January 15, 2017 sermon
Come and See
Do you ever notice how much noise there is in our world? We are surrounded by so many different sounds; cars passing by, refrigerator or heater humming, music, children playing. Even in silence, I can hear my breath. It seems impossible to experience total silence in the strictest sense. But we not only suffer from noises we hear in our world but also suffer the noises inside our head. There is a voice inside our head that never stops talking to us. Those of you who have experienced noise inside your head will know that inside noise is not better than outside noise. We know that when we are in a noisy environment, it is difficult to hear what others are saying; but also sometimes we are with someone and they talk to us, but we cannot hear what they are saying because our head is full of distracting thoughts. Then they ask you something like, “isn’t that crazy” and we mumble, “Um, yes”. It happens to everyone; admit it. When we are having a conversation with someone, either outside or inside noise makes it difficult to hear others. To be able to hear each other properly, we need to get rid of the noise (either inside or outside) and pay attention.
It is the same in our relationship with God. At least in our relationship with each other, we can hear when someone speaks; and still sometimes cannot hear what they are saying. Think of how much more challenging it is to hear God. God has always been talking to us and sending us signals; that is how different people from different cultures have sensed the presence of some kind of deity from the ancient times. One of my theology professors calls it God’s heartbeat, and he used to tap his foot making the heartbeat sound. But if we are preoccupied with mundane things, it is difficult to sense spiritual things. In Isaiah chapter 49 that we read today, the prophet says, “Listen and pay attention”. Prophets became prophets because they paid attention to God’s voice. They had a sense of vocation because they were attentive enough to hear God when they were spoken to. They even realized that their relationship with God started before they were born! They know they were chosen by God because they paid attention. Now let’s take a look at how the author of John’s gospel records the first followers of Jesus.
First there was John the Baptist who had a sense of calling to prepare for the messiah. He preached the coming of God’s reign and offered the baptism of repentance so when Jesus comes out and starts his public ministry, people would be ready to follow him and receive God’s kingdom. In today’s scene, when John sees Jesus and proclaims that he is the One, two of John’s disciples follow Jesus. From Jesus’ question “what are you looking for”, we know that they had been seeking God’s voice; they had thirst for spiritual things. Those who pay attention and listen for God’s revelation in their lives wish to meet and stay with God. The first two followers of Jesus wanted to stay with Jesus. To those who are seeking God and things that belong to the spiritual realm hear God’s invitation, “come and see”. This sentence “Come and see” represents the challenge of faith for everyone who are seeking something more meaningful and everlasting than what we experience in the mortal world. The beginning of our discipleship has two dimensions; there is the call from God, and then there is our pursuit of the Divine and the spiritual attentiveness that allows us to listen to that call and follow it.
One of the two disciples who followed Jesus in today’s text is Andrew, Peter’s brother. He had been seeking God, and that is why he had followed John. Now that his teacher John led him to Jesus and he has the conviction that Jesus is the One from God he has been seeking, he not only follows him but also calls his brother who also had been seeking the Divine. According to the Gospel of John, this is how the two brothers become disciples of Jesus.
As in the ancient times, God’s heartbeat of calling us and our pursuit for the Divine continue. Those of us who are preoccupied by secular things like job, money, power, and fun will have difficulty listening to God’s heartbeat. They will not seek spiritual things because they seek happiness and meanings of life in secular things. But we belong to the Christian Church, the faith community because we heard God’s heartbeat and sought the meaning of life in spiritual things. As the first disciples of Jesus, we hear Jesus’ call to “come and see”. Following this call requires spiritual attentiveness to be able to hear God’s voice, and also our thirst and desire to seek the Divine.
We are in the season of Epiphany. We wait, look and listen for God’s revelation in Baby Jesus and in our life. During this season of God’s revelation, let us listen to the divine call to “come and see”, and accept the challenge of faith by actively seeking the Divine voice. We cannot maintain any relationship if we do not spend time together and listen to each other. Let us start anew our relationship with God by being spiritually attentive and actively following God’s heartbeat. This heartbeat will lead us to rise to the challenge of loving God and our neighbours, and acts of compassion and justice in our society. This voice of God will lead us to be selfless and to a righteous anger when we see injustice and the suffering of our neighbours. Let us listen for this divine heartbeat attentively, and have the courage to get up and live according to the divine guidance. Wanna experience the Divine? Wanna find the meaning of life in the spiritual realm? Then rise to the challenge of Jesus’ call; come and see.
Rev. Sunny Kim