Date: 30 Dec 1999
Time: 18:48:19

Comment

I find it interesting that from Christ's perspective, it is He that found Philip (1:43). From Philip's perspective, it was he who found Christ (1:45).

MRA


Date: 04 Jan 2000
Time: 17:15:06

Comment

MAybe last weeks text should come before this one! This is exacltly what Jesus said they would see - the Spirit of God (Holy Spirit) descending on Him!

It is marvelous to me that Jesus knows us so well before we ever come to know Him. He knows our sins, faults, shortcoming, weaknesses and all the rest - but still He loves us enought to sacrifice Himself for us!


Date: 06 Jan 2000
Time: 11:52:24

Comment

What is it that Jesus likes about Nathanael? That he is a bigot but not afraid to give voice to his prejudices? This makes a good text for Martin Luther King Sunday.

Can God find us attractive by virtue of a virtue that most people would find repugnant, say honesty? Does it not say that God found David a person of good heart, even though at the time he was little more than a mercenary soldier of fortune?

Maybe God finds some good in every person. But if that is the case, why did he rebuke the Pharisees when they voiced their thoughts? What is the difference? Just some early thoughts. I believe there is a powerful message about openness and prejudice here. Help me find it.

Boyd in NC


Date: 06 Jan 2000
Time: 16:53:57

Comment

It is amazing/refreshing/encouraging to me how easily Nathanael believes in Jesus. We're not told whether Jesus seeing him under the fig tree was the result of a divine vision, or simply of Jesus passing by earlier. Either way, Nathanael is impressed enough to believe.

What makes us believe? Is it miracle? Is it Presence? Or is it with us, as it may have been with Nathanael, enough to simply be known by God? There is power in a relationship that is willing to know the other as deeply as Jesus seems to know Nathanael, especially in an age when there are so many reasons and means for us avoid it.

Brad in Bama


Date: 09 Jan 2000
Time: 02:49:14

Comment

A note from one of my sources says that it was common for women to leave their children under a fig tree when the went to work in the fields, so "I saw you under a fig tree" was a euphemism for, "I have known you since you were a baby." It might be a reflection on the call of Jeremiah (Jer. 1:4-7).

The reference that Jesus makes to Nathaniel as "an Israelite in whom there is no guile," I believe is meant to be tongue-in-cheek. Certainly there is plenty of guile in Nathaniel! We always seem to think of Jesus as so serious, but he says of himself that his ministry is more like a party! Jesus could give and take very well - remember the story of the Woman at the Well in John's Gospel? Jesus is giving Nathaniel "the business," catching him in what he thought was a private remark to Philip! The depth of knowledge Jesus has about him obviously leaves a strong impression!

Lots of good places to start on this one!

Gary in New Bern


Date: 10 Jan 2000
Time: 03:35:50

Comment

Sermon title: "One More Person Sees the Light" for Epiphany. Clare in Iowa


Date: 10 Jan 2000
Time: 03:55:56

Comment

Adam Clarke's commentary points out that it is THE fig tree: one particularly distinguished from others. Apparently Jewish rabbis preferred the shade of fig trees to do their studying. I think Jesus was "piercing the joints and marrow" of Nathanael's soul. In this one pointed remark, Jesus was giving Nathanael his epiphany. Clare in Iowa


Date: 10 Jan 2000
Time: 04:03:48

Comment

Is anyone else struggling with the 1 Corinthians reading? Why did the lectionary people choose this one? It makes the service feel schizophrenic! I think I will change the epistle reading to 2 Corinthians 5:11-21: Knowing Jesus from the divine point of view, and receiving the ministry of reconciliation. Clare in Iowa


Date: 10 Jan 2000
Time: 12:15:16

Comment

Clare in Iowa, That is exactly the problem I am having with this weeks lectionary selections. It remains a struggle to draw 1 Corinthians reading in line with 1 Samuel and John readings this week.

I noticed there were no comments under the 1 Corinthians section as of 7:00 AM 10JAN00.

The search goes on. LAR


Date: 10 Jan 2000
Time: 16:37:10

Comment

To Clare and Lar - Perhaps the connection between the lessons could be this: OT Lesson - waiting to hear and see ("The Word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread"). Gospel Lesson - Nathaniel discovers the issue is not merely to see, but to be seen. Jesus looks at Nathaniel with eyes of love that win him over. Nature of that love describe in... Epistle (2nd Lesson)- That love claims us - our whole being. Being claimed by God who is love, allows us to be gifts of love to others. Realizing this is the beginning of our joy and healing. The one who calls us knows us. The one who calls us sees us - sees into us and calls us to new life.

Peace in Christ - Yarnspinner in VA


Date: 10 Jan 2000
Time: 16:55:13

Comment

Connection between 1 Sam. & 1 Cor. Samuel belongs to God, Paul says we are not our own...we belong to God.

I like the phrase here - Where did you get to know me? Perhaps the most important thing is not necessarily knowing Jesus, but Jesus knowing who we are. Isn't it important for us to be known? That our lives mean something to someone else?

John near Pitts.


Date: 10 Jan 2000
Time: 21:03:01

Comment

In connection with Samuel, I'm focusing on the call. The call to do ministry not just those who we ordained to offices two weeks ago, not just the pastor but that we all are ministers. Do we hear God calling? What would convince us? Does God have to call our name? Does God have to see us in the pew?

You Called? or You Called!

Bruce in WI


Date: 10 Jan 2000
Time: 22:11:36

Comment

In this Epiphany Season, it is not only Jesus who is manifested, made known; it is also the revelation of those who come into contact with Jesus:

The wise men, open their treasure chests ... The Forerunner, reveals himself, the one coming after me is before me ... Nathaniel, you are the Son of God ...

It is not simply Jesus revealing, but our own unwrapping in his presence which makes this such a wonderful season.

tom in ga


Date: 11 Jan 2000
Time: 01:42:53

Comment

And what would you do if Jesus looked you in the eye and said "I know you. Your that kid who..." I think it would make your spine tingle just a bit. David in Fargo


Date: 11 Jan 2000
Time: 01:43:04

Comment

And what would you do if Jesus looked you in the eye and said "I know you. Your that kid who..." I think it would make your spine tingle just a bit. David in Fargo


Date: 11 Jan 2000
Time: 04:34:40

Comment

Regarding the connection between the epistle and the gospel: look at the psalter. God has known us intimately since the foundation of the earth. Of course Jesus will know Nathanael (and you and I) Our bodies, being creations of the Almighty One and sanctified by our baptism, are holy. If our bodies are holy temples then our neighbors' are also holy. When we do harm to our bodies or to another person we desecrate God's Temple. In light of ML King we are called to a radical new way of relationships. These bodies are not to be worshipped, they will eventually die. But they are made to be used as instruments of God's justice and peace. When we construct barriers to loving the least and the last (or the most and the first), we cut through the flesh of the living church. Too many people have low self-esteem. They do terrible things because they feel worthless- from self destruction (drugs, alcohol, meaningless sex, overworking, laziness, indulgence in meaningless pleasure, the list goes on and on...) to harming another (exploitation, gossip, name calling, murder, rape, stealing,...) They don't seem to know that they are so precious to God that Jesus died to give them a clean start. Every time we hurt what God loves we drive the nails a little deeper. People don't need our criticism, our indifference, our patronizing help...they need our love. And we need theirs. They need to be affirmed. Last week's lection told how God ripped open the heavens to strike the Holy Spirit into Jesus. When the Spirit fills us to love like Christ did, we too will be violently changed: drowned to our old life. Loving as our Lord loved us is oh so difficult and frightening, but what else can we do? In a world where people say 'Can anything good come out of...(the prisons, the ghettos, the political arena, the Middle East, the refugee camps, the mega-corporations.....) Nazareth? We know that God has put something wonderful there. We need to claim the gift of one another. We need to put our lives on the line in bringing the justice that loving requires. We can only do that by allowing the great power of the Holy Spirit to live in us and bubble up to new life. God calls the Samuels (can anything good come out of a teenager?), the Nathanaels, and you and me to boldly proclaim the worth of those people(and perhaps ourselves) seen as unworthy. Why? Because worthy is the Lamb who died that they (and I) might live. -Fisherfolk in OH


Date: 11 Jan 2000
Time: 05:06:00

Comment

Clare in Iowa, I am not preaching this week and so my mind is unpressured. This reading is difficult and seems out of place with the other lections. I was struggling to try to find the connection and was looking at a lectionary workbook that we use. In the front I found a epigraph of Thomas Merton -

"There is, in a word, nothing comfortable about the Bible - until we manage to get so use to it that we make it comfortable for ourselves. But then we are perhaps too used to it and too at home in it.

