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Join Us For Worship!

Join Us For Worship!
Sundays at 8:30AM, 9:45AM, and 11AM

Saturday, January 15, 2011

SERMON
John 1:29-42 January 16, 2011

GOSPEL: John 1:29–42

“What are you looking for?” Jesus asks.
And the disciples of John ask Jesus: “Where are you staying?”
And Jesus responds “Come and See”
Jesus said what? COME AND SEE!

The disciples of John are not interested on which side of the tracks Jesus lives or if he lives in a brick Tudor or in a tent – or if it is a one room shack or a 20 room mansion. They do not want his house number, or the apartment number. They want to know where they can go to be with him.

“What are you looking for?” Jesus asks. And they want to know where they can go to be with him. To be at the center of his world. To be with the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. And Jesus invites them to “come and see.”

There’s this pastor, a guy named Mark Pierson. One day he goes, like many of us perhaps, to his high school reunion and listens to his surprise as friends and acquaintances talk about their longings, their faith, and their spirituality. Many of his old friends, he found, were on spiritual journeys – seeking to find answers, he says, that would bring meaning to the experience and questions of their lives. What also surprised him was that none of them had found what they were looking for in any church or Christian community. Maybe it shouldn’t have surprised him, but it did.

And then driving back home, something happened that broke him and left him in tears:
He realized that if they had come to the church that he was pastoring, they would not have found their answers there either. “We all had similar hopes and dreams and questions, yet I wouldn’t want them to come to my church because I knew that it would put them off instead of turning them on to Jesus,” he said.

Did you hear what he said: “I knew that it would put them off instead of turning them on to Jesus.”

“What are you looking for?” asks Jesus.
And the disciples of John ask Jesus: “Where are you staying?”
And Jesus responds “Come and See.”
Jesus said what? COME AND SEE!

Mark Pierson’s concern wasn’t that his church wasn’t contemporary enough – Not about the music or the preaching or whether folks wore suits and dresses or blue jeans and flip flops. It wasn’t about whether they used video or hymnals or a high church liturgy or an implied order of service. It wasn’t about the preacher wearing robes or an untucked shirt or if she preached from the pulip or from the floor. Why Mark wept and the question over which every congregation should give pause and weep in concern is this: As we gather as a faith community for worship, are people being nourished and sustained in the faith for their following of Christ in the world?

Any congregation that answers “yes” is more than likely a place where people will be led to “come and see” and if not, if the answer to the question is “no” then no high priced, high tech sound and video system, no award winning music ministry or smorgasboard of programs will make a difference in the long run. And life, folks, as we all know, is a long run.

“What are you looking for?” asks Jesus.
And the disciples of John ask Jesus: “Where are you staying?”
And Jesus reponds “Come and See.”
Jesus said what? COME AND SEE!

A young lady wanted to have her baby baptized. It was probably my second year here, so we are talking about nearly a decade ago. I visited her and her family and we talked about baptism – the significance – death to life – the forgiveness of sins – the promise of the Kingdom – powerful, wonderful, awesome stuff. This was an important moment for her – what some call a liminal moment – where a major event in life opens us up to the possibility of real and significant change. In this case it was a baby allowing the Holy Spirit to open up this young woman’s life to re-enter a faith community. A moment of what we might call Kairos – one of the two words the New Testament uses for “time.” While chronos means time like we might tell using a watch, Kairos means opportune time – God’s time – the time when the door opens for a moment and we either step through it or not.

She was nervous about the event, not having been at a worship service since she was a child. She was nervous about what to do, what to say, what to wear. A quick read of the New Testament suggests that Jesus never was overly concern with what people wore in his presence, but this young lady was. In our gospel text today Jesus walks by John the Baptist and his disciples and John says “Look the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,” and what he does not do is to tell the disciples that they better hurry homer and put on their best pair of sandals and their fancy robe before Jesus moves on to a new place. John is concerned about pointing out Jesus to the disciples so that they could follow Jesus. Nothing else mattered.

Let’s flash forward: the young woman shows me the dress that she is going to wear to the baptism – is this OK she asks. “Of course,” I tell her. It’s beautiful.” So the day of the baptism there she is with her little baby and wearing the dress that she had showed me and all some of the folks in the congregation could talk about was the dress, whether it was churchy enough. It was the best that she had – but for some that miracle of baptism was much less important than the dress – the best that she had. And that day, in the privacy of my car, I, too, wept, wondering if we could truly be a congregation for those who didn’t have a clue about Jesus or who had some inkling, some thought, coupled with a great desire to know him more deeply. Could we also be a congregation for them? It was not an idle question.

“What are you looking for?” asks Jesus.
And the disciples of John ask Jesus: “Where are you staying?”
And Jesus responds “Come and See.”
Jesus said what? COME AND SEE!

Nothing is more important to me as your pastor then to lead you in wrestling with this question: How as a worshipping community can we better nourish and sustain the faith of the people who gather here, for the following of Christ in the world.

It is not about trying to do what someone else is doing, this mega congregation or that one. Just aping what slick thing another congregation is doing is pretty much a cope out – shallow and lacking integrity. Rather, it is about our struggle to understand our context, our community, our history, our present and our future, our mission field and discern what God is calling us to do and to be.

Why – why struggle – why not just accept who we are now and be content with all that we are now? Because this neighborhood, this city, this county and all of South Florida is full of people like that young lady whose child we baptized 8 long years ago. It is full of people like the two young ladies we baptized just last week at the early service. It is full of people just like us and absolutely nothing like us. It is full of people full of questions seeking meaning in their life and the Holy Spirit has led them here and we should never be satisfied that we are doing all we can in our sacred call to nourish and sustain the faith of the people who gather here, for the following of Christ in the world.

Think about one thing that we do that we need to stop right now that is getting in the way of people wanting to come and see Jesus here.

Thing of one thing right now that we need to start doing to help sustain the faith of the people who gather here, for the following of Christ in the world.

Take a few minutes and if you are comfortable with it turn to the person next to you and share your answers.

If you want write it somewhere on your worship slip.

Think about one thing that we do that we need to stop right now that is getting in the way of people wanting to come and see Jesus here.

Thing of one thing right now that we need to start doing to help sustain the faith of the people who gather here, for the following of Christ in the world.

"What are you looking for?” asks Jesus.
And the disciples of John ask Jesus: “Where are you staying?”
And Jesus responds “Come and See.”
Jesus said what? COME AND SEE!
Amen.

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