January 19, 2020

2 Epiphany 2020

Passage: Isaiah 49:1-7; John 1:29-40

Let your light, O Jesus, shine upon our way.  You who are Child of Mary, Lamb of God

the One who takes sin away.  Shine, Jesus, shine.  Amen.

 

Jesus asks a very poignant question to John’s disciples:  ‘What are you looking for?’

Not who but what.  And Jesus asks that of us this day: what are your looking for?

There are too many names in the Prologue of this gospel for Jesus to put him nicely in a box.  Logos: God’s Word.  Lamb of God: good Shepherd.  Rabbi: Teacher.  The one on whom the dove rests: anointed.  So which one is the one we should follow?  The answer is simply ‘yes.’  This question might have been asked of the exiles in this reading from Isaiah: what are you looking for?  Redemption?  Home?  The Servant is the one sent from God to guide them through this tumultuous period.  This is the one called from before birth to be a servant, to be a light to the nations.  Sounds familiar to us from this season of Epiphany.  This is how we also name Jesus: light, servant.

But Isaiah’s servant is also despised even though chosen, the one who speaks on behalf of God.  And Isaiah’s servant is also Israel.  So what are we looking for in this passage?  We, too, want some assurance that the one we name as Servant is also chosen is also light to not only us but to the nations.  But to be light and to be chosen

is also to be destined for hardship and affliction simply because the life of discipleship

the life of obedience is not an easy life.  Commitment to God is not to be given half-heartedly.  What are we looking for?  I believe it is meaning to our lives, depth of purpose, defining our moments and our days.  But we also know that we get in our own way and we certainly get in God’s way.  Which is where the concept of sin comes:

sin in John’s gospel is a conscious deviation from the right.  It is separation from God

that includes all humanity and all nations.  Not individuals.  Which is why it is singular.

Sin is unbelief on the grand scale of being human.  And John the Baptizer names Jesus as the one who comes from God to reconcile humanity to God.  What are we looking for?  We are looking for a way out of sin, out of unbelief, out of separation.  And Jesus’ answer to the disciples is his answer to us this day: Come and see.  Follow me and see how to live.  Follow me and be set free.  His is a fresh and a vital call to discipleship

that is simple and inviting: Come and see.  And like Isaiah’s exiles who had to come home to see what God might yet do, how God might yet continue to call them to be light to the nations, so we too are called to come home to God to learn how God might yet call us as a parish as a people called Christians to be light to the nations.

Remember, John named Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  Not the sin of the individual; not the sin of the ones who follow; but the sin of the world.  The reality of God in Jesus outruns any constrictions we might want to put on either one of them.  This is the season of Epiphany the season of light.  What are we looking for? Jesus, that is what and finally, who we are looking for.  Amen.

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