Come and see. In the gospel of John these are words of personal invitation to step into a new life, a life with Jesus. They are unexpected by the recipient, Nathaniel. Because he does not yet believe that Jesus is a rabbi worth following. But Jesus promises that he is inviting them into a world in which the heavens are opened up, the veil between heaven and earth is pulled back, the distance between them and God is removed. God’s world is being revealed in the flesh of Jesus, if they will come and see.
Come and see. When have you heard these words or uttered them yourself? They are spoken with some anticipation. Come and see the baby. Come and see the new house. Come and see the puppy. Come and see the flower garden project I completed. Or a plea for companionship. Come and see me when you get a chance. I am invited to come and see people in their homes quite often. It is a way that we give people access to our lives. No? Think of a time that you were invited to come and see or a time you invited others. What was the meaning of the invitation? With these words we let people into some part of our lives that has meaning for us.
At Peter’s Porch, I go with a mission every month. I pray about it. I pray that God would make me open to see someone who needs to be seen and give me the courage to step into their world. Show me a person or family that needs connection. I look for the one person. This month it was Angie. Angie is 27, engaged, with four kids. She lives in Ephrata. She actually knows to people in this church. She was going to LCBC, but they lack transportation. She wants to become more than a consumer of feel-good religion. She wants to contribute to other people. She has empathy, the power to step into another person’s world, look around with them, and stay with them even if it’s dark in there. I like these people. She’s also starting over. She was recently released from Lanc. Co. prison. And I think she has the potential to become a person with faith, whose story may change lives, positively influence others, and serve God’s will. But, baby steps. I invited her to dinner church. Actually I called her. I told her that I prayed for guidance in my conversations and that God led me to her and her mom. She confirmed it by saying that she was recently told by another minister that she would get connected to a place where she could help others. So, I invited her to come and see. I told her about us. She said yes. Gave me her number. Now, I was no pick up artist. I basically got lucky once and she married me and she’s still married to me. I’m no charmer. I’m open and willing to speak the words; come and see. I used those actual words. And she said yes. She needs a way to get here tonight, but she intends to come and see what we are doing here. I hope some of you will come and see, too. So that Angie can experience a community of believers, seeking Jesus together.
Actually I invite folks to come and see what we’re doing a lot. Not because I think we are doing special things, per se. People ask me if this is a big church. It’s there way of saying, “Could anything good happen at little Zion on Main Street in Akron?” The assumption is always "bigger is better". I tell them we do big things. It’s not flashy entertainment here. It’s real. And personal. And Jesus is the one who invites us in. When we gather in community here, our intention is to show the love of Christ. Disciples are people who are willing to give others access to their lives, their hearts, their minds, so that others might experience Jesus in them. Because nothing matters more to me than what Jesus has done for me, for us, for the world. My hope in the future of this world is in Jesus, in the gospel. Disciples are people who have experienced the grace, love, and peace of Jesus and are called to share it. When people come and see, do they see Jesus in us? I hope they do. Every time. Amen.
Post-script. Angie did come to dinner church with her four children. I picked them up in my minivan. We ate together and talked about their life situation. We prayed together. We shared the Lord's supper. I took them home. She has a written journal that she would like to share sometime, a sort of testimony of how God's grace has saved her. I hope she can do that with us soon. When we invite people into our lives, it is often our own eyes and hearts and minds that are opened.