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Thank God for AndrewJohn 1:35-42
Isaiah 49:1-7
1 Corinthians 1:1-9

Last week, we met Jesus at his baptism in the Jordan. John baptized Jesus in the sacred river and we are told the Spirit came like a dove with the blessing. “This is my Beloved in whom I delight”. Matthew was saying that in Jesus, God is making a new creation.

Today we read the gospel of John. John the Baptizer calls Jesus “Lamb of God”; a symbol odd to us, but that would resonate with those familiar with Hebrew scripture; Jesus like the lamb on the night of the passover in Egypt, was the one who saved those in captivity; who brought freedom. So Jesus, for John, is the mark of a new exodus; one of the most foundational stories of Jewish faith. Huge claims from these two gospel writers. Claims meant to call others to follow.

Some, who would later become disciples, probably met Jesus for the first time out in the wilderness along the Jordan, where a community of those who were seeking a new way were gathering. They had found a leader in John, who was preaching radical change. Two of his followers are with John and when John sees Jesus, John says “Look here is the lamb of God”, and the two disciples follow him. It almost feels as if it were a secret code exchange. When they ask Jesus what he is all about, he invites them to come to where he is staying; to come and see for themselves. come and experience. That is how you will know. And so they come and spend the whole day with him. Called to be disciples. in such a simple way…over a cup of tea, or a beer, come and see; Yet it was a life-changing experience.

Now it could have all stopped right there, with two people having a spiritually powerful encounter with Jesus. They could have gone on their way and kept the experience to themselves. But thank God for Andrew, one of the two disciples who not only had the experience of meeting Jesus, but went to get his brother Simon and invited Simon to meet Jesus. If Andrew had never shared his experience and his faith and invited his brother, then perhaps Simon (renamed Peter by Jesus) would not have become the “rock” and the important leader of the church.

I recently read an article by Michael Coyner, a bishop in the United Methodist Church in Indiana. He suggests that Andrew provides for us a continuing model of faith-sharing and evangelism. A word we are not often very comfortable with in the liberal United Church. Most of us are embarassed by the kind of evangelism we have seen on the TV screens; or the groups who come to our doors to try to convince us to be saved. Yet we in the United Church are far more in danger of low spiritual self-esteem that we are in danger of spiritual chauvinism.

A few years ago we had a Festival of Faith for the West Island United Churches called Daring to Be United, where we celebrated our church, and the work and ministry we shared. I know there were people in this church who met folks that went to other United Churches that they had known for years, but because one doesn’t discuss religion or faith in polite company, they had no idea. It seems to me that the pendulum has gone rather too far in the opposite direction.

The United Church is good news I believe to people in this province. Our concern for social justice, our willingness to take stands that are not always popular, our concern for linking faith and life is good news. Our questioning theology, our commitment to encounter people on spiritual journey is good news. Our radical inclusiveness of all ages, our welcome to those have been divorced, or are gay and lesbian is good news. Our searching for new ways to understand and meet Jesus, our healing ministry through Healing Pathways and Pastoral care are good news. So why would we want to keep this under a bushel and never tell people about it? What would have happened if Andrew had never told his brother what he had experienced and invited him to meet Jesus?

Let’s look at Andrew and see what we can learn from him:

1. First Andrew has his own experience with Jesus. He spends time with him in deep encounter. All faith sharing begins in our own personal spiritual journey. We need to tend to our own spiritual path.

2. Once Andrew had spent some time with Jesus, Andrew wanted to share this experience with his brother Simon. We are invited to share our faith with our own networks, not with strangers. While some have the gift of reaching out to strangers, most of us are asked to focus upon our network of family, friends, and acquaintances we already know and love.

3. Andrew shared with Simon in “I messages” not in “you messages.” Rather than saying to Simon, “You need to know Jesus” or “You need to get saved” as so many evangelists do on television, or even “Your life is a mess” (all of which might have been true), Andrew shared his personal experience, “I have found Christ. Come and see what I have found”. He didn’t try to force his experience on others.

4. Andrew took Simon to meet Jesus and left the results up to Jesus. In fact that encounter with Jesus was life-changing for Simon (as represented by Jesus giving him a new name), but Andrew did not try to convert Simon on his own, Andrew trusted Jesus for those results. The results are always left in God’s hands. We are called to make the connection, to invite, to share our own journey, and to leave the results to God. This saves us from pride or manipulation, and it allows us to be bearers of the good news in a way that is not offensive but powerfully personal.

Andrew is a good model for all of us, because he is an “ordinary” disciple. Andrew is one of the twelve disciples, but he is not a part of the inner circle of Peter, James, and John with whom Jesus often confides. We see Andrew at two other important times in the gospel of John. In chapter 6, Jesus is asking the disciples to feed a large crowd and the other disciples are saying “Send them away. There are too many.” It is Andrew who finds the child willing to share his small lunch, and out of that opportunity Jesus feeds the crowd. He is someone who thinks outside the box. He sees the power of the gift of a child. Later in chapter 12, when foreigners want to see Jesus, Philip brings them to Andrew because presumably it is Andrew who is willing to overcome barriers and to welcome them into the community with Jesus. He’s a welcoming inclusive person, a person who want to include outsiders in the community. Andrew is just an “ordinary” disciple, but he provides a good model for us.

I know people in this congregation who are very good at sharing their faith with others. They do is simply, but talking about a project that the church is doing like Free the Children, or Grandmothers to Grandmothers. They talk about the joy they experience in our music programme and how uplifting it has been for them, They share the peace and healing they have received through our healing pathways ministry, of the programme they have found for their children in a church that cares about kids. They talk about a place that is spiritually alive, where people care for one another, and learn from one another. Makes me wonder, could we say to people who might be curious and want to know what it was like to be a follower of Christ in our own time? Would we feel comfortable saying “Come and see”; come and experience; come and grow with us?

The Spirit continues to bring people to life-changing encounters with Jesus. When we meet the Christ, we can expect our viewpoint and our direction in life to change.

Isaiah 49:1-7
Isaiah, writing six centuries before Jesus lived, writes of the servant of God for the times in which he lived. In all, there are four servant songs, which are a particular call to the nation in exile to remember who they were, and whose they were, and what God called them to be. Today we read the second.

John 1:36-42
Our gospel from John speaks of Jesus’ baptism from John’s perspective. It also includes his version of the stories of the new community that builds around Jesus. As people wanted to know more about him Jesus uses the simple invitation “Come and see”. Come and experience and you will know.

1 Corinthians 1:1-9
Paul reminds the early church at Corinth that they have been called to a ministry in their community. He reminds them that when we join the community of disciples, we can expect life-giving change.

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