Summary: Remembering the excitement of becoming a Christian
Come and See
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
I was reminded this week about age. I now say things that I heard my grandparents say. Things like, "I remember 40 years ago this month," or, "I remember the lines that we stood in to get our polio shots," or even, "When did they stop delivering milk and whatever happened to milk bottles?"
Obviously, I spent some time reflecting this week and it all started when I read this morning scripture. Philip is asked by Nathanael, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" And Philip answers him, "Come and see."
It was like a flash back to a time long ago. Young Tony, our son, was maybe four. All the extra fat of a young child gone, hair almost white from playing in the sun most days, and he came running into the house. "Dad, Come and see!" "What, Tony?" "Hurry! Come and see!"
I followed him into the back yard and he had discovered for the first time a Horny toad. They were not near as plentiful as when I had been a youngster and it had taken my son longer to discover this wonder of nature but here was one of those moments in life that takes you breath away. This small creature that is a throw back to another time, to another age. It is a moment that transforms a view of the world. Horned Toads are small but look like a prehistoric monster and that is both their strength and their weakness. They are nearing extinction because of their unusual characteristics. Everyone picks them up and takes them home and they die because we don’t know what to feed them. While I am still amazed when I see a horny toad and I can’t remember the first one I ever saw, I am so glad I was there to share when my son came and hollowed, "Dad! Come and see!"
I am not always a very good lectionary preacher. Each week I read what the Old Testament, Psalm, Gospel and Epistle Lessons are but I believe that you give me the subject and the text to preach from. But this week, I read each and they fit to well that I knew I had to find a way to tell you about the excitement of these four lessons and the wonder that is there.
The first lesson is the Old Testament story of Samuel’s call by God. You know the story. Samuel is called, "Samuel, Samuel!" and he runs to Eli. Eli is an old man and asleep. "I didn’t call you. Go back to bed." Samuel goes back to bed wondering if he was hearing things. "Samuel, Samuel!" He jumps up and again runs to Eli and again Eli sends him packing back to bed. Samuel again lays down and again God calls him, "Samuel, Samuel!" Again he runs back to Eli and this time Eli was still awake and finally gets it. "It’s a God thing." Eli tells Samuel to go back to bed and when he is called again, to answer, "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening."
There is a moment that will take you breath away. God speaking to you. That is a moment you will remember. What a wonderful way to measure your life. When God speaks to you.
God was searching for Samuel and we understand that when we read the Psalm lesson. "You have searched me and known me. You know everything about me. The knowledge that God knows us better than we know ourselves is almost overwhelming. Yet, when we finally understand it, it is a moment that takes our breath away. It is a way to measure our lives.
The Gospel lesson ties them all together as it always does in some way. It is the wonderful story not just of Philip’s call to follow Christ but of Philip’s enthusiastic response to the call and of his telling Nathanael to come and know Christ. Nathanael’s response is one that many of you have heard in differing ways when you invite friends to church. "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Then there is Philip’s response, "Come and See!" Nathanael did and was rewarded by his action. He found out that Jesus knew who he was. More important, Jesus had a plan for him in his live and in the next life as well.
This afternoon, I am going to be talking with members of other Methodist Church’s in our District about evangelism. The crux of what I am going to be talking about is what is not working in evangelism and the question will be, why are we still using it? Because I am not their pastor, I suppose that I can’t tell them what the real problem is in evangelism but as I read these passages, I think I have a better understanding of why we are not any better at evangelism than we are.