Let us not be too sure we know the Bible just because we have learned not to be astonished at it, just because we have learned not to have any problems with it.

Have we perhaps learned at the same time not to pay attention to it?

Have we ceased to question the book and be questioned by it?

Have we ceased to fight it?

Then perhaps our reading is no longer serious."

Back to my less lofty thoughts on the subject. Perhaps the lectionarians used this text to show the need for putting things in right focus in order to be a true disciple. Evidently the fire born Corinthian Christians were of the mind that they could live any kind of life and be followers of Christ. But Paul reminds them of who the are and that their bodies contain the very presence of God and should be treated respect and not prostituted in any way.

Two thoughts have been put forth that the fig tree that Jesus saw Nathaniel under refer to either Nathaniel as a child or studying the Torah. The first would connote the innocence of childhood and the later the desire to know God. Either way the connection can be made to Samuel, who in his youth wished to know God and to serve Him.

It seems to me that Paul is trying to put things right in Corinth where they have it backwards. They are lost in physical and spiritual sensuality and seek to find God in stuff and gifts avoiding the place where God really lives - within them. Samuel look outward, running to Eli until he recognized the Lord was with him, Nathaniel was cynical until Jesus revealed that He was with Nathaniel even under the fig tree.

The struggle that Merton speaks of is at the end of the Gospel lection, 1:51 And he said to him, "Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man." Jacob had this same vision and spent the night struggling with an angel to be given the name, Israel, one who struggles with God.

I hope this makes some sense. I know that my desire to stitch the lections together in an organic whole are sometimes a real stretch. I don't know what liberties that you have in your rite but we are required to use all of the readings in the liturgy. When the gospel can be proclaimed in the homily with the support of the other lections it seems to have a real galvanic effect.

Deke in Texas - Pace et Bene


Date: 11 Jan 2000
Time: 13:05:33

Comment

A number of thoughts are floating around in my head as I read this week's texts and the responses so far.

I don't see Nathaneal as a bigot, as someone has suggested. Or put another way, if Nathanael is a bigot, then aren't we all? Nathaneal was voicing what I see as healthy doubt. He has recognized the good in Jesus but wonders alound how good can come from Nazareth (or Biloxi, or Norfolk, or Yorktown, or anywhere here on this earth). Nathaneal a bigot? Only if all who've doubted are bigots. Methinks that we're attempting to read the Scriptures here through the lens of 21st century issue-focused eye-pieces and we miss the relevancy of what is written, the recognition of the coming of the messiah, the fulfillment of Old Testament writing. There is strong Christology here, not fodder for cultural agendas.

Someone else wrote about self-esteem or more specifically the lack thereof in people today. I would venture to say that there's plenty of self-esteem being handed out but most of it lacking the rootedness of an understanding that self-worth comes from the knowledge of knowing who we are in Christ, not who people think we ought to be absent Christ. The self-esteem movement in this country (USA) is a cottage industry. There are self-esteem workshops, counselors and seminars attempting to dole out that which only a relationship with Christ can give. So people leave these places feeling good about themselves and it lasts about as long as a beauty shop hair-do.

We must preach Christ, Christ crucified, Christ as the means to genuine and long-lasting self-esteem. And I believe, as Deke has pointed out, that there is much spirituality, much religious thought, much focus on feeling good out there but all of it missing the mark because it diminishes or even replaces our need for Christ.

What will preach this week? My focus would be:

"We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth."

Rick in Va


Date: 11 Jan 2000
Time: 13:21:56

Comment

I have been struck in recent weeks by the cost of discipleship. Mary, who said yes, though her own heart was pierced; Joseph raising a son not his own, giving up his planned life and hustling off to Egypt and back again; John losing his head over it all, MLK jr his life. Christianity may feel really good. Becoming a better person, in relationahip with the creator, forgiven. These things are great. Even tithing -- not so bad. But you go far enough down the road and there's no turning back. What awaits may be greater sacrifice than we anticipated. The fruits of these lives are known and cherished. But how many would choose to carry discipleship so very far? Put's that hymn -- Here I Am Lord -- in slightly different light....

HW in HI


Date: 11 Jan 2000
Time: 16:36:15

Comment

"To Know as We Are Known" (Palmer) involves the prevenient grace of God's seeing each of us under our "Fig Tree" as he saw not only Nathanael but Jonah. Our self-image/understanding/identity is connected with significant others' perception of us...the way we have been known by others for whom we deeply care!. In whose eyes do we look to see the mirrored reflection of our self? Being/becoming a disciple of Jesus, hearing a call of God to the ministries of the sacred covenant, does involve a costly grace that begins "preveniently", long before justifying grace and santifying grace. Nat's call to discipleship begins under a Fig Tree, or in the womb, at a time prior to knowing that he was being known. The Cost of Discipleship, in light of Bonhoeffer and MLKing,Jr, is certainly relevant to the epiphany scriptural context this week Jeremiah 1, the 139 Psalm and 1 Samuel 3 unveil the realization that God's hand is upon us, shaping us for the ministry of "opening up" the vision of God's dwelling place, heaven, to those who believe and live in the despair of thinking that the love of God is beyond their "world", their situation, their self. This discipleship vision leads to the closure of Romans 8. The spiritual task of reflecting upon the "pygmalion effect", or the "looking glass mirror", involving the origin of our self-image/identity is eternally connected with the realization that neither life nor death, etc., nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 1 Corinthians 13, especially "for now we see in a mirror dimly but then face to face" is relevant to God's seeing us beneath our Fig Tree, whether we are overlooking Nineveh in a fit of anger ("enough to die") or we are studying the Torah, Law, or Bible in Sunday School. We are not always called to be disciples because of the exempliary moral character we display on the mountain of hope but because, like Moses, Jonah, Saul/Paul, we have known what it means for anger, hate, and prejudice to get out of hand. Yet God saw us under our Fig Tree....and He saw us with an unconditional transforming love declaring we are of infinite, eternal, worth and dignity. PaideiaSCO in north ga mts.


Date: 11 Jan 2000
Time: 16:46:40

Comment

Here's another thought on Nathaniel's comment regarding Nazareth. The name Nazareth comes from Netzer, "a shoot." This is the Messianic shoot from the stump of Isaiah. Nazareth was a very small town, less than 150 people. Perhaps they saw themselves as the shoot from Isaiah, an exclusive group from which the Messiah would appear. Hence the scorn from Nathanial. Kind of like us talking about those weird fanatics at Waco or wherever.

