Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
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What Are You Looking For?

January 15, 2017
John 1:29-42
In the Name of One God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
The very first words Jesus speaks in the Gospel according to John are “What are you looking for?”
He begins his relationship with his eventual disciples with a question, not instruction, with an invitation “Come and see” – not a demand.
If we take a moment to reflect on the dialogue between these three men – Jesus and his first two disciples – we can see a model of discipleship and relationship into which we too are being invited.
We begin with two disciples of John the Baptist – two men who knew God – but did not know Jesus.
On this particular afternoon – at 4:00 o’clock to be exact, their whole world changed. They saw Jesus on the road, their interest was piqued (in no small part due to John the Baptist’s description: “see the lamb of God”), and they started to walk towards Jesus, following at a distance.
But then Jesus turns toward them.
“What are you looking for?”
This question – put to these first disciple of Jesus - is also the question that is put to us as we begin or deepen our journeys in faith, our journeys of discipleship, our journeys to God, our journey’s into God’s call to us.
“What are you looking for?”
“Ahh, Jesus, how much time you got?”
It may be reading too much into the disciples’ response to Jesus: “Where are you staying?” – to say that they, too, were implying it would take a while to come to articulate – or even understand - what it was they were seeking.
But, for us and for our spiritual journeys, time lingering with Jesus is a must.
“Where are you staying, Jesus. This is going to take a while.”
“Come and see,” Jesus answers us as he answered the men on the road.
They likely followed Jesus to the actual place he was staying. They probably stayed up all night talking about religion and Jesus’ mission and ministry – the costs and rewards of following Jesus.
Unlike these two men, we don’t meet Jesus on a road in Palestine - in the flesh – in his room. We are not invited to stay with Jesus overnight.
So where can we find Jesus? Where is he calling us to meet him?
For some of us, we meet Jesus in worship, in the liturgy we experience today. In music, in old hymns. In communion bread and wine.
Some of us meet Jesus in fellowship, in the faces and lives of others.
Some of us meet Jesus in creation, in beauty as it is revealed to us.
Some of us meet Jesus in silence, in prayer, in the beating of our hearts.
Some of us meet Jesus in the midst of the chaos of our lives.
Some of us meet Jesus in pain and grief.
Some of us feel we have yet to meet Jesus at all.
But Jesus IS here with us, as promised.
He is with us right now and we can linger with him and his question to us: What are you looking for?
This moment right now – may be for some of us the first time we hear – really hear and entertain – this question.
Or this moment right now may be a time in which we hear this question in a new way. Or when we hear it and know our answer is quite different than it was last week or the week before.
When we step in the doors of this church, we orient ourselves to God. We have come to meet him, or to follow him – perhaps at a distance.
God - in Jesus – sees us and is turning to us all right now.
And there is a question on his lips: “What are you looking for?”
God has been waiting for this conversation from the moment we were conceived in the heart of God. God is just waiting – hopefully anticipating – like kids on Christmas morning - to be in conversation with us – to have us linger with him – in Jesus – for a while.
As one writer says, “When the human mind begins to seek and the human heart begins to long, God comes to meet us far more than half way. God does not leave us to search until we come to him; God [has already come out] to meet us. As Augustine said, we could not even have begun to seek for God unless he had already found us (William Barclay in The Gospel of John in the New Daily Study Bible, p 101).”
That said, the relationship of discipleship we are being invited into this morning is founded not only in God turning to meet us, but also on our turning to meet God - with an open mind, an open heart and a readiness to talk.
We have to own the answer to the question put to us.
“What are you looking for?”
The answers to this question will be as varied as the folks in this room.
I am looking for sanctuary.
I am looking for peace.
I am looking for security.
I am looking for love.
I am looking for belonging.
I am looking for family.
I am looking for a stronger relationship with the divine.
I am looking for an experience of God.
I am looking for healing.
I am looking for understanding and inspiration.
I doubt any of you came in here today looking for a way to kill an hour of your day. Time is way too precious. We came through these doors in search of something this morning and God is asking us to name it.
God is asking us to begin – or deepen - our relationship with him by naming and owning what it is we are seeking.
Discipleship is not passive, our relationship with God is not one sided.
And what it is we are being invited into will take our lifetime to discover. Though we may remember the exact time and place we first heard the invitation:
Come and see.
It was 4 o’clock in the afternoon when these two disciples first met Jesus on the road. They never forgot that moment. One decided to record it for all time.
Come and see.
And the disciples did just that.
Water was turned to wine.
The lame were healed.
Thousands were fed.
A dead man was raised.
They saw Jesus betrayed, arrested, crucified, and buried.
And then they met the resurrected Lord.
“What are you looking for?”
I imagine all of you are seeking what the first disciples sought: purpose and meaning in life. They found their purpose and meaning in the life of God – the life of sacrificial love.
They followed Jesus to the cross and to the empty tomb and to the knowledge that death is never the last word, and that life has meaning when it is given away. Life has meaning when it is lived in love. When it is lived in God.
Come and see.
Over the next few months, over the next few years, people will be walking into the doors of this church for the first time – maybe some of you have walked in here for the first time this morning.
Like you and me, everyone who comes through these doors is searching for something.
God wants us to articulate and own what it is we are seeking. And God wants us to discover the joy of lingering with Jesus – of discovering the divine closeness that is available to all of us.
This is what I believe God wants.
And now here is what I want:
I want all of us – to offer everyone coming through these doors this year –or anyone we believe might want to worship with us - an invitation.
If this church has meant ANYTHING to you – to your life of faith, to your relationships, to your health, to your ability to rise above, to love, to rely on others, to be open to God – if this church has meant anything to you – than it can help others find meaning too.
Come and see: this invitation is really simple. Jesus built his movement on these three words.
Come and see.
Find what you are looking for.
Not in the walls of the church - of course – but in the God who abides here, among us all.