01 April 2009

Lent 6 B - To See Jesus

by Stuart Pike

St. Luke’s Church

28 March 2009

“Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” This is the request of two Greeks who have entered the City of Jerusalem for the holy feast. These are foreigners. And being Greeks, they represent the great philosophers, the questioners, the seekers after truth. Their search for truth has brought them to this great feast in Jerusalem, and their experience there has brought them to this request: “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”

Is that what you wish? Is that what the people around us wish? On first glance, it doesn’t appear to be so. People seem to be mostly engaged in other things. Today people seem to be mostly wishing for security. The economy is probably part of the problem. People everywhere seem to be worried. People are living scattered lives. We just want to do what we can to survive this mess.

And yet, when we think about it, we realize that people seemed to be just as preoccupied and scattered when the economy was going full tilt.  People were still searching for more. Surely there has got to be more to life hasn’t there?

Our book study has just completed Marcus Borg’s book, the Heart of Christianity and in an early chapter he describes how humans throughout the ages have recognized a lack in their lives. There’s got to be a “more.” He describes this lack as living East of Eden – in other words, we no longer live in the garden, and we are missing it.  Human beings know that something is wrong.

And it seems that it has always been so. We want more, we feel the lack and we try to do all sorts of things to fill our lack. None of it works.

Could this be why we have these Greeks in today’s Gospel lesson? I think so. They’re seeking for more. They’ve been searching all of their lives, just like we do. And their search has brought them to this time and place. Who knows what world of ideas they have struggled through to get this far? Now they are at a kind of culmination of their efforts. And here they are, wishing to see Jesus.

Is that what we wish? Even though it might not appear so, yes, I think at the deepest level of our being, it is exactly what we most wish. But most of us don’t live very deeply these days. We are too concerned with all the surface stuff to pay attention to anything deep. Even though we know that something is wrong, we are too distracted by our material world to know what to do. This is the way most people live their lives. And because we’re so distracted we can’t pay attention to one other either. We become isolated from each other.

There might be one upside about a poor economy, and that is it’s bringing people together. It is making some people realize that having all the material goods isn’t really the most important thing. It is making more and more people share, and it is bringing people back to humanity. In our search for more meaning in our lives it is bringing us to ask to see Jesus again.

God bless Philip and Andrew! They’re not the superstars of the disciples. They don’t get the limelight like Peter and James and John do. They work quietly behind the scenes, bringing people to Jesus. Andrew is the very first missionary in bringing his brother Peter to see Jesus. Later it is Andrew and Philip who bring a small boy to Jesus, who wants to share his meal with a hungry crowd. And now, here are Philip and Andrew bringing these Greeks to see Jesus. Philip and Andrew are Jesus’ welcoming committee.

We can learn a lot from Andrew and Philip. Today people are so in need of seeing Jesus. They might not know it yet, but they are desperately in need of seeing Jesus. The answer to their need is you. Each member of our Church needs to be part of the welcome here at St. Luke’s.

At parish council this week, we spent a considerable amount of time talking about the effort which some Churches put into welcoming newcomers into their midst. They’ve got people who first shake a hand, people who will escort newcomers to find what they need, people to take down their names and contact information and people to explain what their church is all about. We realized in our discussion this week, that we can do a lot more to be more welcoming here.

Yes, It will mean looking again at our methods of welcoming others. Yes, it will mean getting our job descriptions right. Yes, it will mean being tolerant of people who might not know the way we do things. Yes, it will mean being glad to hear the noise of kids in Church, because that means that we are a Church that is alive!

But mostly what it will mean is everyone who is now a member of St. Luke’s needs to extend a hand of friendship to those around them. Every one of you needs to be part of the welcome, just like Andrew and Philip were. It’s not someone else’s job, it your job. You need to be able to tell newcomers why you like your church and why they should join us. And the reason why we need to do this isn’t because we need to grow our membership. It’s not about our need: it’s about the newcomer’s need to see Jesus, and Jesus commands us to bring others to see him.

And, it’s about bringing isolated people together into a true community that can give meaning to their lives.

What might have been surprising to these Greeks is the message Jesus gives them. He tells them that the road to life is through dying. The way to gain everything, is to let go of the distraction of the material world. It doesn’t make much sense in a materialistic world.

But, I’m thinking that these Greeks probably understood. They had searched all their lives until this point. This was a new path – one which spoke of something more. This way has depth.

We know, in our hearts, that the answer to our deepest need has to do with something far greater than this material world. This is the “more” we seek. Let us be part of Jesus’ way of self-giving, and let us remember that what we most wish in this life is to see Jesus. Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment