Monday 15 January 2024

Come and See

 1 Samuel 3.1-10 Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.

John 1.43-51 Come and see, we have found the Messiah




‘I have found something. I have found something so amazing, so life changing, so wonderful, that I just can’t keep it to myself. Come with me and see what it is.’


If I said that to you I wonder how would you respond?


If I said it was gold I had found, would you come with me?


If I said it was the most beautiful landscape or view in the world, would you come with me?


If I said it was the most amazing person, would you come with me?


And the other way round, if you had found something amazing, life changing, wonderful, would you be the one saying, ‘come with me and see what it is’?


It’s precisely what happened to Philip and Nathanael, not the most prominent of the disciples, by the Sea of Galilee.


Philip was called by Jesus Christ, and the first thing he felt compelled to do was to tell Nathanael who was, perhaps, his friend or colleague or brother: it doesn’t matter really, Philip just wanted to tell him.


And Philip’s invitation is ‘come and see’.


And the great thing is that Nathanael went and saw.


What Nathanael went to see was the fulfilment of all their hopes, the fulfilment of the deepest desires and dreams of their hearts: they had found the One who was utterly amazing, wonderful and life changing.


They’d found the promised Messiah of God.


The evangelical life, that is to say the life of living out and sharing the Good News (the evangelion, in Greek), is exactly this process of discovering something wonderful and of sharing the invitation.


That’s the Philip bit: ‘I’ve found it, come and see’.


The success of the evangelical life, if success is the word, is for the response to be for the other person to go and see: that’s the Nathanael bit.


The word ‘evangelical’ can be attached to a party or group in the Church, and you might say, ‘I’m not one of those’, but actually we are all called to be evangelical: our Christian life is incomplete if we do not say to others ‘come and see’.


Does that make you uncomfortable?


Does that excite you?


It certainly should make you re-examine the fundamentals of what faith is about: after all, Jesus’ Great Commission at the end of St Matthew’s Gospel is ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…’


Going and telling, sharing and inviting is at the heart of what Christian disciples do.


I wonder, when did you last invite your ‘Nathanael’ – a friend, a colleague, brother, sister, son, daughter, spouse – to church, to ‘come and see’ Jesus Christ?


And why wouldn’t you?


Each of us baptised as a Christian has been commissioned to be a Philip, someone who knows Jesus Christ as amazing, wonderful and life-changing.


Similarly, my task as a priest is to be a ‘Philip’ to you and to wider society.


The priest, the baptised Christian, who does not do this - looking out for Christ, inviting others to Christ - is an Eli, as in our first reading.


It said that Eli’s eyesight ‘had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, [and he] was lying down in his room’ (1 Samuel 3.2).


This is not a moment for Specsavers. It is talking about his spiritual eyesight, his capacity to get up and see the presence of God.


Eli is the person for whom the light had shone but now is dimmed, flickering and dull. He is the grain of wheat that shot up and is now wilting (cf The Parable of the Sower).


An Eli is the person who came to church but has lost his sense of what it’s about, who has got cosy, who can’t see and can’t respond to the word and will of God. That becomes spiritually corrosive to the individual - they become grumpy, gripey, obstructive and joyless, always suspicious and jaded – and that is spiritually corrosive to the church community too.


Yet, when we read on, in the book of Samuel it says, ‘the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was (1 Samuel 3.3).


That means that ‘the light still shines in the darkness’ and Samuel’s eyes and ears are open, ready to see the light and hear God’s gracious call, even if the Elis of this world can’t, won’t or don’t.


Samuel has placed himself in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was: he is nestled in God’s presence, incubating his faith ready for God to call, and when God calls, Samuel, in the example of all the great saints and believers down the ages says, ‘Here am I. I am listening (1 Samuel 3.9). Let it be unto me according to thy word’ (Luke 1.38).


Samuel saw - his eyes were open to God - as were Philip’s, as were Nathanael’s, as weren’t Eli’s.


Speaking for my own life as a Christian with you and priest for you, I have to speak and live the words I began with, ‘I have found something. I have found something so amazing, so life changing, so wonderful, that I just can’t keep it to myself. Come with me and see what it is.’


This happens in preaching: preaching should always be an invitation to come and see.


This happens in the Eucharist: the Eucharist is always an invitation to the hospitality of God, to come and taste and see.


For when people come and see their eyes are opened, their hearts are warmed, their souls are saved.


So let’s all be Philips and Philippas, inviting others to come and see what we have seen in Christ.


Let’s all be Nathanaels, and whatever the female equivalent of that name is, let’s come and see and encounter Jesus Christ.


That gets us to him and, you know, the even more wonderful thing is when we meet him he says, ‘you’ve seen nothing yet! This is but the beginning: ‘truly, truly I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man’ (John 1.51)


Now that’s something to come and see!

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