Pastor Paul E. Hoffman
The Second Sunday after Epiphany
Texts: Isaiah 49:1-7, Psalm 40:1-11, 1 Corinthians 1:1-9, and John 1:29-42
Beloved in Christ, grace and peace to you in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
What are you looking for?
It is a common occurrence in our Seattle home for me to be standing in front of the refrigerator with the door open and my wife to be asking, “What are you looking for?”
More often than not, my response will be something like, “I’m not sure, but I’ll know it when I see it.”
It is not unusual for this play to have a second act, when the fridge has been frustratingly slammed shut and I find myself now standing in front of the pantry.
I don’t think this is an uncommon scenario. Whether it’s played out grazing in the kitchen, clicking through channels and live streams on TV, surfing on the Internet, scrolling through FaceBook or other social media, we seem to be always on the prowl. At least I do. I am looking for something. I’m not sure what.
Jesus wastes no time as his ministry begins in John’s Gospel to zero in. What are you looking for? As a matter of fact, these are the first words he speaks in John’s account. Christ wants to know our hunger. Christ longs to slake our thirsts. Christ is eternally interested in us. Beloved ones: what are you looking for?
Flummoxed, as we might be, the disciples answer Jesus’ question with a question. And at first, “where are you staying?” might seem shallow, even a sort of stalling tactic, perhaps. But they are not asking for a street address and zip code, but rather a declaration of identity. Who ARE you, Jesus? What makes you tick? If I choose to lay down the remote, or close the refrigerator door, or stop googling through endless pages, what might I expect to find in YOU?
Come and see. What are you looking for? Come and see
There can be no mistaking that John is laying the foundation in this opening chapter that sets up his Gospel as the story of the New Creation. From “in the beginning was the Word” in the sweeping prologue to this seven-day intro to the spirit blowing over the wedding waters about to become wine as chapter 2 opens, Jesus is identified as the one who will make all things new. By Gospel’s end, and in the most unexpected means, by his own crucifixion, he will seal it, just as the first creation was sealed: “It is finished.”
Into our Gospel journey, this path through noise and silence, this way of daily give and take, Jesus invites those who are looking. “Come and see” Jesus says to the first ones gathered around him, and he says it to us in our looking. Here. Today. “Come and see.”
Come and see. Come and taste new wine, join the ranks of those born again, quench your thirst with living water, catch a glimpse and promise of one you love be raised from the stench of the grave, know that this Lamb of God is the one, the only one, who can truly, eternally satisfy you, and goes ahead to prepare a place for you.
But know also that the winding path we make with Jesus, with those who also make the pilgrimage and sojourn by his side, will end up at the foot of the cross. Even today – even this very day! – you will come to the foot of the cross to feast on a body that is broken, a cup that is poured out. For it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
From the get-go, Jesus knew that this would be a journey we could never make alone. And so, by the grace of God we are washed together in the same waters, fed and nourished on the same loaf, drinking from the one cup. Look around you. These are the ones with whom Christ calls each of us to be a light to the nations. These are the ones Christ calls each of us to work tirelessly with for peace and justice for every single child God has created.
It is too light a thing that we would do this for ourselves only. We are called to work together to bring this love story to the ends of the earth. It is mighty, holy work, and the Divine, Eternal Lover will sustain us every step of our way into the New Creation.
In the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.