What Are You Looking For? (Second Sunday after Epiphany) January 19, 2020

The Rev. Katherine Dougherty
Sermon Text: 

January 19, 2020

2nd Sunday after Epiphany – Year A

John 1: 29-42

“What Are You Looking For?”


It all starts with a question and an invitation.  The Season of Epiphany - these weeks following the birth of Jesus and the visit of the Magi, are filled with our stories of how Jesus’ divinity was revealed to those around him and to the world.  Last week, we heard the story of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus in the river Jordan.  We heard how in the moments that followed Jesus’ rising from the water, the heavens opened, the Spirit of God descended like a dove upon Jesus, and a voice was heard saying, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” 

         This week we enter back into the time of baptism.  We stand alongside John in the days that followed that baptism.  He sees Jesus approaching him and proclaims, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”  John calls for all to hear, “…this is the Son of God.”  He wants us to pay attention – John wants everyone to know that this man – this human is someone to take note of - to listen to.  This man, whom John baptized is the Son of God. 

         Based on our Gospel reading today, we know that at least two people paid attention.  Two of John’s disciples, those who were traveling with and following John the Baptist, approached Jesus.  They may have been curious.  They may have wanted to know more.  Jesus turns to them and asks a question, “What are you looking for?” 

         It all starts with a question and an invitation.  First the question.  Jesus’ first words in John’s Gospel are not a sermon, or the proclamation of the coming of the kingdom, or an announcement of who sent him, but rather a question.  “What are you looking for?”  When we look at this question in the original Greek text, it can also be translated… “What do you hope to find?”  We might expand that to “What do you long for?  What do you need?  What are you hungry for?”

         It’s a great question to ask at the start of a new year.  What is it that I want – what is it that I’m craving?  In a society such as ours filled with things to buy, we might find ourselves thinking of practical, physical items.  Yesterday, I heard someone talking about desperately needing a vacation to somewhere warm and sunny.  If we asked someone else, they might say they need a new car or a pair of new running shoes. At the start of a new year, someone might answer the question by saying they want to lose weight or spend less time at work.  We all know better of course.  We all know that true wealth comes from that which money can’t buy.  But message after message to the contrary can wear us down and push us to look for immediate gratification or substitutes.  Which is why it might be a great way to start off this new year pondering the question Jesus asked that day.  “What are you looking for?” 

         It all starts with a question and an invitation.  The two men reply to Jesus’ question by asking where he is staying.  When looking at the actual Greek translation, they were really asking where he is dwelling or remaining. They want to know where they could come and simply be with him.  And that leads to Jesus’ invitation.  His invitation is really quite simple: “Come and see.”  It’s non-threatening.  It’s clear.  If you think about it, it’s something any one of us might say.  If someone asked us where we go to church, or why do we attend All Souls Episcopal Church, we might use those same words…Come and See.  

         What is it that we get from coming here today?  Why do we keep showing up?  What does coming today give you – give me – give all of us?  Those two men saw something in Jesus.  They listened to John’s story of what happened, and they were curious.  In our 21st century language…they simply wanted to hang out with Jesus and get to know him better. 

         Faith in God is very relational.  Faith in God is not a quick fix – it takes time to develop the relationship.  Throughout the Bible we hear of how God has reached out to us over and over again.  Woven throughout Jesus’ teachings is lesson after lesson about how-to live-in community – how it’s important to be in relationships with one another.  How it’s important to care for one another regardless of our differences.  Invitations are inherently about relationships.  It is God through Jesus who invites us to be a part of something bigger than ourselves – to be a part of a loving community.  Even if we struggle to name or understand or articulate our faith, we know what it’s like to belong somewhere.  We know what feels like to be a part of a community – to be noticed – to be missed – to be loved – to be cared for.

         There are lots of things in our world that promise to make us feel good.  There are lots of reasons to not work at being in relationship with God or one another, and yet Jesus gently stands before us and asks the question…What is it you are looking for?  Jesus knows we are in need.  Come and see…he says.  Amen+

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