Readings: 1 Samuel 3:1-10 and John 1:43-51
By Rev. Marguerite Sheehan
Last week I made an error in my message to you. I wrongly said that the season of Epiphany had past. In fact, we are still in that church season until we enter Lent.
Epiphany Sunday — when we remembered the Wise Ones finding the baby Jesus, giving their precious gifts, and, in a dream, being warned to go home by a different way — that day has passed for another year, but what happened to the Wise Ones happened to us, too. Whether we are wise or foolish today and every day we are still being invited to go home by a different road. The season of Epiphany continues because who Jesus is, and who we are, and how we are called to follow him on his Way of Peace and Justice, continues to be revealed.
In our time and place, January 2021, we are looking long and hard at what road our country is on especially since Jan. 6, when our Capitol was assaulted and the people inside were terrified and some were killed. We are looking long and hard at how we, our country, and our churches have stayed and strayed from the Jesus Way.
On this Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend we are listening to the timeless dream of the Beloved Community and where this Beloved Community is going. This looking and listening is personal – each of us is being spoken to. And it is communal, which is why we are gathering this morning. It is about us.
We heard this morning how our friend and neighbor Sarah Pirtle heard a call to keep the flame alive and how she put that call into a song of hope and what she calls “everyday bravery.”
We heard singers and preachers of all ages, colors and nationalities speak afresh the dream of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In their singing and preaching, the Jesus Way broke open again. Was your heart stirred and broken? Were you troubled and consoled?
We heard in our spoken and silent prayers gratitude for hearing the Word and seeing our divided and hurting country in ways that some of us profess to have not known, but now we do.
We heard in our scripture today that Christ, who is still on the Road to Freedom, is calling people of all ages to listen and watch God at work in a broken world.
At the center of all we have seen and heard and felt is a deep truth, one that if we are paying attention can keep us awake at night and strengthen us to go the longest mile. The truth is that we might choose not to listen.
We might choose not to follow. We might choose to hide out, covered in our fears and unwillingness. But whether we turn to follow Christ or not (did you notice in our reading today that it is not exactly clear if Nathanael dropped all his hesitation and followed Jesus?), no matter what we do, God continues to search and know us. God is well acquainted with our human ways and will not stop searching our path to greet us in love and accountability. No wonder many of us are having trouble sleeping, watching “the heavens open and God’s angels going up to heaven and down to earth on the Human One.”
I am going to end my message this morning with the psalm that was suggested for us today, because in this epiphany — that God is searching us and knows us — I find the dream and hope and courage to keep seeking a better day, keep seeking to be my, and our, better angels. In this song I hear an echo about who we are; ones known and held in the Lord.
From Psalm 139
O LORD, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
O LORD, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain it.
For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written all the days
that were formed for me,
when none of them as yet existed.
How weighty to me are your thoughts,
O God! How vast is the sum of them!
I try to count them — they are more than the sand;
I come to the end — I am still with you.