The Second Sunday after the Epiphany – January 18, 2015
Beloved, you are created by God:
“Lord, you have searched me out and known me,” says Psalm 139. “You yourself created my inmost parts. You knit me together in my mother’s womb.”
You are created by God, and that is not all. You are also inhabited by God. For all else that Paul says in his letter to the church at Corinth, to a people who have become forgetful, to a people who have lost their way, who have come to believe that they can separate their lives of faith from their lives of action…for all else that is there, Paul also asks this question: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit? Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you?” he asks.
You are created by God, you are inhabited by God, and that is not all. Because you are also called by God. It has been a long time, in the reading from the first book of Samuel. It has been a long time since the people anticipated, since they expected God’s action in the world. It has been a long time since that burning bush, since that pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. The text says that the word of the Lord was rare in those days, and visions were not widespread. God’s word was so rare, in fact, that God called, but it took Eli (a priest of the temple) three times before he figured out how to help his young protégé, Samuel. “Say this,” he tells Samuel, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” Thankfully, God is faithful, and persistent. God calls again, and Samuel responds.
And it may seem these days that the word of the Lord is rare. It may seem that visions are not widespread. And I say to you, listen. I say to you that you are called by God.
Beloved, you are created by God and inhabited by God and called by God, and that is not all…because you are also invited as a participant together with God and with those others who will follow. “We have found him,” Philip tells his friend Nathanael in today’s gospel passage. “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the law, the one the prophets foretold. We found him.” And when Nathanael protests (“Is there anything good that can come from Nazareth?”) Philip responds, “Come and see.” No defensiveness, no umbrage, no grand argument, no theological justification of right and wrong, no formulaic proof…instead of all that, an invitation. A widening of the circle. “Come with me. Be part of this, with me. See who this is, and join us.”
And that, Beloved, is all…or at least it is the beginning of all. Because you are created by God, inhabited by God, called by God, invited to participate together with God and to find and invite others…to widen the circle of those who seek the kingdom…and in so seeking, to join God as co-creators of that kingdom, helping with our created and inhabited hands and hearts and voices to bring it into being.
Tomorrow we celebrate the feast of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Yesterday, I saw (from the second row, because I was late getting there and the theater was full) I watched the movie Selma. And as I saw the explosion in a church that would end the lives of little girls who were talking about their baptism, I heard the words of today’s psalm: “Lord, you have searched me out and known me…you yourself created my inmost parts, you knit me together inside my mother’s womb.”
As I watched sheriffs’ deputies wrap baseball bats in barbed wire in order to inflict the greatest possible harm on the bodies they would attack, I heard Paul’s words to that forgetful church in Corinth: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you?” Do you not know that their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit as well?
As I watched Dr. King kneel at the bridge in Selma, with a legion of state troopers and sheriffs’ deputies and Klansmen before him and thousands of people behind him, as I watched him kneel to pray and then rise and turn back with all those people to return the way that they had come, I heard Samuel respond at a time when the word of the Lord was rare, with the words that Eli had given him: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”
And at last, at last, as I watched footage of the actual march, the march joined by clergy from this diocese whom I have had the privilege to meet, together with people of every background from all over this country, the march that finally culminated on the steps of the capitol building in Alabama in spite of everything that the sheriff and his deputies and their governor and so many others had done to stop it, as Dr. King ended his speech to those thousands of followers who had risked all they had to join him, saying “Mine eyes have seen the glory,” I heard Philip, again, to Nathanael: “Come and see.” Come and see the glory of the Lord.
Like you, Dr. King was created by God an inhabited by God and called by God and invited by God as a participant in the Kingdom. And, like Philip to Nathanael, he beckons us with his witness to “come and see.” So come and see, beloved of God. Come and see the kingdom that God invites us to help prepare, with our hands and our hearts and our voices. Come and see, and widen the circle by inviting others who would join us.
Come and see justice roll down like water. Come and see people judged, not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. Come and see little black boys and black girls join hands with little white boys and white girls. Come and see every valley exalted and every hill and mountain made low. Come and see light drive out darkness, and love drive out hatred. Come and see that dream made manifest.
Beloved of God, together with Dr. King, together with Philip and Nathanael and all those who would serve as witness, you are divinely created and inhabited and called and invited to participate as co-creators of the Kingdom of God. So come and see. And invite the others who would widen this circle.
Come and see the glory of the Lord, revealed.