SECOND SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY
The Rev. J.D. McQueen, II - All Saintsí Episcopal Church, San Diego, CA
Learning to follow directions is big at our house right now, and there are 2 things that I really try to emphasize:
1. Give directions because I love them Ė want them to be safe and happy, and learn how to keep themselves safe and happy.
2. We can follow directions even if we donít want to!
Of course, we never reach a point in life where we donít have to follow directions.
v Necessary in all kinds of circumstances Ė at work, on the road or in public places
v Vital for healthy relationships that we be able to listen to what people in our lives are saying and asking of us
This is true of our relationship with God as well, though it can be difficult because we often canít understand or appreciate what heís accomplishing.
v John the Baptist is a great example of this.
v When Jesus came to be baptized, he didnít get it and even balked at first, but submitted after Jesus reassured him it was the right thing to do.
Then, in this weekís gospel, John himself tells us how far from getting it he really was when twice he says ďI myself did not know him.Ē
v The thing is, John did know Jesus Ė they were cousins!
v But he didnít know him as the Messiah, the Son of God Ė not until he saw the HS descend and remain on him, the sign God had promised.
So we see that God called John and then gave him just enough information to follow directions, which is how he loves all of us.
v You see, we canít love God without serving him, just like we canít say that we truly love someone if weíre not willing to give of ourselves for them.
v The depth of the relationship is determined by the amount of ourselves weíre willing to give, so God never offers us more love than we can receive because that means asking more than we can give.
Now, when we do experience the love of God and respond by following his directions, even if we donít understand or want to follow them, our act of love and humble sacrifice makes room for us to experience more of Godís love.
v Because love and service build on each other God is always coming to us wherever we are to draw us closer to him.
v Progress in the spiritual life comes from responding to Godís love drawing us to his heart by moving him closer and closer to ours.
v And we see an example of this in the second part of todayís gospel.
Notice that Jesus doesnít come up and say, ďHi, Iím Jesus, the Lamb of God Johnís been telling you about, letís goĒ Ė he just walks by.
v Jesus doesnít demand anything from them, but simply comes to where they are.
v But when they encounter him, something resonates in their hearts and so they follow, and Jesus does the same thing with us.
Whenever we read the gospels, weíre presented with opportunities to be drawn into the life of Jesus.
v For John and Andrew, itís John the Baptistís testimony, identifying Jesus as the one theyíve waiting for.
v For us, maybe itís the mercy he shows to the woman caught in adultery or the compassion he shows to the parents of sick or oppressed children.
v Maybe itís the tears he sheds for Lazarus or the delight he has when people come to him in faith.
v Maybe itís the way he prays from the cross for those who hate him.
Whatever draws us in, weíre attracted because we want to experience it firsthand.
v So each time, just like with John and Andrew, Jesus is prompting us to look deeper into our hearts, asking us, ďWhat do you seek?Ē
v What are you looking for? What are you hoping for?
v We follow Jesusí directions because heís the answer to those questions, and even if donít understand that, his invitation is always, ďCome and see.Ē