Larry cny


Date: 11 Jan 2000
Time: 17:22:52

Comment

For those who have been wondering why the 2nd lesson this week is what it is, the answer is simple and has to do with the structure of the lectionary. Each year during the Epiphany season we read sequentially from I Corinthians. This being the "B" year, we are reading from the middle of I Corinthians. That means that whoever picked the lections did not necessarily intend that there be some connection between the 2nd lesson and the other lessons. On the other hand, that should not stop us from trying to discover and make such connections as the Spirit shows us. Mike in Maryland


Date: 11 Jan 2000
Time: 19:35:35

Comment

About the reference to the fig tree: Gerard Sloyan's commentary suggests that this may be a reference to Zechariah 3: 10 or Micah 4:4. In those passages, the Israelites are told that when the Branch of David appears, they will invite one another to sit under their figs trees (a metaphor for peace, I presume). Thus, this statement to Nat. is intended to reveal the identity of Christ as the long awaited Messiah. It is that theme that intrigues me. Why were Andrew, Peter, Phillip, Nathaneal, and others so willing to follow Christ on moments notice? Perhaps it has to do with expectation. They, along with all Israel, had waited for the Messiah to come for generation upon generation. So, when he appeared, some (not all) were ready to respond. They expected God to do something in their midst. 1 Samuel 3 creates an interesting contrast. Old Eli didn't seem to expect much at all. He had grown lazy and complacent and was just marking his days. So it took God three tries to break thru to Samuel, Eli's protege. Maybe our ability to respond to God's call is largely dependent on whether we really expect him to be active in our lives. Just a though. Chris in NC


Date: 11 Jan 2000
Time: 20:50:23

Comment

I wouldn't be too critical of Eli. He had tried to talk with his two sons, but they wouldn't listen. It was his wisdom that enabled him to know Yahweh was speaking to Samuel. He still had a use. It is true that some of us have lost our ability to act within our congregation, but wisdom stands for something. In order to understand the importance of all of us, I feel we need to see what usefulness Biblical characters, episodes and stories have as paradigms for our own lives.

Shalom

Pasthersyl


Date: 12 Jan 2000
Time: 03:44:32

Comment

I think a connecting point between the Corinthians passage and this one is the question, "what does discipleship mean/require of us?" Nathaniel was called to put aside his skepticism and make a faith statement; the Corinthian church was reminded that their lifestyle betrayed their witness. What does it mean to be a disciple of Christ in this day and age? His initial call is always the same, "Come and see!" But then we must leave wherever we are, and go where he is going (something we can't do if we remain where we are - either "under the fig tree" or in a lifestyle that is harmful). So the call requires two things of us: (1)come - follow him where he goes, where he is leading and (2)seeing - seeing the world as he sees it, seeing him as he really is (and not through our preconceptions), until at last (Transfiguration) we see "him alone."

Plenty of challenges in tis text!

Gary in New Bern


Date: 12 Jan 2000
Time: 03:59:38

Comment

Some more thoughts to follow up that marvelous initial comment from MRA at the top of this week's column: Who found whom??... In the Gospel lesson, Philip thinks that he'd found Jesus; but Jesus sees it in the opposite way, and says that it was He who'd actually found Philip.

This relates directly to the comment later in John's Gospel: "It is not you who chose me. No, I chose you." (15:16)

Not just the Gospel, but all 4 lections (including psalmody) are about being chosen this week. There's no doubt about it in that first lesson: Again and again God calls until finally young Samuel listens; but isn't it interesting that the ppointed lesson stops before the boy actually answers back to God. Young Sam does not choose God here, God chooses him and that's the end of it.

I Corinthians is a tough one, as Clare has noted. And yes, it's true that this is a continuous seasonal reading that was never intended to match with the other lessons (thanks Mike!); but still... I Corinthians 6 contains the ethical charge to live out the consequences of having been called by God. I am not my own. My body and my so-called property and my committed relationships are not my own but actually the property of Another, and I am just the caretaker, the steward. Not what I would have chosen... I'd be the boss if I could be. I'd choose to be the chooser, like Philip tried to do. I'd limit my social responsibilities and stay free and easy and independent if I had my druthers. But no, God calls me into community and responsibility for my neighbor, like it or not. (Cf. Dr. King's call to justice and his martyrdom.) I did not choose... God chose me.

The psalmody speaks for itself: I am fearfully and wonderfully made, knit together by God in my mother's womb, way, way before I could do a thing about it. I am who I am because of a wisdom that I cannot penetrate. I did not choose my own identity, my own family, my own mission & purpose in life... It was all chosen for me.

Where's the good news here? Is it good news that I'm powerless?? No, and that's not the way to go with these lessons in preaching. We all have more than enough of a sense of human powerlessness already. No reminder from the pulpit should be necessary; it would just beat people down even futher than they already are (Cf. Fisherfolk's comments on self-esteem).

Instead, the good news in Christ is that despite all appearances, I am called to a purpose that is bigger than I am. Larger than life. I am not meant to be alone, nor is my life going to be meaningless, because God in Christ has a plan for me even though I may not (and probably will not) understand it. The plan may be too wonderful for me to grasp, but this I can know: It does mean that I'm called into extending myself in all sorts of ways on behalf of others, to whom God is calling me in ministry. I am not my own; I am made for the cross and for resurrection. (Again, Dr. King.) "It is not you who chose me. No, I chose you." (John 15:16)

Al, Lexington KY


Date: 12 Jan 2000
Time: 20:06:08

Comment

It is my understanding that sitting under a fig tree was a Jewish metaphor meaning to live in right relationship with God and others. See, for example:

Zecheriah 3: 7-10

6 Then the angel of the LORD assured Joshua, saying 7 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my requirements, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here. 8 Now listen, Joshua, high priest, you and your colleagues who sit before you! For they are an omen of things to come: I am going to bring my servant the Branch. 9 For on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven facets, I will engrave its inscription, says the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the guilt of this land in a single day. 10 On that day, says the LORD of hosts, you shall invite each other to come under your vine and fig tree.”

Micah 4: 3 – 4

3He shall judge between many peoples, and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more; 4 but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken.

Nathaniel has admirable qualities from which we can all learn. I wish the world had more people “in whom there is no deceit!" They may say things that offend us, but at least you don't have to guess what's on their minds.

DR


Date: 12 Jan 2000
Time: 20:34:54

Comment

Great insights this week (all of you). It really helps me to come here and hear what you have to say. For me, personally, the phrase "Come and see" strikes me. Jesus said the same thing to two of John's disciples. They wanted to know where He was staying (nowhere, of course. "The Son of Man has no place to lay his head.") Following Christ means that we follow Him wherever He may lead us. And following Him is different for all of us. The end result is the same (heaven), but He leads us all in different paths according to the gifts and graces that have been so graciously given to us.

Every person in the world has a road that they travel. All roads lead to God, but not all roads lead to heaven. The choice to follow Christ means a willingness to travel the road He has chosen for us. The ride of our life is found when we "Come and see." MD in IL


Date: 12 Jan 2000
Time: 20:57:14

Comment

I am new here. So forgive me for pushing the wrong button and puting my question in Sermons. So here it is again: Has anyone noticed that at begining of year we have two readings that are talking about God's call? Are we all called to begin year with answer of faith? Senka in SM.


Date: 12 Jan 2000
Time: 22:31:36

Comment

Think about how difficult it is to convince someone that you are telling the truth. Isn't it the same with trying to convince someone about Christ being the Messiah. Philip had a difficult time convining a friend -- how difficult it is for us to convince strangers as well as family and friends.


Date: 13 Jan 2000
Time: 02:46:30

Comment

A few references to the theme of calling has me thinking about the fact that for some of us the calling is directly from God (as with Samuel) while for some it is through another human voice (As in Philip calling Nathael!) The validation of the calling plays a crucial role here. How do we (or did we) discern the origin of our calling?

