Sunday, March 6, 2011

Epiphany 2A

There once was a young single mother who through less than healthy choices made by and for her was at the end of her rope. Everything she tried to do came out wrong, finances were tight, times were bleak, and she felt more alone than she had ever been before. She doubted her ability as a parent and had thoughts darker than she had ever had before. She had lost all hope. Never again would she laugh. Even in the presence of her daughter's sweet smile, all she had left were tears.

As she sat at the bedside of a beloved waiting for life support to be discontinued she heard “Come and see” in the words of a self less nurse who held her as she wept until there were no more tears.

As she experienced the anger that comes with the loss of loved one she heard “Come and see” in the words of an Episcopal priest who handled her rage with grace and peace.

As she gave the eulogy at the funeral of one too young to have died she heard “Come and see” in the hugs and tears of co-workers and friends.

As she tried place one foot in front of the other she heard “Come and see” in the smile of her daughter who somehow still loved her unconditionally.

It was in these people that young mother found Jesus. Each hug, each angry comment met with love, each shoulder given for her tears said “Come and see.” When she saw only darkness, God continued to send into her life and slowly into her heart a bit of light. Each tender touch, each kind word spoke softly to her broken heart, “Come and see.”

When she tired of running, the young mother did come and see. And what she saw astounded her. Her life which was so full of brokenness and pain, selfishness and pride, was turned upside down. What she was given was the chance to dance with a savior who threw out all her expectations, filled her broken heart and life with joy, taught her courage, and most important gave her a peace that passes understanding. That dance has allowed her to leave behind all she knew to move across the country to a place so flat you can see forever. And from there to a holy mountain where she was given a gift she never anticipated. And now? Now that woman has been called to a new place. A place rich in tradition and holiness. A place connected clear back to the very first bishop of this diocese who performed the first confirmation on these very grounds. That woman in choosing to dance with her savior has learned that in the midst of the difficult things of life there is love, there is peace, there is grace, there is truth, and mostly there is always hope. And that is what that woman wants you to “Come and see.”

Today's gospel shows us John's first encounter with Jesus. God has told John what to expect. John knows this is the Lamb of God. This is the one for whom all his work of preparation has been done. Rather than grumble that as time passes he will lose his followers, he points out to them that this is the one. All he has been doing is not for himself, but rather for this one upon whom the spirit of God rests. All this work of preparation is for God. Those people sent into the life of that young mother were much like John. They did nothing more than point to the savior, the redeemer, and help her open her ears and heart to the invitation to “Come and see.”

John knew unlike those that might have grumbled or looked to the glory they think John gave up, that it was never about him. His work, his call was to prepare. All he did was not for himself, rather it was to prepare the world for an incarnate savior. It was to point to the one for whom all the preparation had taken place.

As the followers of John seek him out, Jesus asks gently, “What do you want?”

I bet they really had no clue what they truly wanted. How often do we really know what it is that we really want? If we are honest we want a life that is easy and trouble free, yet we don't want to have to work too hard at it, do we? We want to know that if we agree to this life of faith that it will be one free of the bumps and bruises that come with life. And yet, if that were the case, how much would we lose?

Jesus says, “Come and see.” Just as those folks on that long ago day, we too are invited to “Come and see.” We are invited to spend time with Jesus. We are invited to dance with a savior who will step into our lives and our very hearts, shake everything up, and in the midst of that dance, that savior will call us.

We will be called to learn about the love of God. To learn that while life may not be trouble free, there is indeed nothing better. We will learn with time that when the darkness comes, and come it will, we are invited to that place where peace passes understanding.

We are not given a life that suddenly becomes easy, it is that life becomes less about us and more about the timeless things of life that have no price. It is a life in which we enter the dance with that dangerous savior who will mess our lives up in ways that we can never expect, but will always leave us with hearts bursting to overflowing with love. We are invited in to that place where the darkness is overcome by the light, where hope stamps out despair, where love conquers hate, and where we are loved fully, completely, and beyond our wildest imaginations.

And that is the amazing thing about God. We have a choice, we are invited. We are never forced to accept God's gifts. They are ours when we open our eyes, hearts, and lives to God. God's will is never forced on us. It is given freely with no strings attached. God is the perfect parent who loves us enough to let us make that choice. To receive that invitation.

When this invitation is accepted, we are given a new name. Just as Jesus names Peter. And this is indeed the good news. We are named, we are called, not based on who we are in our brokenness, pain, and yuck but instead we are called to God as we are seen through the eyes of Christ.

Remember Peter, Cephas, the rock of the church? He was called not because he would deny Jesus, not because he would jump out of the boat and sink, not because he would cut off the centurion's ear. He was called because in Christ he is perfect. When he was called, he was a mess. Yet, he was called. Jesus looks at Peter, looks at us and does not see our brokenness, our willfulness, our sin, rather he sees what we will become.

And if we say yes, if we open our eyes and our hearts, if we accept the invitation to “Come and see,” we will take part in an endless dance. A dance of beauty, of light, of hope, of peace, and joy. A dance that will never end and a dance that will teach us to invite others to “Come and see.”


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