Epiphany 2A – Come and See
Two disciples are following Jesus.
I imagine they are several steps behind him,
maybe they’re a little anxious – in any case, they are at least curious.
Jesus stops and turns toward them,
I think smiles at them, looks into their eyes, and then asks,
“What are you looking for?”
“What are you looking for?”
They fumble a bit and ask, “Rabbi, where are you staying?”
But Jesus knows that’s not completely true.
They aren’t looking for an address.
They’re looking for something more – much more.
Something perhaps which is too hard for them even to articulate.
Jesus answers with three words, “Come and see.”
…And isn’t that why we come here week after week?
I know I find myself looking for something quite often.
Searching for something I can’t quite articulate.
Longing for something I can’t quite find anywhere else.
And I find myself drawn here, to this place of worship,
to you this community of people,
to the words of this book,
to this table and meal of bread and wine.
Oftentimes, I don’t know what it is I’m really looking for,
but I do know whenever I have needed it the most
God has offered me the invitation over and over again,
“Come and see.”
“Come and hear.”
“Come and taste.”
These have been an especially difficult couple of weeks for all of us.
Together we have lived through the news of a national tragedy.
The shooting in Tucson has left us looking for something more –
despite what some newscasters have said,
we’re looking for something much more than mere civility or niceness.
If Jesus turned to us and asked,
“Well, what are you looking for in this aftermath of violence?”
Maybe we’d have a hard time answering him directly.
What do you look for in the face of such tragedy?
I know I’ve been looking for something –
something I haven’t found by planting myself in front of the TV
or by reading comment after comment on the internet.
If Jesus asked me “What are you looking for?”
I suppose that I’d be left like the disciples, answering a question with another question,
“Rabbi, where are you staying?”
“Jesus, where are you this week?”
“ I don’t know why, but I know I want to be where you are.”
There’s been more news recently of course.
Devastating floods in Australia and Brazil.
The overturning of a government in Tunisia.
Closer to home, there’s been death, divorce, and illness.
All of these events cause us to look a little harder,
search a little deeper,
long for something with more acuity.
And yet, if Jesus asked us, “What are you looking for?”
It’s hard to answer.
The disciples didn’t know their own question, but they were drawn to Jesus for an answer.
We’re told that they stayed with him all day.
Jesus said “Come and see,”
and they came, they saw, and they stayed.
Jesus helped them see something that day that stuck.
He opened their eyes to something that they didn’t even know they were looking for.
He gave them a vision that reached beyond Bethany,
beyond their lives as fishermen, beyond their small community.
This weekend we celebrate the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
King saw. King had vision.
He had vision that reached beyond Birmingham or Montgomery or Selma.
As he spoke, he wanted us to see it too.
He helped those of us who were white and privileged and powerful open our eyes to what we didn’t even know we were missing.
Using a phrase coined by the early 20th century philosopher Joshua Royce,
King called it the “beloved community.”[i]
The beloved community isn’t some utopian community
possible only in a fantasy novel.
For King, the beloved community is something very real.
It is a community which God has already envisioned.
It is a community which recognizes that we are interdependent creatures.
That injustice anywhere undermines justice everywhere.
That hunger, poverty, and homelessness are simply unacceptable.
That hatred and violence are incompatible with our values.
That racism and bigotry have absolutely no place here.
That there is more than one way to resolve conflict.
That because we are beloved we can be love to others without feeling threatened.
In the midst of turbulent and even evil times, King gave us eyes to see more –
to see the beloved community God intended for us.
In a book entitled, Notes on the Need for Beauty, J. Ruth Gendler
asks the question, “Who gave you your eyes?”
She writes, “Inside this question are several other questions.
Who taught you to see?
Who taught you what to see?
Who taught you what not to see?”[ii]
As those who lived through the civil rights movement know,
it takes some courage to allow our eyes to be opened just a bit –
we may see things we weren’t taught to see;
we may even see things we were taught not to see.
Yet this is the season of epiphany – of revelation.
And Jesus says, “Come and see.”
Allow me to open your eyes;
widen your gaze;
sharpen your focus.
You may not know what you really are looking for,
searching out; longing for
but it is here.
It is here in this very place of worship;
in this very community of people;
in the words from this very book;
in the bread and wine at this very table.
Come and see.
Come and hear.
Come and taste.