Another point that I found is that curious is that one aspect of my calling came from someone that I really disliked! (Don't you just hate it when it happens that way?)

I suspect that God uses any and all methods to call us into service (not just to ordained ministry) laying claim upon us for the loving and caring of others.

My sermon this wek is entitled "Call Waiting."

A W-G rocky coast Me.


Date: 13 Jan 2000
Time: 04:17:13

Comment

Jan 13, 2000 Greeting fellow Pilgrims: Perhaps the reason that no one as yet has commented on the jCor. text is that we are so sold out to our culture we can't really see the relevence of the scripture to our age. Samuel is in the temple "set aside" for the Lord's work and hears God's voice and responds positively. Nathanael meets Jesus and leaves everything to follow him. The Christians in Corinth and many; in our USA today have the Nike attitude -"Just Do It." Self-indulgence in the things of the flesh is nothing new, but God repeatedly has called His own to be separate fom the culture, to be "peculiar." Why do we laugh at hose Christian women who wear their dresses long and simple, or put their hair up in a bun with a little white cover over it, or dress so modestly that everyone knows they are different? Aren't we supposed to be different? While the rest of the world practices gluttony and say that "fat is beautiful," why aren't we Christians regularily fasting and denying ourselves? Why don't we crucify our flesh daily as Paul prescribes? I believe that we have swallowed the lies forever - from the "enlightenment," to the "renaissance," to the "sexual revolution." What will it take to wake us up to the call of holiness? When will we preachers have the gumption to preach holiness and an abandonment of our cultural love affair with sin? Dale in Kansas


Date: 13 Jan 2000
Time: 07:41:57

Comment

I suspect the reason many of us haven't commented on 1 Corinthians 6: 12-20 is that we will be speaking to mixed groups which include children of all ages. I for one am not that excited by the thought of delving into fornication and prostitutes with such a crowd (although the teenagers would probably be extrememly interested in an indepth study of the sexual practices - and mispractices - of ancient Rome). So I'll be sticking mainly to the Gospel passage.

DR


Date: 13 Jan 2000
Time: 08:43:27

Comment

I mostly "listen" at this sight. You all inspire me with wonderful ideas. This week I feel lead to share. We don't often think about what Jesus knows about us, honestly. With Samuel God know he was the one who would carry the message to Eli, even though Samuel had a difficult time recognizing God's call. Isn't that just like God to pick the apprentice, the lesser one, to do the job. How often does God call us and we respond with an attitude of "It's not my job" or "as long as I don't open my big mouth I'll get out of this one" What did God know about the church at Corinth? They definitely don't have a good reputation. And still God called them in the midst of their lack of discipline and bad habits. Didn't God know what they were like? Did he miss sexual sins or the prostitute that hung around? Or did he call them first and them work on changing their faults as they learned more of his love. Ever have a known prostitute come to your worship? Were then loved in such a way that their lives might change or were they outcast because their lives were not yet right. What could God have been doing calling such people to his church? He just couldn't know much about them! And look at Nathanael. Another Jew who didn't want to believe. Just what Jesus needed! He had one of the original disciples tell him about Jesus and still he didn't believe. What was God up to? Jesus had enough problems keeping the folks who willingly followed him in line without someone like Nathanael. Just think he had to keep an eye on Peter. Just keeping him alive could be a full time job. He'd be living on a mountain top or drowned in the sea if not for Jesus. Jesus needed a good solid believer not another stubborn doubter. God couldn't know much about Nathanael or he wouldn't have chosen him. Right? The Psalm reading pulls it all together. God knows all about us and still loves us enough to die for us. God knows!! Not just thinks he knows or is a luck guesser. God knows! I think I'll use the title "What Does Jesus Know About Us?" Thanks for the inspiration. BY in PA


Date: 13 Jan 2000
Time: 20:01:21

Comment

I see the connection of the three lesson, that once a person has an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ that Jesus knows him/her on a very personal level. And that once a person comes to Jesus, that relationship can only grow if it becomes personal and that person puts away the sinful nature and put on a spiritual nature. Thus pure love will flow between Jesus and his disciples. Jesus calls us into a relationship with him. Much like Samuel and Philip. Once we come to see him as Nathanael did, what type of fig tree are we sitting under that Christ will tell us about and perhaps convict us that He indeed know us personally and that we turn to Him and say. "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel." Will it be the fig tree of the sin we committed against our bodies? No matter what the fig tree is, it convicts us of who Jesus Christ is in our lives.

This is just some thoughts as I look at the texts for this Sunday.

Thanks for all your comments.

God Bless Shalom,

Pastor Rich in Kent, Wa


Date: 13 Jan 2000
Time: 20:13:55

Comment

Thanks, all of you for your sharing. It has helped me a lot. As I reconsider the passage on fornication, I think of how often the prophets' message to the Israelites was a condemnation for their "whoring after other gods." Their idolatry was seen as fornication to God. Surely, we are guilty of idolatry: putting pleasure and material possessions ahead of God. So the message must apply to us. Clare in Iowa


Date: 13 Jan 2000
Time: 22:12:43

Comment

As the Epiphany Season opens before us we begin with the "attentive listening" of Samuel and Nathanael. In their hearing they discovered that it was God ("the Son of God, the King of Israel") who was speaking to them. This "attentiveness" sets the theme for the coming ministry of healing that unfolds in the weeks that follow -- (To Nathanael, you will see greater things than these.)

Further, there is an interesting difference between Philip who responds to Jesus call to follow, yet gives a kind of heady definition of who Jesus is; and when he evangelizes Nath - Nath responds with a heady and intellectual distancing: Can anything good come forth ...? It is only in a direct encounter that Nath's heart is moved and warmed .. not in the second hand information of Philip. Nathanael is drawn and not called to Jesus.

tom in ga


Date: 13 Jan 2000
Time: 22:49:54

Comment

I notice most of you are thinking of Martin Luther King Sunday, but did you also notice that it's sanctity of human life Sunday?

Can anything good come out of a life that is unplanned and unwanted. Can anything good come out of such a life? Come and see. Ask JM. JM makes a comment under this week's Psalm. JM was aborted but survived. Can anything good come of this? Frankly, I think so.

Jesus was an unplanned pregnancy. Can anything good come of such a thing?

Can anything good come from a slave? William Wilberforce thought so and brought an end to slavery in England. Can anything good come from an orphan? George Mueller thought so and built orphanages. How about an alcoholic, an embittered life, a life of shame? Can anything good come out of such a life?

Come and see.

I am also struck by the progressive revelation of Jesus to Nathaniel. At first, he was the one prophesied of by Moses and the prophets. Then He was the Son of God. But Jesus said, "That isn't all. Wait till you see my return!"


Date: 13 Jan 2000
Time: 22:50:45

Comment

I notice most of you are thinking of Martin Luther King Sunday, but did you also notice that it's sanctity of human life Sunday?

Can anything good come out of a life that is unplanned and unwanted. Can anything good come out of such a life? Come and see. Ask JM. JM makes a comment under this week's Psalm. JM was aborted but survived. Can anything good come of this? Frankly, I think so.

Jesus was an unplanned pregnancy. Can anything good come of such a thing?

Can anything good come from a slave? William Wilberforce thought so and brought an end to slavery in England. Can anything good come from an orphan? George Mueller thought so and built orphanages. How about an alcoholic, an embittered life, a life of shame? Can anything good come out of such a life?

JG from WI Come and see.

I am also struck by the progressive revelation of Jesus to Nathaniel. At first, he was the one prophesied of by Moses and the prophets. Then He was the Son of God. But Jesus said, "That isn't all. Wait till you see my return!"


