15 January 2023
Sermon By: Rev. Dr. Robin A. Reed, Rector
1 Corinthians 1:1-9
Sunday Cycle of Prayer
The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)
St. Margaret’s Church, Inverness
St. John’s Church, Kissimmee
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
In the early 1990’s, a father wrote a series of books filled with wisdom, humor, and guidelines for wholesome living for his college-bound son.
Life’s Little Instruction Books which you may have in your library include both practical ideas such as, eat your prunes, put the cap back on the toothpaste, say please and thank you a lot and gems of wisdom; learn to listen, for opportunity sometimes knocks very softly, never cheat, read your entire Bible in a year.
Three little volumes with over 1095 wise ideas point the author’s son and people, like you and me, toward living wholesome lives. Just like Life’s Little Instruction Books, The Bible, God’s word, the Holy Scriptures written by disciples long before us point us toward God and away from ourselves and encourage us to discern, along with reason and tradition, how God invites you and me to live holy and righteous lives.
Luckily, God doesn’t expect us to remember 1095 guidelines!! God knew you and I need a simple faith, a faith experienced in relationship easy to teach, learn, share, and remember as we live into being God’s disciples. Jesus, as you recall, simplified the 648 Torah laws and 10 Commandments into 1 Great Commandment, love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself.
And God simplified Discipleship 101 into two important movements, Go and Tell and Come and See.
God invites us, as God did with John the Baptist, to Go and Tell our brothers and sisters throughout the world of God’s great love and mercy in our lives. But to be able to Go and Tell God invites us into a relationship with God to Come and See who Jesus truly is, to build a sure foundation so we might know who we truly are as his disciples.
This morning’s Gospel lesson jumps ahead quite a few years from last week’s Feast of the Epiphany, the arrival of the Magi, to meet the toddler Jesus. This week we find ourselves by the banks of the Jordan River the Jewish authorities have come down from Jerusalem questioning who John the Baptist is and what his role is in baptizing with water and Jesus after emerging from the wilderness after 40 days has been baptized by John.
This morning, we hear “John’s testimony”, John’s Epiphany, his sudden understanding of the divine presence for while baptizing Jesus he sees the Dove descending, anointing Jesus with the Holy Spirit and he hears the voice of the God confirming Jesus’ identity as God’s Son. John perceives for the first time how his own calling works in God’s plan. God has become incarnate in His Son Jesus’s essential nature is human and divine and his message is life giving.
Jesus, the Lamb of God, is the One, the One John the Baptist and the whole nation of Israel have been waiting for. God’s son, the sacrificial lamb God will provide for the sins of the world. Not surprisingly, John in his exhilaration proclaims first to the crowds and then to his own disciples that Jesus, the Lamb of God, is in their very presence.
I suspect at some time in your life you have encountered someone who impacts your life and points you toward God and the holy. A gifted Sunday school teacher
your children or grandchildren who encourage you to be curious, your spouse or partner or friend who reflects God’s goodness to you. And then you boasted to other friends about them to encourage others to draw near to them and experience God’s glory.
I know I have and one of my goals in 2023 is to have more gratitude to thank God more often and in the moment for each of you the random people I meet and situations I encounter that remind me of God’s love and at times convict me to return to live a more holy life...
One of God’s two invitations for us as disciple (and a primary theme in John’s Gospel) is the importance of witnessing, Going and telling others sometimes with words, often with actions hopefully with words and actions in unison.
Tellingabout how God’s Story has become your story Jesus’s daily presence has empowered you. The Holy Spirit’s has helped you grow and walk in love with Jesus Christ as the principal witness, John the Baptist is our first fully human witness who teaches us and testifies to what he has seen and heard of the Father how he knows and experiences the Father and how in his actions and words he reveals the Father’s nature and will. John the Baptist who in the womb leapt when his mother, Elizabeth, met Mary, pregnant with Jesus and in the Jordan river baptizing Jesus experienced an epiphany he has to share with his disciples and the world even if his disciples will move onward.
This week I got to wondering what does John teach us about being witnesses for Christ? First of all, John pointed away from himself to testify to the power of Jesus Christ ”I must decrease and he must increase”... John later spoke, John let go of his pride to adopt a spirit of humility, recognized all he had and all he was, was a gift from God proclaimed his own experience what he had seen and heard.. his own story.
Secondly John spoke with authenticity and authority. John told others about his personal experience of God’s presence strong witnesses speak about their life experiences in a believable, genuine, and honest manner there is no need to be eloquent or use big words just to be authentic.
Thirdly, John had the courage to have first-hand experiences of Christ to draw near to him, a credible witness experiences and shares God’s healing presence, mercy, or grace in their own or others’ lives. For people, as you know from any experience in court have difficulty believing hear-say or second hand information.
And that means, as we see with John the Baptist and the disciples he mentors we need the curiosity and willingness, and at times encouragement from others to accept Christ’s invitation to be in a relationship with Him. For Jesus asks each of us, just as he did with Andrew and the other disciples “What are you looking for?” What do you seek? Not Surprisingly Andrew and the other disciples ask to stay with Jesus, to remain with Him, to have more than a passing conversation but to spend time with him in his home, at his side, to move beyond surface pleasantries, to know Him and his personal witness as God’s own Son.
And in doing so, their lives were touched exceptionally by Jesus. They had the exhilaration and courage to boast to others about Jesus drawing near to Christ they were empowered to Go and Tell. And in response Jesus voices, God’s second invitation to discipleship to Come and See, to develop and make Christ our sure foundation as we follow him and accept his invitation to spend time in his company all the days of our lives reading and study of the Holy Scriptures, receiving the holy sacraments of Communion, serving others and living in relationship with each other and our community. As we hear with the Disciples
Jesus offers a simple invitation we don’t have to pass a TSA pre-check, have a passport or even produce identification which we did yesterday at Convention!
All of us are invited to COME and SEE, to fill up our cups with Jesus’ mercy, and grace so we can GO and TELL the world about Jesus’s love and salvation. For as we see when Andrew brings his brother Simon to Jesus, Jesus already knows our name and our family, has a vision of whom He desires us to become and wants us to understand how our story interacts with God’s larger story in Jesus Christ, our Lord.
As Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury writes....
..[who we are... our identity].. cannot be understood apart
from Jesus.... since we received our name and identity in baptism..
the beginning that reminds us of the end, the death, the burial,
and the resurrection... of Jesus Christ.....
In our Baptism we are united with Christ and with one another. And so this week take some time to ponder.....What am I looking for? Draw Near to Jesus, fill up your cup with His mercy and grace and then Go and Tell our hurting world of His love.