Trinity Episcopal Church
RCL Year A - Epiphany 2 - January 15, 2017
1 Corinthians 1:1-9
More than any other time in the Church year, Epiphany is a season of light. It starts out with the Magi (or Wise Men) following that bright star that illuminated the night sky. It is a time designed by the church for us to reflect on coming out of the dark… Out of the dark and desolate places of our lives and coming to live out in the open… into the light of Christ. It is an invitation to be baptized as a believer in Christ and to participate and share in his ministry.
Last week was the First Sunday after the Epiphany – The Baptism of Our Lord, and in place of the Nicene creed in the service we stood up and renewed our baptismal vows… As it is fitting and proper to do on that day, as it is during the great vigil of Easter, on the day of Pentecost, and on All saints day. These are the major feasts that are especially appropriate for baptism but even though we didn’t baptize anyone, we took a moment to remember our own baptism… to remember WHO we are and WHOSE we are, by virtue of our own baptism – our baptism by water and the holy spirit into the life, death, and resurrection, of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ own baptism illuminates our understanding of who Jesus really is… The savior that takes away our sins and offers the whole world restoration and redemption… He is the Holy and anointed One, He is the Christ! And today, we follow that awesome reminder with the lessons that we just heard.
Last week we heard the story of Jesus’ baptism from the Gospel according to Matthew. But today, we hear a portion of the story a little differently from the Gospel according to John. In John’s story, the baptizer John (not the Gospel writer) proclaims several times who Jesus is. John the Baptist said, “look… there he is the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world… He is the one that I have been talking about… He is the Christ, He is the one that came into the world. Believe me, when I baptized him, I saw the Holy Spirit descend on him, and I heard the voice of God say that he was the one, God’s only son, with whom He is well pleased!”
Baptism is the first step… Our first step of our living into the light of Christ and embarking on the journey that we are all on together!
The theme that unites all the readings today is “Call.”
Who are we called to be and what are we called to do as baptized persons??
It is the famous writer Parker Palmer who says that our “call” by God, referred to by Palmer as our true vocation, is something we can’t not do!” I realize that his phrase is a double negative (and it’s driving the English teachers in the congregation crazy), but I think Parker uses this language it to make a point.
Our true vocation is this deep yearning, a yearning and seeking that is deep inside us. It is something that is knit into the very fabric of our lives. – It’s in our DNA. This is expressed by Isaiah who says, "the Lord called me before I was born" – before I was knit in my mother’s womb, you knew me!”
The Psalmist adds, that after waiting patiently for the Lord, "he lifted me out of the pit... and he set my feet on a high cliff...";
The epistle from "Paul, called to be an apostle," to Church in Corinth "called to be saints" and equipped with all the necessary spiritual gifts; even though they weren’t very good at it in practice.
John story, after he explains who Jesus is, is the call of the first disciples. I find that the most engaging part of this passage is Jesus' first conversation with the two disciples. He sees them following him and asks them a question, "What is it that you are looking for?" They answer the question with a question: "Teacher, where are you staying?" Jesus answers, simply, "Come and see."
The question he asks them first, "What are you looking for?" is strangely enough the question that begins the service of admission to the catechumenate. Since the ancient church, the catechumanate (from where we get the words catechuman and catechism – the learners and the teaching) has been the period of preparation for baptism.
It has most recently been resurrected in the church as a preparation for confirmation and spiritual enrichment: and I’m thinking very seriously about offering it during the Christian Education hour during Lent.
The question is "What do you seek?" in the Catechumanate service, the answer is "Life in Christ!" This is essentially what the Christian faith believes that all of us are seeking. Andrew and the other disciple don't know that – or at least the text doesn’t say it – But they do ask a question "Where are you staying?” Where are you coming from? Where are you going? And Jesus' answer to them was simple, open, and inviting: "Come and see."
We need to realize that the Gospel is not something that we read in a book or learn from a statement. It is a life, that must be lived and experienced to be understood. Jesus is inviting these two disciples, these two seekers, to “come and see” and share in His life. He doesn't set conditions, or insist on a permanent commitment, or make them “sign on” or “punch in.”
He simply invites them to experience what it means to live "in Christ," to live into the "kingdom life." That is at the very heart of that word that we are often afraid of as Episcopalians: “evangelism.” Evangelism - The way we tell the story of salvation and invite seekers to come and share in the life we have in Jesus the Christ. I invite seekers to “come and see.”
In Epiphany season, we are exploring and spreading the light of Christ through the world – beginning with us. On some level, each of us is continually being invited by Christ to share more deeply in his life. We are all called by our baptism to extend the invitation to the seekers that we meet to "come and see."
The completion of the story, of course, is the irony that Andrew goes back and invites his brother, Simon – who Jesus calls by a nickname, Cephas (in Aramaic) which translated to Greek is “Petros” or “Rock” (Petros in greek means rock). Peter, as we well know will be that steadfast rock of the continuing church - the keeper of the keys to the kingdom.
We need to stop and think for a minute: What if Andrew had not been invited by Jesus? And what if Andrew had not followed? What if Andrew had not invited Peter? How would Peter have ever found the way?
We never know what plan God has that may be set in motion by what we do as followers, as we invite people into the light of Christ, into the gospel life, and into the community of the church! And people who we invite come and see how we acknowledge and accept who Jesus is to us by the way we live.
To follow Jesus as Lord and Savior means that we are called to live into that gospel life that illuminates the lives of others. As Christians, It is our calling… our true vocation… It’s something that we can’t not do!
For a baptized Christian, Jesus is our source of light and life. He is our reason for being!
We all have many questions that we don’t have all the answers to, you have even heard me refer to life many times as one big mystery that we are all living into. But, we need to tune our ear this morning and hear what our Lord Jesus Christ is calling us to do.
Today – Jesus is calling us out of the darkness into the light. He is calling us to participation in the life of His Holy church… He is calling us to live out the gospel in our lives… And the question is: What is it that YOU seek? Follow Jesus… and come and see! You may actually find what you’re looking for…