Date: 13 Jan 2000
Time: 23:51:10

Comment

Full Sermon "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" From Rev John Nadasi, Lutherfetch@yahoo.com. I have incorporated some of Rev. Alex Stevenson's sermon available from the Latimer UMC website and thought that I should express that as well.

John 1: 43-51 Eads and Haswell UMC January 16, 2000

In the eleventh century, King Henry III of Bavaria grew tired of court life and the pressures of being a monarch. He made application to Prior Richard at a local monastery, asking to be accepted as a contemplative and spend the rest of his life in the monastery.

"Your Majesty," said Prior Richard, "do you understand that the pledge here is one of obedience? That will be hard because you have been a king."

"I understand," said Henry. "The rest of my life I will be obedient to you, as Christ leads you."

"Then I will tell you what to do," said Prior Richard. "Go back to your throne and serve faithfully in the place where God has put you."

And the king returned And fulfilled the call for his life Realizing that it was God that had appointed him to his throne.

When King Henry died, a statement was written: "The King learned to rule by being obedient."

God's call for his life did not look the way he might have imagined it, But it was real just as well, And he followed it.

In this morning's lectionary texts, We have heard two great stories of God's calling. We heard the story of the call of Samuel And both Phillip and Nathaniel.

Both passages are about the "call of God" - Samuel - as a youth - called in the night from the midst of his sleep to hear a message; - and Philip and Nathaniel - called in the day from the midst of their busy lives to and follow Jesus.

Next Sunday, as well, we will hear from the Gospel of Mark about the calling of Simon and Andrew and James and John - to leave everything and to follow Jesus and become ones who fish for people.

As I look at the two texts, The first thing that I notice is the dramatic difference between the calls.

In our story of Samuel, We have a boy lying in his bed, Who is awakened to the sound of God's voice calling his name.

And in this story, God himself explains to Samuel that he is to go and speak to Israel with the authority of God behind him.

Here we have a story of the call of a great prophet demonstrated by all the Drama we have come to expect of the Old Testament Much like that of Moses, Elija, and Elisha.

There is direct contact with God and his intentions are made known with absolute Clarity and dramatic expression. There is left no room for doubt.

I think that this is what most people even today envision as calling. When I have asked people why it is that they do not express their faith Or consider some kind of ministry, I get an answer like, Well, I haven't been called to it.

Really?

Let's take a closer look at our second story.

Our Scripture lesson from John today tells about Jesus calling Philip. Jesus found Philip and said to him, "Follow me." It also tells us that Philip was from the same hometown as Peter And Andrew.

Why is this significant? That means that Philip already knew what kind of people Peter and Andrew were. He understood their character.

Just the day before Peter and Andrew became Jesus' followers. When Jesus came to Philip he probably already had heard that Peter and Andrew were following him. That information probably had already had an impact on Phillip.

He might have been asking himself, What kind of a man could influence others, Especially Peter and Andrew, to just walk Away from their livelihoods.

What kind of a man is this?

Something had a profound impact because of what Philip did. Philip immediately ran to Nathaniel and said, "We have found the one spoken of by the prophets."

Notice he said "We have found..." I suppose that "we" included Peter and Andrew. So Nathaniel came to meet this prophet Philip had told him about.

When Nathaniel came Jesus acted like he already knew him. And we find out that Jesus had seen him sitting under a fig tree before Philip called him.

I imagine that when Jesus came to Philip and said, "Follow me" he knew Philip would run to Nathaniel. Jesus could already see Philip talking to Nathaniel under that fig tree.

But that is not all! If you remember, before Jesus called Philip, God had moved Andrew and Peter to follow Jesus.

I suppose that God knew what kind of impact their decision to follow Jesus would have on Philip. In a sense God orchestrated this whole series of events.

Andrew and Peter decided to follow Jesus. Their decision moved Philip. Philip tells Nathaniel. And Jesus is just standing back watching the dominos fall. And enjoying every minute of it.

Okay, so here is the trick question of the morning for you. Whose call is more real? Which call is really from God?

Samuel's call from God in the middle of the night? Or is it the call if Nathaniel and Phillip whose call is as simple as "Follow me."?

No burning bush, no voices in the night, no drama, Just, "follow me."

Which call is the one really from God?

William Muehl, a professor of Yale Divinity School, has spent many years teaching people who are about to become ministers and those who are already ministers.

William Muehl is well acquainted with ministers, and he has a complaint.

What bothers him is what he sees as a widespread tendency among ministers to do some romantic editorial work on the nature of Christian calling.

To hear most ministers talk, claims Muehl, God calls people only in moments of theatrical intensity. Someone, for example, is reading a theological book when, suddenly, a shaft of light falls upon a penetrating passage and scales fall from the reader's eyes.

Or a hillside communion service at a summer church camp begins to glow With all the luminosity and power of the Upper Room. The ministerial version of Christian calling almost always involves a moment of high drama.

This is just like what we find in Samuel's calling. God moves with intensity and purpose. Nothing is left to doubt. Yet, nothing is left to faith, either.

Muehl does not doubt that such moments do occur, but his complaint comes from doubt that they occur as often and as predictably as some ministers say they do.

Muehl thinks many ministers are guilty of dressing up these events in "Damascus Road" garb, which is unfortunate since most people come to faith, in ways that are far more down-to-earth.

They were forced into Sunday church school by their parents, or found the local church youth group to be a reliable way to spice up an otherwise dull weekend.

"These ways seem to have at least one thing in common," states Muehl. "They are not nearly as dramatic and intellectually impressive as people feel a genuine religious experience ought to be."'

When we look at the great prophets from the Old Testament, We are lead to believe that calling is a one time extraordinary event That leaves us no doubt that we are doing exactly what God would have of us.

Burning bushes, God's voice in the night, a dove descending from heaven.

But in today's story from John, That is not the only experience of call that we find. I believe what we have here is the call that most people experience. "Follow me."

No voices, no burning bushes, no doves. Just… "follow me."

I heard other seminary students question the reality of their call. God knows I have spent hours questioning my own. People who question their call, and respond out of faith are not The exception, they are the norm.

Most folks never receive a direct experience of God telling them to do something, Most folks only receive the gentle prompting of the Holy Spirit saying, "follow me."

This is one of the reasons that prompts Muehl to complain about People preaching exorbitant call experiences as the norm. He was trained as an attorney and discovered, in the law school's moot court, that he was an exceptionally effective trial lawyer. He won his cases, for the most part, but the emotional stress of doing so caused him to develop a duodenal ulcer.

After treating him for several gastric episodes, one of the health service physicians made a dire prediction. "Muehl," he said, "if you really undertake a career in the law, you will probably be rich by the age of forty.

The only trouble is that you will be dead by the age of thirty."

Hearing this, Muehl left the field of law and joined the faculty of Yale Divinity School.

Surrounded there by colleagues who had come to their work in response to a genuine sense of calling, Muehl soon began to doubt that he had experienced a real call, so he approached another faculty member, the ethicist H. Richard Neibuhr, with his concern.

Neibuhr puffed on his pipe, Laughed gently, and responded, "What does it take to make a 'call' for you, Muehl?

What you had planned to do with your life was quite literally eating you up inside, driving you . . . to consider alternatives. I can't imagine a better call outside the Bible."

What does it take to make up a "call" for you? That's an intriguing question, and one which lies at the heart of today's passage from the Gospel of John.

There are all sorts of reasons that people miss the sense of call God has for our lives.

But, perhaps the most recurring reason is that people do not Sense their call in the midst of the ordinary.

Can anything good come from Nazareth? I don't know? Can anything good come from Nazareth? Phillip rushed to Nathaniel and proclaimed. "We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth."

