who heard my cry and
came to me.
Love raised me from the pits of
out of confusion and fear,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
There is a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to the Beloved.
Many may see and rejoice, may they
put their trust in Love.
Blessed are those who make Love
who do not turn to the proud,
to those who follow false idols!
O Beloved, how wondrous are your gifts
to us; your thoughts are
beyond our imagination.
Psalm 40 Nan C. Merrill, Psalms for Praying
29The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’31I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.”32And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’34And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.” 35The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!”
37The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 40One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). 42He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter). John 1 :29-42, NRSV
I was going through one of those transitional times of life when something unexpected, unwanted had happened. So I was in the process of rebuilding and rethinking and renewing myself. I was making decisions about where to live and what to do for work. I was also getting into shape. As part of this I started going to weight watchers every week. It was usually the same core group of women who came. I usually sat by this nice grandmotherly lady and we started talking and sharing more than our weight loss issues. Well one day after the class ended we started talking and she invited me to join her at a Coffee Break Bible Study. Now I got a little nervous because I don't do evangelical Christianity. I don't want to be saved. I've all ready got Jesus. So I had those thoughts but then God must have nudged me and her and so I agreed to meet her at the Coffee Break. So I admit I showed up a little leery and had given myslef permission to leave if they tried to save me. Well I sat down for the opening worship and they played upbeat music, the Acts scripture for the day was read and we prayed. Then everyone broke into small groups. That group came to mean so much to me. We checked in with each other, sharing our sorrows and joys, our worries, and hopes, are tragedies and laughter. Then we prayed with each other. We prayed for each other. Then we may or may not have studied Acts. But I did learn more about Acts during that study then I had previously. These prayers touched and helped me. That grandmotherly women said to me come and see. She shared with me a place where she had found the light.
Our scriptures for today are Epiphany Scriptures designed to reveal to us the Good news, the Light of the World coming to life. These scriptures share with us an epiphany moment, a time when God's presence comes alive. For John the Baptist, he saw the Spirit descend on Jesus and so he shares his testimony that this is the son of God who takes away the sins of the world. Andrew hears this and follows Jesus where he is invited to a new ministry. And for the psalmist has been in the pits but God brought him a song, brought his steadfast love and mercy.
As a pastor we are privileged to hear these stories of encountering God. We hear the stories of people who while sitting with a dying love one or journey through an illness experience the comforting presence of God. We hear the testimonies of people who while outside in the midst of loneliness of feeling lost, experience a sense of the vastness of the universe and the presence of God. We hear the stories of people who while feeding the poor, tutoring a child, building a house experience the movement of God using them to reveal the kingdom. We hear the stories of people who young and full of doubt have rejected the faith of their childhood, and learn to accept the doubts because of a sense of God's acceptance.
The first step in evangelism is learning to share our stories. John shares his testimony reminding us that God takes away the doubts, the fear, the grief. Andrew shares his epiphany of finding his purpose following God's call. The psalmist shares the pain of being in the pit and experience the promise of God. What story do you have to share of God touching your life?
The next step is found in section of John with Jesus where he beholds Andrew. Jesus sees Andrew, he perceives Andrew. He beholds his heart and soul and then asks: What are you seeking? What are you searching for? This is the part where we share our experiences as UCC, of being part of a community of faith that invites a person's questions and doubts. We invite people to search and seek and say we where we have found a place to explore those questions. And that is when Jesus says Come and See. We invite people to come and see. Come to a place where we have experience the light of God. Come with me to the place where I find hope and possibility. Come with me to a community where we pray for each other, welcome each other, comfort each other. Come and See.