Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Lectionary Pondering - John 1:29-42

The reading that I am preaching from this Sunday starts: "The next day...". We are dropped into the middle of a story, and instantly want to know more - like someone following the trail of a wild animal, we backtrack to get a more complete picture. What happened yesterday?

John B. was confronted by clergy and lay leaders. "Who are you?" it is written, but can be read as "Who ARE you?" He was a popular (if controversial) public figure; they knew his name, rank, and serial number. "By whose authority?" is what they were really asking: do you have a permit to feed the poor?; do you have a license to use the Jordan River?; do have a Masters of Divinity?

"Do you claim to be Elijah returned?" No.
"Do you call yourself a latter-day Prophet?" No.
"I'm just a dude standing in the middle of nowhere. If you're worried about me, just wait for the next guy!"

So, "the next day". John is standing there watching. He is talking to someone. His disciples? The crowd? The clergy and lay leaders? Himself? "Look! That's who I was telling you about yesterday! I did not recognize him then, so God showed me who he was." None of us know who Jesus is unless God shows us - not even John B. recognized him! He did not recognize his own cousin? He knew who he was, but not WHO he was. He grew up hearing his mother's stories of the day she and Mary compared pregnancy stories (I throw up every morning. I have the strangest cravings. How much bigger am I going to get? Have you decorated a room yet?), and how fetal Johnny B. did a touchdown dance in Elizabeth's womb at the mere presence of fetal Jesus / embryonic God! Recognition is wisdom, discernment, and grace; the clergy and the lay leaders did not recognize John B.

So, "the next day". Day three, and John B. is standing beside the road; he must be looking for someone. There! He points out a man to two of his disciples. Were they his best students? Were they his inner circle? Why did he chose them? I have so many questions! "There he is!", (in other words "Go after him!). Jesus turned to ask them the question that we should ask all seekers: "What are you looking for?" Knowledge? Faith? Entertainment? Community? 

"We want to know you, be with you, follow you!"

"Come and see." 

When one of my grandchildren is very proud of something they did or made, they run up to me and say "come and see!" Jesus did not say "My church has great programs", "We have a dynamic preacher", "We are a Bible-based congregation", "We have great cookies"; just "come and see". A previous pastor had asked my family to discontinue going to church, we were too disruptive for the sanctity of their worshipfulness! But later, a neighbor stopped by and said that there was a new pastor, "come and see" she said.

It is written that one of the transfer student was Andrew, but why is the other not named? Was he one of the less famous apostles? Did he drop out? Was he John A. who had a funky way of talking and not talking about himself at the same time? Like I said, I have lots of questions. But we know that John A.'s gospel was contrary and yet complimentary to the others, focusing on catalysts and chains of events. John B. recommended Jesus to Andrew who invited Simon Peter who did a whole bunch of inviting. "The next day", Jesus invited Philip who invited Nathanael who no doubt invited others. 

We are part of this apostolic chain of title - we do not need to argue with eloquence and conviction, to be persuasive and convincing, to be super-holy saints. We just need to quietly say to those who show an interest: "come and see"; "come with me this Sunday, I'll drive"; "come with me and join some friends in a small group"; "come and see"; "come."

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