any of you ever been wooed? Yeah, I know he’s going to admit it. Okay, all right, Rachel does. Way to go, Brian. To woo somebody is to invite them and by your presence and by the way your actions and by how you treat them to invite them, to woo them into a relationship with you.
And that’s what God does. God invites us, God woos us, God encourages us, not by hitting us over the head, and not by threatening hell, or not by all those things that we might think of, but woos us by God’s love and grace. And then when we respond in the affirmative, we have a chance to woo someone else, or we have a chance to tell someone else. When Jesus meets the woman at the well, the Samaritan woman at the well, You remember what happens after he talks with her for a while and she realizes who he is? She goes back to her village and says, Come and see this guy that I met at the well.
He’s told me everything that I’ve ever done. You will be amazed at what he knows about me and the living water that he’s giving to me. Come and see. You know, for most of us, when we hear that call of Christ, it’s pretty easy to say yes.
And we like to sing our final hymn as Jesus calls us, or the tumult. That’s chaos and the clamoring of other voices. Our opening call to worship says, Do not confuse the siren calls of the world for God’s call. I thought of Brian and Vince who respond to the siren call, which is the call of the firefighter.
I live right by Zone 3 police station. I hear sirens all the time, and I don’t respond because it’s not a call for me. But when my phone rings in the middle of the night, my heart’s beating. I’m ready.
I’m ready to go. I used to say that if you call me at 3 o’clock in the morning, somebody better be dead. What I meant by that, if it’s an emergency, call me. I had a woman call me one night years and years ago, and said she wanted to talk to me.
And I said, OK, you want me to come now? She explained a little bit what’s going on. I said, I can be there in 15 minutes. And she said, well, no, I want to make an appointment. Now, this is Monday morning.
And she had prefaced this conversation by saying, but I didn’t call the senior pastor because I didn’t want to bother him. So I’m already set up, right? So I say to her, Okay, you want to meet tomorrow morning? She said, Well, now my schedule’s really busy. Could we meet on Friday? You don’t need to call me in the middle of the night to make that appointment, alright? You can wait until at least 8. But God calls us in the midst of all of those other voices and those other people and activities and commercials and messages that are calling us to something else.
And we have to listen for God’s voice, to hear God calling us, because God continues to call us. And when we finally have ears that hear, we most often say yes to that call. And we think, Okay, that’s good, we’re good. But I think the struggle comes not once we’ve said yes but how do we live out that call.
There’s a sermon I haven’t preached for a long time that I called It’s not the initial cost, it’s the upkeep. I remember when I was in college I wanted to buy a car and I found this wonderful car for $300. Now that was a long time ago but it still was not very exciting and I said to my dad it’s only $300, you know why I I can get that and then I won’t need rides to school. I lived at home when I was in college.
And my dad said, it’s not the initial cost of that car, it’s the upkeep. When I was in seminary a few years later, I bought my first car. And I learned very quickly that it’s not the initial cost, it’s the upkeep of that car. And when we say yes to the call of discipleship, it’s not about just that initial calling, But it’s about living that call out and making those decisions every day of how you’re going to live out your life.
Are you going to live your life in a way that’s pleasing to God? Are you going to be the follower? The children were very mild this morning. I mean, I’m looking for jumping jacks, thinking we’re going to hop and jump up the alleyway. I don’t think I’ve seen either of them ever walk up and down the alley before. You know, they’re usually in a hurry to get to church.
You know, so I guess maybe we need to say that. We’re going to follow the leader when we get to the sanctuary. Jesus is our leader, but we never know exactly where he’s going to lead us. But we know by his own life that he’s going to lead us into temptation.
He’s going to lead us into ridicule. It may lead us to a place where our very lives are in danger, that there will be struggles in our lives. Just because we say that we are Christians and we have the Holy Spirit within us, it doesn’t make our life a bed of roses. Our life continues to be difficult, but now we have somebody walking along beside us.
In fact, Jesus has gone before us and he walks beside us and he comes behind us and he’s there to strengthen us and to support us through all those times that we struggle and all the times that we celebrate. Jesus is there with us. And so when we say yes to that call of Christ in our lives, we have an opportunity to be walking beside him. You know, many people like the poem Footprints, you know where Jesus, there’s two sets and then you look and there’s only one set and it’s Jesus said he carried us at that time.
I wonder if we ever sat down and kind of plotted out our own lives and figured out and maybe I think sometimes my, the reason I’d be having one set of footsteps is not because Jesus left me but I got off the path. I went somewhere else. Maybe it took me a while to get back. We make those little detours.
Jesus keeps going and inviting us to come and be with him. Come and see. There’s no guarantees. There’s no promises.
There’s just come and see and be together. Jesus calls each of us to come and be a part of the community of faith, to come and be a part of the life of Christ and to join those other followers as we follow our Lord. Amen.