Saturday, January 14, 2017
2 Epiphany Yr A Jan 15 2017
2 Epiphany Yr A Jan 15 2017 Audio
Come and spend the day with me, Jesus says to Andrew and his friend. Come and see where I am staying, come and see who I am. Come and spend the day with me. Jesus is the one they were waiting for, Jesus is the one they believed the stories they told were all about. Jesus, the Lamb of God, Jesus, the Son of God, Jesus, the one to whom John points. Come and spend the day with me.
You know, the meaning of words change over time. For example, hospital was a once a place for the reception and entertainment of travelers and pilgrims, from the Latin, "hospitality." Another, if you invested in someone, you clothed them, from the Latin "to clothe." So investment once meant "putting clothes on" which were vestments. The place I am going with this is the place we seem to be today with the word "evangelism," a word Episcopalians have had a hard time with for a while now. Even hearing the word strikes fear in the heart of any native Episcopalian, and even those of us who have come later in life to the light. We think of soap box yellers, we cringe at the thought of the question, "Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your lord and savior?" We are polite people, and know that this does not make for good dinner table or cocktail party conversation. Besides, what can stop conversation faster than, "Do you know where you're going when you die?" Or the one I like the very best, "Have you found Jesus?" I am always tempted to answer with, "I didn't know he was lost!" Or, "yes, he's been behind the couch the whole time!" The point is, that the word evangelist means "bringer of good news," therefore evangelism is to "bring good news."
Come and spend the day with me and I will bring you good news. Not such a bad way to evangelize, is it? Today I would like us to take back evangelism, to not be afraid of the word or of the activity. Today I would like us to respond to Jesus' invitation to spend the day, and listen to who Jesus calls us to be, and how Jesus calls us to be evangelists, how Jesus calls us to bring good news.
Another related word that elicits fear in many Episcopalians these days is mission. Mission has been related to the violent act of colonizing a people so that those people look and act and talk like the dominant culture. Our church, and others, have been guilty of this kind of mission in our history. And yet that is not what mission is all about. Mission is about building bridges and forming relationships and partnerships that may result in mutual growth and learning and compassion and healing.
Come and spend the day with me, and I will teach you about the good news, I will teach you about forgiveness and reconciliation, and you can bring that into the world and show others how to follow me. We claim to be followers of Jesus. Our baptismal identity is grounded in that claim. We reiterated that claim when we were confirmed, and we live out that claim every time we gather together to break bread. In the story we hear today, Andrew brings the good news to his brother and his friends, and together they follow Jesus.
Evangelism and mission are nothing more, and nothing less, than the invitation to come and spend the day with Jesus. To notice the amazing creation, to see where God is in your life, and to invite those you encounter into the Love, Freedom, and Truth that Jesus is. As with anything and everything, this takes practice. Your vestry practices evangelism, they may not know they are, but they do. Each time your vestry gathers, we begin in prayer and with stories about how we see God at work in our congregation and in our community. We call them Good News stories. God is at work, and we practice noticing that and describing that. You could practice that too. So the first part is to notice what God is up to.
The second part is to share what is important to you about your faith or your church. Why do you come here to Trinity every Sunday? Why do you seek Jesus? Is it because here you can be your broken, messy, confident, joyful, self in front of God and the rest of us? Is it because you are not perfect, but you want to find out what it is to be perfectly loved? Is it because you miss the mark, just like the rest of us, and in some way you know the freedom of forgiveness? Is it because you always have come here? Is it because you have a place here, you belong here? Is it because you help with GIFTS, or you deliver meals, or you give food and clothes to those who have none, and on some level you bring Jesus' incarnation to people who just need to eat?
The third part is the inviting, and we think the hardest part is the inviting. Like Andrew, who goes to get his brother, we too can invite those we work with, those we go to school with, those who we see in pain, to come and see. It may seem hard, but you invite people all the time, you invite them to your home, or to a movie, or to the concert, or to take a walk with you. It's no different. Come and see, what Trinity has for you. Come and see the Love that wins. Come and see how your life matters. Come and see the good news of Jesus in the word and music, in the bread and the wine, in prayer and silence, in who we are and what we do. Jesus says, come and spend the day with me. Come, and see who I am. Come and find healing, forgiveness, and love. Come.
And then go. Follow Jesus out into the world. Bring the Good News into your families and your work, bring the Good News into the marketplace and the community. Bring the Good News of God's healing love. Our voice matters. Our actions matter. We are the people who can make a difference. We are the people who know the true freedom of God's love. We are the people who know that no matter what we've done, how broken we truly are, that God loves us anyway. Preach this Good News with your life and your love. Proclaim this Good News with your heart and your soul. We are all related in God, show with your life the ways God's love in the world. Amen.