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Newaygo United Methodist Church
Thursday, November 23, 2017
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors

Here is the Lamb of God

Here Is the Lamb of God
 
John 1:29-42
 
 
I wonder if anyone would be able to describe Jello to me if I had never experienced it before. Does anyone want to try? We can use many descriptors to try to give me the experience of Jello without actually trying it. Perhaps someone could describe its texture, using adjectives like rubbery, squishy, slithery, sliding, etc. Someone could certainly describe its flavor based on what kind of jello it was. But if I had never had any such example of any of those things in my mouth, I would still be left a little puzzled about what it was. The only way for me to get the full experience of Jello would be to sample some, to actually eat a little. Only then would I appreciate fully what it was. 
 
Turning to our faith, I wonder how we would describe Jesus to someone who had never experienced him before. How do we describe an active entity in our lives, one who had significant impact on the way we act and think. We could talk about how Jesus moves us to give us a sense of security and assurance. We could describe and read the things that Jesus did when he walked the earth, and talk about how some of those things are still done in his name. We could talk about the joy that comes from faith experiences and about how we might experience those moments of awe that remind us that we are a people of faith. We could talk about Jesus great act of saving grace in his willingness to die on a cross so we could come to know God, to feel forgiven and worthy of standing before God on firm footing. We could talk about the body of Christ and the great things it accomplishes in caring for others and pointing the way to faith. Again we are using descriptors to help others understand what it is we know about Jesus and about our faith. But again, the best way of knowing Jesus is to experience Jesus as a reality of life. We cannot know Jesus just by someone describing him even using the best of the language of faith. In order for someone to know Jesus, they have to experience him for themselves. 
 
That’s exactly what happened when Jesus invited the new disciples to come and see where he was staying. That was not only an invitation to a physical place to see where he was staying, but an invitation to come to know Jesus personally, to experience him first hand, to learn what he was teaching and saying about God, what he cared about with humans, how much he loved those around him. To get to know Jesus, those new disciples had to spend some time with him and experience for themselves what he was all about. They had just come from following another man, John. Now they believed that this Jesus was the Messiah, the Lamb of God. They were invited by Jesus into a deeper relationship, one that would reveal God’s nature to them in a very unique way. And they accepted the invitation. They would come to know Jesus physically, the man who walked with them in the physical space around them as well as the spiritual side of Jesus, the one who knew God intimately and completely, the one who could convey to them God’s will and God’s way and God’s love. And when all was completed, when Jesus finished his mission on earth, they would also know him as the resurrected one, the one who defeated death, and made known the possibility for eternal life lived with God. These very disciples would proclaim Jesus’ identity and mission. They would try to explain Jesus to those who did not experience Jesus first hand. The best they could do, however, was to invite others into relationship with Jesus, the living Jesus. They would extend Jesus’ invitation to come and see and Jesus would do the rest. Jesus would allow them to experience him first hand through his very spirit as they proclaimed and accepted him on faith. They would experience Jesus in some deeper way, some very real experience of him that helped them to come to belief. This “mystery” of faith has been happening for more than 2000 years. 
 
The invitation to “come and see” is our invitation as well. Whether we learn Jesus over a long period of time or come to an unexpected and sudden revelation of Jesus, it is done by invitation. Jesus invites us to partake of his reality, of his presence in our lives, not just once, but over and over as we grow into our faith, as we become mature in our knowledge of and belief in Jesus, who he is and what he has done and is doing now. 
 
Sometimes we lose that faith a little or possibly a lot. But the invitation still stands. Jesus invites us back into relationship with him and when we accept or reaccept that invitation we are set on course toward greater, more profound faith that brings peace, assurance and solidity to our lives, faith that fulfills our deepest needs and longings. 
 
I have been thinking a lot about this winter. Snow seems to be the order of this year. Just when we think we have things cleared, the white stuff begins again and slowly, or maybe a little faster, covers our hard work and we are faced with the chance of falling or slow going as we make our way out of our houses into the world. Faith is a little like that. We seem to have a clear path for a while. Then life’s problems and events begin to cover the clear path, befuddling us, making the way less clear. It gets harder to tromp through life as life piles up on us. And then the invitation comes to go out and sweep or shovel the snow out of the way and clear the path once again. Sometimes we get an extra little “bump” of energy or understanding to help us clear the white stuff out of our lives. 
 
Joe and I have been pondering each time we come or go in our car whether we will get out of the drive behind the house. We did get stuck once and each time feared it would happen again especially as the snow kept piling up. And yesterday the angel came along, Al and his friend with a snow plow on his truck appeared just when we were trying to leave for the day. One or two swipes at it and they had the path cleared and we could be on our way, rejoicing at the ease with which we were able to get out to the parking lot. 
 
Sometimes we get the miracle, the little bump we need to get back on course with our faith. Sometimes we need to work at it a little. But always, always the invitation to “come and see” is there, no matter how snow covered or impassible our lives seem to be. When we spend a little time with Jesus, we are spending time that really matters, time that refreshes our souls, time that engages us most fully in life, time that translates into eternity. 
 
The most important events of our lives are those that lead us to relationship with our Creator. That what we were created for. That is the one thing that makes us truly happy. That is what Jesus is inviting us to. Isn’t it time we accepted the invitation? We cannot experience the party unless we accept the invitation! Here, now, in this moment is a good time to begin. Jesus is saying, “Come, follow me.” 

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