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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The readings for Jan. 15, 2012:

First Reading: 1 Samuel 3:1-10 [11-20]

Psalm: Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17 (Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18 NRSV)

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Gospel: John 1:43-51

In this week's Gospel, we see the start of Jesus' ministry--and what a simple start it is. A low pressure invitation to come and see.

Note what is left out of this narrative. I assume that many people declined Christ's invitation, for all the standard reasons: no time, conflict of interest, kids have after school activities, guests in town for the week, laundry and grocery shopping to do, too much work to do before quitting time; we are people with responsibilities; we can't just abandon them to follow some guy around the countryside. Experts tell us that it takes 4-8 invitations before a friend will come with you to church. Imagine what Jesus faced as he offered invitations to total strangers.

And notice that Jesus carries on. Jesus doesn't go off in a huff. Jesus doesn't spend time complaining about how he'd rather have a different sort of ministry. Jesus doesn't whine to God that God promised him something different, one of those mega-churches perhaps. Jesus walks from town to town, issuing a simple invitation: Come and see. The ones who respond to the invitation offer the same invitation to their friends. Come and see.

Jesus doesn't do spectacular miracles in the Gospel of John, at least, not at first. He tells Nathanael that he'll see great things, but he doesn't wow the audiences with his powers.

There are several powerful messages for us here in this Gospel. We, too, have been offered this invitation. Come and see. And what are we to make of what we see? How do we respond? Do we tell others? Do our lives change? Can other people tell that we've been changed?

One of the tasks that God calls us to do is to transform the world we live in, to make the Kingdom of God manifest here on earth. No small task. But God has given us an example of how to do this: Christ's experiences on earth show us the way.

For those of us who are members of small churches or small ministries, we should take heart in this example. Jesus doesn't start with a huge group. Jesus doesn't start with a huge budget. Jesus doesn't even have a building to call his own. Jesus shows us what we can accomplish with a small group of dedicated people.

Perhaps this doesn't sound like good news to you right now. Maybe you're tired and not feeling so dedicated. Maybe you find yourself waking up at 2 in the morning with doubts consuming you and eating away your stomach lining. Pay attention to the Gospel lessons in the coming weeks. God can work with that kind of disciple too.

In the meantime, listen for God. On a daily basis, an hourly basis, God constantly calls us to come and see. God always calls us to transform the world and God promises that transformation is possible, even probable. We are Resurrection People: Life blooms even in the middle of death, even in the deep midwinter.

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