But Nathanael, like so many people who are blind to their own call, wasn't convinced. All he had to say was, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"

Nazareth, that provincial town, far removed from the center of worship in Jerusalem, a common place that would never be the kind of town that could produce the Messiah.

Nathaniel was looking for something grand Something immense to move him.

Can anything good come from Nazareth. You know. That little town,

Three hours southeast of Denver On the Colorado High plains.

Nazareth, The little town in Kiowa County that is struggling with economic hardship Far removed from the larger cities on the front range.

Nazareth, A town filled with hard working people That might just be mistaken for common place, and ordinary people.

Can anything good come from Nazareth? Can anything good come from (Haswell/Eads) Colorado?

Nathaniel missed it completely. I would imagine so do most of the people who travel through this Town in their cars and semi-trucks on their way somewhere else.

Nazareth. What good could possibly come from Nazareth?

What Nathaniel missed, And what William Muehl picked up on was this…

The call from God many times comes to the ordinary. Farmers, Fisherman, hunters, carpenter sons. If you are not watching for it, and open to it, you can miss it completely.

What good can come from Nazareth? (pause)

Whatever good God decides to make known. All he is looking for is people receptive to his call.

Philip could have gotten into a long discussion with Nathanael. He could have told him all the reasons that Jesus is who he said he is; he could have even come to the defense of the town of Nazareth.

But he didn't do that. All he said was "Come and see" --a simple invitation to meet the man himself.

It started with a chain of events. First Peter and Andrew, Then Phillip and Nathaniel.

This chain of events shows how God reaches people. God uses the ordinary to call us to discipleship. It is a call to come and serve. It is a call to come and be a part of the Body of Christ. And it is ALWAYS a call to share your faith with others.

If you look at your past I am sure you will see the people that influenced your decision to follow Christ: parents, relatives, Sunday school teachers, neighbors, maybe even a few preachers.

Other people's commitment to Christ was a testimony to you. "Follow me."

What good can come from Nazareth? What good can come from such a common town? It is up to you. It is through the ordinary that God has decided to reveal the extraordinary.

What can you do to be faithful to God as we play our part in this plan?

You can write these down…

1. Pray. Pray for those around you; your children, parents, friends, neighbors, and so on. We don't lead people to Christ on our own. Jesus uses us, but it is really Jesus that does the leading. We can do nothing apart from Christ, so turn to him first. If you never do anything else, pray!

(Eads) We have even made it easy for you. Wednesday night at 6 pm, We gather for a half hour to just sit and pray. No program, no expectations, no sermons. We are just coming together to pray and discover What good can come from Nazareth.

2. Live. Live a Christian life for all to see. Let people see the joy of your salvation. And don't be afraid to let them know of your pain and disappointment either.

They will see your faith and that will influence them, much like the influence Of Peter and Andrew on Phillip and Nathaniel. People will see God at work in your life if you refrain from hurtful Behavior, yes, that still means gossip, and instead Work to build others in the love of Christ.

3. Speak. You don't have to preach to tell others of your faith. You could simply share what God has done in your life. As Christians we see the world differently then others, let that point of view influence your speech.

If someone says, "It's a beautiful morning" respond "Yes, thank God," or "Isn't God's work beautiful?" Or if someone invites you to dinner, Which I have been told in this county means lunch and Not supper, anwer with "I'll be there Lord willing."

Tell friends that you have been praying for them. Instead of saying "Isn't she lucky" say "Isn't she blessed." People will pick up on your faith and that will influence them.

4. Invite. When the time is right, and the door is open, invite someone to follow Christ. Like Philip, go to Nathaniel and say, "We have found the one the prophets talked about."

Ask them to pray with you or for you. If it is too awkward for you, just invite them to church.

When Jesus came to you and said "follow me," He could already see the people you would influence. Isn't that what happened in our story this morning?

Jesus knew that to get Nathaniel, he had to get Phillip. To get Phillip, He first got Andrew and Peter.

Where are you in the chain? Are you the weak link, Or are you living out your faith in such a way That leads others to know the Lord?

There are all kinds of Nathaniels in this world sitting under fig trees waiting to be called right here.

See that door at the back of the church? They are out there.

Go to them. Answer your call.


Date: 13 Jan 2000
Time: 23:51:44

Comment

Full Sermon "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" From Rev John Nadasi, Lutherfetch@yahoo.com. I have incorporated some of Rev. Alex Stevenson's sermon available from the Latimer UMC website and thought that I should express that as well.

John 1: 43-51 Eads and Haswell UMC January 16, 2000

In the eleventh century, King Henry III of Bavaria grew tired of court life and the pressures of being a monarch. He made application to Prior Richard at a local monastery, asking to be accepted as a contemplative and spend the rest of his life in the monastery.

"Your Majesty," said Prior Richard, "do you understand that the pledge here is one of obedience? That will be hard because you have been a king."

"I understand," said Henry. "The rest of my life I will be obedient to you, as Christ leads you."

"Then I will tell you what to do," said Prior Richard. "Go back to your throne and serve faithfully in the place where God has put you."

And the king returned And fulfilled the call for his life Realizing that it was God that had appointed him to his throne.

When King Henry died, a statement was written: "The King learned to rule by being obedient."

God's call for his life did not look the way he might have imagined it, But it was real just as well, And he followed it.

In this morning's lectionary texts, We have heard two great stories of God's calling. We heard the story of the call of Samuel And both Phillip and Nathaniel.

Both passages are about the "call of God" - Samuel - as a youth - called in the night from the midst of his sleep to hear a message; - and Philip and Nathaniel - called in the day from the midst of their busy lives to and follow Jesus.

Next Sunday, as well, we will hear from the Gospel of Mark about the calling of Simon and Andrew and James and John - to leave everything and to follow Jesus and become ones who fish for people.

As I look at the two texts, The first thing that I notice is the dramatic difference between the calls.

In our story of Samuel, We have a boy lying in his bed, Who is awakened to the sound of God's voice calling his name.

And in this story, God himself explains to Samuel that he is to go and speak to Israel with the authority of God behind him.

Here we have a story of the call of a great prophet demonstrated by all the Drama we have come to expect of the Old Testament Much like that of Moses, Elija, and Elisha.

There is direct contact with God and his intentions are made known with absolute Clarity and dramatic expression. There is left no room for doubt.

I think that this is what most people even today envision as calling. When I have asked people why it is that they do not express their faith Or consider some kind of ministry, I get an answer like, Well, I haven't been called to it.

Really?

Let's take a closer look at our second story.

Our Scripture lesson from John today tells about Jesus calling Philip. Jesus found Philip and said to him, "Follow me." It also tells us that Philip was from the same hometown as Peter And Andrew.

Why is this significant? That means that Philip already knew what kind of people Peter and Andrew were. He understood their character.

Just the day before Peter and Andrew became Jesus' followers. When Jesus came to Philip he probably already had heard that Peter and Andrew were following him. That information probably had already had an impact on Phillip.

He might have been asking himself, What kind of a man could influence others, Especially Peter and Andrew, to just walk Away from their livelihoods.

What kind of a man is this?

Something had a profound impact because of what Philip did. Philip immediately ran to Nathaniel and said, "We have found the one spoken of by the prophets."

Notice he said "We have found..." I suppose that "we" included Peter and Andrew. So Nathaniel came to meet this prophet Philip had told him about.

When Nathaniel came Jesus acted like he already knew him. And we find out that Jesus had seen him sitting under a fig tree before Philip called him.

I imagine that when Jesus came to Philip and said, "Follow me" he knew Philip would run to Nathaniel. Jesus could already see Philip talking to Nathaniel under that fig tree.

But that is not all! If you remember, before Jesus called Philip, God had moved Andrew and Peter to follow Jesus.

