Summary: Lessons from a little boy in Sunday School, the great theologian Thomas Aquinas, the first disciples Andrew and Phillip, and of course members of our own church .. but what about?
I was sitting in the barbers - you know the one? Just down at Old Field circus. I think it was the second time I had been to that barbers since I moved in, but the first time that particular girl had cut my hair. And we get chatting about the music they are playing in that salon (I think it was Heart), and she tells me all about the staff Christmas party they are going to that night, because, well, if something fun’s happening, you like to chat about it don’t you. And then she sees my dog collar , and she asks me which church I am from, and then she says…
But before we get to that, let me tell you a story about a little boy. The little boy comes out of Sunday School looking very disappointed. “What’s the matter darling?” his dad asks him. So the boy explained: "We were taught to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations," he said, "but we just sat." (1)
That little boy had understood what our Gospel reading today was all about. In our Gospel reading we hear about Andrew and Philip becoming Christians. Andrew has already been hanging out with John the Baptist, Philip as far as we can tell had no particular religious background. Indeed his parents were clearly so lax in their Jewish faith that they called him by a Greek name rather than a biblical one. But when these two young men meet Jesus, the effect on them is the same. They realise they have met somebody special - As Andrew puts it “we have found the messiah”. So what is the first thing both Andrew and Philip do on meeting Jesus?
Do they think - I must spend time with Jesus because I have got so much to learn from him, and then perhaps in a few years time I can train to be a Pharisee?
Do they think - Oh this is SO IMPORTANT - perhaps the two of us should get together and form a committee to work out the implications of what it means to be a Christians, not forgetting risk assessments and health and safety?
what is the first thing both Andrew and Philip do on meeting Jesus?
The first thing they both did is to tell someone about Jesus.
Andrew “first found his brother Simon and said to him “we have found the Messiah”... He brought Simon to Jesus…”
Philip goes and finds his friend Nathaniel - “Philip said to him, “Come and See.”
As a new vicar at St Barnabas, it is great to see new people here in church. It says something about this church - this is a church where new people are constantly coming. Anyway without embarrassing them too much, or saying whether they are here today or not, a few weeks after I arrived, there is one particular new family in church. There’s three of them. The next week they come back. The week after that they come back again, but this time there’s four of them. They hadn’t been to church before, they start coming, and I don’t know what words they use, but there is something about this God thing, this Jesus thing, that they like, so they say to the fourth member of the family, “you got to try this:Come and see”.
I told you how Heart was playing when I was in the Barbers down the road, well I also tend to listen to Heart in the car when I am taking Henry to school in the morning. Henry is rather partial to a bit of “Heart breakfast with Jamie and Emma”. at the beginning of the new year - many folk will have tried out some new diet or new exercise programme. And it being January, there is lots of talk about fitness programmes and diets and so on. Jamie tells us about how he is going to the gym and Emma Bunton tells us about the dance fitness videos she is trying. And people phone. I guess lots of people have been trying these things since January. If it didn’t work, you probably keep quiet about it. But if it works for you, you tell everyone about it “I have just been trying out this amazing new diet” - I have lost five stone. So people phone in and say to Emma “you got to try “ ...what was it, i think it was the “three minute belly buster workout” or another one - I think it was a 45 minute one called “agony”.
If we find something that is good for us, if we find something that makes a difference for us, it’s natural for us to tell other people about it - which brings me back to sitting in that Barbers. The girl has spotted my dog collar and she asks me which church I come from . “St Barnabas - just down the road”. “Are you the church with the giant figures outside?” The thing that really impressed her about us as a church is that we are the church that wanted to tell people about the Christmas story. we didn’t keep our nativity figures hidden inside the church, but we shared our story outside where people could see it. She started talking about the animals we have had in the past and all the other ways we as a church have been telling other people about our church.