Summary: When we dwell with the Lord, our hearts and minds are transformed.
January 19, 2020
Hope Lutheran Church
Rev. Mary Erickson
To Dwell with the Lord
Friends, may grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and Christ Jesus our Lord.
“Where are you staying?” The question John’s disciples ask Jesus is a common one. It’s a location question. Where are you from? Where do you live?
When we meet someone new, that’s one of the first things we ask them. We ask place questions. Where do you live? Have you always lived there? Did you move from somewhere else? Do you live alone or with others?
Where are you staying? In this brief gospel story, John uses one of his favorite words five times! In Greek, it’s µ???. We can’t readily tell that John uses it five times in our English translation because it gets worded differently. Men-o means to remain. But it can also be translated other ways as well. It can mean to stay or to abide, to dwell, or even to continue.
Men-o has to do with rootedness. When you’re rooted, you stay put. You don’t rove. When children grow up, they leave their parent’s home. And it’s not uncommon for young adults to move rather frequently as they’re starting out in life. Studies and starter jobs keep them mobile. But a time comes when you start to put down roots. You “men-o.” You settle in and remain.
Our story today begins with John the Baptist. He sees Jesus and he shares the story of what happened when he baptized Jesus. When Jesus came out of the waters, the Holy Spirit came down from heaven in the form of a dove. And the dove “men-oed” on Jesus.
The Holy Spirit came down and stayed on Jesus. The Holy Spirit Dove roosts right on top of Jesus. It’s taking up residence with him. That Holy Spirit is dwelling with Jesus, in Jesus. It’s living through Jesus. The Spirit of the Living God resides within Jesus.
John says, “The one who sent me to baptize with water told me that when I saw the Holy Spirit descend and “men-o” on someone, that person is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.”
When John points out Jesus to two of his disciples, they leave John and begin to follow Jesus. That’s when they ask Jesus, “Where are you meno-ing?”
And here’s how Jesus could have answered them:
“Well, funny you should ask! You see, I’ve chosen to men-o with you all! I used to men-o in eternity with my heavenly Father. But he and I, both of us I mean, we have loved the world SO much! And so I came to a point where I simply couldn’t men-o in heaven any longer! I just had to come and men-o with you!”
And maybe he did say all of that. Maybe that whole sentiment was wrapped inside of his invitation, “Come and see!”
“Come and see where I men-o! Come and see where I dwell! Come and see, and I shall show you the heart of God!”
And that’s what the two disciples do. They go with Jesus and they see just exactly where it is that he men-o’s. AND, John says they men-o with him!
They dwell with the Lord. They abide, they remain and continue in the Lord.
What happens when we dwell with someone? First of all, we discover who they are. Two people are in love, and at some point, their two pathways merge. They go from living under two roofs to living under the same roof. Now they may have thought that they knew their true love. But then they MEN-O! And, boy, do they ever come to know their love more deeply! They had barely scratched the surface before.
The other thing that happens when we dwell with someone is that they affect us. We become like they are. We pick up their mannerisms. We learn from them. Our perspectives are molded by their perspectives. Simply put, dwelling with someone changes us.
What is the power of a simple invitation to come and see? How can a soul be transformed by dwelling with another? The changes can be dramatic.
Derek Black is just such a person. An invitation to dinner changed his world views and his entire life trajectory.
Derek Black was born steeped inside a world of hate. Derek’s father is Don Black. Don was a Grand Wizard in the Ku Klux Klan. He is also the creator of the white nationalist website Stormfront.
Derek’s godfather is none other than David Duke, also a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. He’s authored several anti-Semitic books.
From an early age, Derek was seen as the heir-apparent to the White Nationalist movement. At age 10 Derek learned computer code and began writing the children’s page on his father’s Stormfront website.