I suppose that God knew what kind of impact their decision to follow Jesus would have on Philip. In a sense God orchestrated this whole series of events.

Andrew and Peter decided to follow Jesus. Their decision moved Philip. Philip tells Nathaniel. And Jesus is just standing back watching the dominos fall. And enjoying every minute of it.

Okay, so here is the trick question of the morning for you. Whose call is more real? Which call is really from God?

Samuel's call from God in the middle of the night? Or is it the call if Nathaniel and Phillip whose call is as simple as "Follow me."?

No burning bush, no voices in the night, no drama, Just, "follow me."

Which call is the one really from God?

William Muehl, a professor of Yale Divinity School, has spent many years teaching people who are about to become ministers and those who are already ministers.

William Muehl is well acquainted with ministers, and he has a complaint.

What bothers him is what he sees as a widespread tendency among ministers to do some romantic editorial work on the nature of Christian calling.

To hear most ministers talk, claims Muehl, God calls people only in moments of theatrical intensity. Someone, for example, is reading a theological book when, suddenly, a shaft of light falls upon a penetrating passage and scales fall from the reader's eyes.

Or a hillside communion service at a summer church camp begins to glow With all the luminosity and power of the Upper Room. The ministerial version of Christian calling almost always involves a moment of high drama.

This is just like what we find in Samuel's calling. God moves with intensity and purpose. Nothing is left to doubt. Yet, nothing is left to faith, either.

Muehl does not doubt that such moments do occur, but his complaint comes from doubt that they occur as often and as predictably as some ministers say they do.

Muehl thinks many ministers are guilty of dressing up these events in "Damascus Road" garb, which is unfortunate since most people come to faith, in ways that are far more down-to-earth.

They were forced into Sunday church school by their parents, or found the local church youth group to be a reliable way to spice up an otherwise dull weekend.

"These ways seem to have at least one thing in common," states Muehl. "They are not nearly as dramatic and intellectually impressive as people feel a genuine religious experience ought to be."'

When we look at the great prophets from the Old Testament, We are lead to believe that calling is a one time extraordinary event That leaves us no doubt that we are doing exactly what God would have of us.

Burning bushes, God's voice in the night, a dove descending from heaven.

But in today's story from John, That is not the only experience of call that we find. I believe what we have here is the call that most people experience. "Follow me."

No voices, no burning bushes, no doves. Just… "follow me."

I heard other seminary students question the reality of their call. God knows I have spent hours questioning my own. People who question their call, and respond out of faith are not The exception, they are the norm.

Most folks never receive a direct experience of God telling them to do something, Most folks only receive the gentle prompting of the Holy Spirit saying, "follow me."

This is one of the reasons that prompts Muehl to complain about People preaching exorbitant call experiences as the norm. He was trained as an attorney and discovered, in the law school's moot court, that he was an exceptionally effective trial lawyer. He won his cases, for the most part, but the emotional stress of doing so caused him to develop a duodenal ulcer.

After treating him for several gastric episodes, one of the health service physicians made a dire prediction. "Muehl," he said, "if you really undertake a career in the law, you will probably be rich by the age of forty.

The only trouble is that you will be dead by the age of thirty."

Hearing this, Muehl left the field of law and joined the faculty of Yale Divinity School.

Surrounded there by colleagues who had come to their work in response to a genuine sense of calling, Muehl soon began to doubt that he had experienced a real call, so he approached another faculty member, the ethicist H. Richard Neibuhr, with his concern.

Neibuhr puffed on his pipe, Laughed gently, and responded, "What does it take to make a 'call' for you, Muehl?

What you had planned to do with your life was quite literally eating you up inside, driving you . . . to consider alternatives. I can't imagine a better call outside the Bible."

What does it take to make up a "call" for you? That's an intriguing question, and one which lies at the heart of today's passage from the Gospel of John.

There are all sorts of reasons that people miss the sense of call God has for our lives.

But, perhaps the most recurring reason is that people do not Sense their call in the midst of the ordinary.

Can anything good come from Nazareth? I don't know? Can anything good come from Nazareth? Phillip rushed to Nathaniel and proclaimed. "We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth."

But Nathanael, like so many people who are blind to their own call, wasn't convinced. All he had to say was, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"

Nazareth, that provincial town, far removed from the center of worship in Jerusalem, a common place that would never be the kind of town that could produce the Messiah.

Nathaniel was looking for something grand Something immense to move him.

Can anything good come from Nazareth. You know. That little town,

Three hours southeast of Denver On the Colorado High plains.

Nazareth, The little town in Kiowa County that is struggling with economic hardship Far removed from the larger cities on the front range.

Nazareth, A town filled with hard working people That might just be mistaken for common place, and ordinary people.

Can anything good come from Nazareth? Can anything good come from (Haswell/Eads) Colorado?

Nathaniel missed it completely. I would imagine so do most of the people who travel through this Town in their cars and semi-trucks on their way somewhere else.

Nazareth. What good could possibly come from Nazareth?

What Nathaniel missed, And what William Muehl picked up on was this…

The call from God many times comes to the ordinary. Farmers, Fisherman, hunters, carpenter sons. If you are not watching for it, and open to it, you can miss it completely.

What good can come from Nazareth? (pause)

Whatever good God decides to make known. All he is looking for is people receptive to his call.

Philip could have gotten into a long discussion with Nathanael. He could have told him all the reasons that Jesus is who he said he is; he could have even come to the defense of the town of Nazareth.

But he didn't do that. All he said was "Come and see" --a simple invitation to meet the man himself.

It started with a chain of events. First Peter and Andrew, Then Phillip and Nathaniel.

This chain of events shows how God reaches people. God uses the ordinary to call us to discipleship. It is a call to come and serve. It is a call to come and be a part of the Body of Christ. And it is ALWAYS a call to share your faith with others.

If you look at your past I am sure you will see the people that influenced your decision to follow Christ: parents, relatives, Sunday school teachers, neighbors, maybe even a few preachers.

Other people's commitment to Christ was a testimony to you. "Follow me."

What good can come from Nazareth? What good can come from such a common town? It is up to you. It is through the ordinary that God has decided to reveal the extraordinary.

What can you do to be faithful to God as we play our part in this plan?

You can write these down…

1. Pray. Pray for those around you; your children, parents, friends, neighbors, and so on. We don't lead people to Christ on our own. Jesus uses us, but it is really Jesus that does the leading. We can do nothing apart from Christ, so turn to him first. If you never do anything else, pray!

(Eads) We have even made it easy for you. Wednesday night at 6 pm, We gather for a half hour to just sit and pray. No program, no expectations, no sermons. We are just coming together to pray and discover What good can come from Nazareth.

2. Live. Live a Christian life for all to see. Let people see the joy of your salvation. And don't be afraid to let them know of your pain and disappointment either.

They will see your faith and that will influence them, much like the influence Of Peter and Andrew on Phillip and Nathaniel. People will see God at work in your life if you refrain from hurtful Behavior, yes, that still means gossip, and instead Work to build others in the love of Christ.

3. Speak. You don't have to preach to tell others of your faith. You could simply share what God has done in your life. As Christians we see the world differently then others, let that point of view influence your speech.

If someone says, "It's a beautiful morning" respond "Yes, thank God," or "Isn't God's work beautiful?" Or if someone invites you to dinner, Which I have been told in this county means lunch and Not supper, anwer with "I'll be there Lord willing."

Tell friends that you have been praying for them. Instead of saying "Isn't she lucky" say "Isn't she blessed." People will pick up on your faith and that will influence them.

4. Invite. When the time is right, and the door is open, invite someone to follow Christ. Like Philip, go to Nathaniel and say, "We have found the one the prophets talked about."

Ask them to pray with you or for you. If it is too awkward for you, just invite them to church.

When Jesus came to you and said "follow me," He could already see the people you would influence. Isn't that what happened in our story this morning?

Jesus knew that to get Nathaniel, he had to get Phillip. To get Phillip, He first got Andrew and Peter.

Where are you in the chain? Are you the weak link, Or are you living out your faith in such a way That leads others to know the Lord?

There are all kinds of Nathaniels in this world sitting under fig trees waiting to be called right here.

See that door at the back of the church? They are out there.

Go to them. Answer your call.


Date: 14 Jan 2000
Time: 02:53:11

Comment

What calls out to me from this text is "You will see greater things than these." What shall we see? Are we prepared for it? Are we prepared to be a part of it? In the past century, life on earth has changed more than ever thought possible, and yet, this is not, I believe, the change Jesus is talking about. Do we really expect (and perhaps, even demand) earth-shattering, cosmos-splitting miracles from God?

BJE in NH


Date: 14 Jan 2000
Time: 18:07:31

Comment

Yet another comment on the the great corinthian debate. I personally feel no need to preach on all three texts. One is quite enough. When I 've heard others try to preach on all three, the sermon usually suffers because (a) there is not enough time to develop the main idea and (b) the meanings of the texts are forced to mean something than what they were intended. Once in awhile, I preach on two of the texts when I can do so without a lot convolutions. If your tradition requires you to read all three, why not preach on just one? Short comments can accompany the reading of each text, but the main sermon flows more naturally from one reading. People get confused easily enough as it is. Clarity is so important.

Peace, Larry cny.


Date: 14 Jan 2000
Time: 19:44:50

Comment

Great comments as always. I had decided to come at this from the angle that we are all called to follow in Christ's footsteps as Philip and Natanael were. Called to live the Christ-centered life. Focusing our every moment on walking with Christ. If we are closer today to Him than yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow. (using and oldie goldie phrase). Then we indeed are following His call to us. And especially as Philip did, share the Good News of the journey with others so they too can share in eternal life.

Much like sour dough bread, when you share the starter with someone they can make their own sour dough and then they share with some one else and on and on it goes.

Well God Bless everyone on Sunday. May His Word go forth and be fruitful in His vineyard.

God Bless, Shalom Pastor Rich


Date: 14 Jan 2000
Time: 19:47:42

Comment

I am using the 23rd as Life Sunday. Dealing with the Value of Life. Just a heads up, in the new Citizen from Focus on the Family it has a good article on abortion and the now selling of the body parts. I might call this years sermon, "At What Price?"

Well that's next week God Bless PR


Date: 15 Jan 2000
Time: 05:18:39

Comment

This is my first time to this site, and I find the comments very valuable. I, too, do not find it a requirement to preach on all of the passages on any given Sunday. To me, this week's Old Testament and Gospel lessons are natural together. To the person who called Jesus an "unplanned pregnancy", Didn't Mary know before it happened? Would God have done it if Mary had said no? God had a plan, and Mary accepted that plan. The pregnancy was both planned and wanted. To me, this does not correlate with today's problem of unplanned pregnancies. They are two different matters. However, that is just my belief. Blessings, John from WI


Date: 15 Jan 2000
Time: 05:46:21

Comment

Just a comment about Jesus being an "unplanned pregnancy". Did not God have a plan? Did not God tell Mary of the plan? Did not Mary accept the plan? Wouldn't that make Jesus both "planned" and "wanted? Would God have done it if Mary had said no? I do not see any correlation between Jesus' birth and the problem of unplanned pregnancies of today. Blessings, JPH from WI


Date: 15 Jan 2000
Time: 12:44:41

Comment

I'm late again, but if this is some use to another preacher who leaves it to the last minute ... then good.

Thankyou for all the stimulating thoughts. Like some of you, I am not concerned about my preaching linking the readings. In fact, this Sunday, we will have the epistle and the Gospel ... not the Old Testament (because we tend to just have two readings) and I will just allow the epistle to speak for itself.

In the Gospel ... I think I will focus on Nathaniel ... he’s looking for the Messiah ... can he come from Nazareth? People today are looking for help, and for answers and for miracles to change their lives ... but there is a scepticism about Jesus ... can this Jesus really be any help to me? There is a spiritual search, an expectation that there are answers out there that science and consumerism do not answer ... but there is a reluctance to accept that Jesus, and Jesus alone is the answer.

Nathaniel also had an expectation, but was reluctnant to believe that Jesus was the answer to his hopes. The ‘little miracle’ in Jesus saying that he saw him under the fig tree ( it must be a miracle because of Nathaniel’s response - You are the Christ) .. this little miracle reminds me of the way that a new Christian, or someone newly searching, often experiences ‘little miracles’ that bolster their immature faith and help them in their early days of following Jesus. It helps them to see that Jesus is the one ..

However, Jesus’ response is to say ... ‘You will see greater things than these’ What are the ‘greater things?’ Does he mean the miracles that he will do .. the healings ..the feeding of the multitude .... A hint to what the ‘greater things’ are is surely in the example Jesus alludes to ... the example of Jacob. ... and the key words I think are ... “angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."

Jesus responds to Nathaniel’s confession of Jesus as ‘the Son of God’ by referring to himself as the ‘Son of Man’ Who in Mark’s gospel is the ‘Son of Man?’.... I think that the Son of man refers mostly to the redeeming work of Jesus ... the cross, the resurrection and the ascension. Jesus is saying effectively ... ‘You believe because you have seen a miracle ... and you call me the Son of God because of that ... and I won’t deny that ... but what you will see is even more amazing than miracles of power .. you will see the one whom you have confessed as the Son of God give himself up to suffering ... now that will be amazing ...’

For me this passage is partly looking back to Epiphany ... to the revealing of Christ to the world ... and here we see another bit of the revealing as Philip and Nathaniel see who Jesus is .... but it also looks forward to the cross .. it hints at an even greater wonder ... the wonder of the Son of God, who is the Son of Man ... who lives out humanity so fully ...even to death, ‘God ... in bringing many children to glory should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings’ .. ( Heb 2:10)

As to our discipleship ... there are two aspects to seeing who Jesus is for us today ... one concerns his Lordship and his power ... and touches on our faith to see God doing great things ... healings etc ... and the other concerns his humanity and his suffering, and touches on our willingness to walk wherever he leads us .. even into dark places ... even into a world where Christ is denied and forgotten. As Christians, as disciples, we need to be FULL OF FAITH for the miracles that the Son of God still does ... and FAITHFUL ... to his call to follow the Son of Man wherever he leads.

Grace and Peace. Rev Ev in UK


Date: 16 Jan 2000
Time: 01:50:48

Comment

I know this is late in the coming, and I only skimmed the other contributions, but it just hit me that Nathanael did not become one of the "12" disciples of Jesus. Yet despite that Jesus says to him that he will see great things. Nathaneal's calling was not to be one of the 12, but his calling was just as important. Just some fodder as it gets closer to panic time. Taber in CO


Date: 16 Jan 2000
Time: 02:42:05

Comment

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems that Nat doesn't fully know thw word. Nazereth! was it not prophesied as the birthplace. Herod did't know either. Could we use this as knowing the word, as knowing Jesus the Messiah?


Date: 16 Jan 2000
Time: 04:41:20

Comment

Responding to the last to contributions: Nathaniel is one of the twelve under a different name: Bartholomew, or so it is understood by tradition. As to his being a disciple see Jn 21:2. About the birt place; it is not Nazareth but Bethleham. Sometimes I get those glitches in memory of otherwise well known details. revrandyWilmingtonDE