Sunday, November 18, 2012

Look to Jesus and what do you see?

In the opening chapters of John's Gospel a number of people look to Jesus and see him in all sorts of different lights.  By the end of the chapter we can see just who Jesus is and what he means for us all.

The following meditative prayer is based on John chapter 1 it was on the cover of our Order of Service Sheet today.

Looking to Jesus - Living for Jesus

Look to Jesus and see 
In all his words the Word of God
In all his life a light shining in the darkness
In all his deeds glory full of grace and truth
In all his love the Lamb of God
In all his thoughts the wisest of teachers
In all his humanity one just like us
In all his authority the Son of God, the King
In all  his being the One
The One who spans earth and heaven
The One who brings earth down to heaven
The One who raises earth to heaven
Look to Jesus and see
See the One worth living for

Janet led our prayers of concern

In our prayers this morning we are going to begin with a few moments of stillness, and then share in prayer for ourselves and our own needs.  We shall then join in singing Song 23 as a response.

We shall then pray for our church and its needs and for our church family, singing Song 24 as a response.

We shall then pray for the wider world and its needs.

And so let’s begin our time of prayer with a few moments of stillness

[Pause for a few moments of quiet]

Lord Jesus Christ,
You look into our hearts and see us as we are
You look into our hearts and you love us as we are.
You know our joys and our troubles, our hopes and our fears
Reach out and touch us at the point at which we need your touch most.

Should we be facing times of anxiety at home or at work,
Grant us your peace and your strengthening
Should we be facing times of ill health
Grant us your healing and that wholeness you alone can give
Should we be facing times of sadness in bereavement
Grant us your comfort and your blessing

Lord Jesus Christ,
Fill us with the love, the joy, the peace, the power of your Holy Spirit
That we may know we are not alone, but you are ever with us.

Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me,
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me,
Break me, melt me, mould me, fill me –
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.

[Having spoken those words, pause for Mary to accompany the singing of that verse]

Lord Jesus Christ,
You look into our church and see us as we are
You look into our church and you love us as we are.
You know our joys and our troubles, our hopes and our fears
Reach out and touch us at the point at which we need your touch most.

As we seek the renewal of our church
Grant wisdom to our deacons as they guide us through a time of change
Grant each of us a willingness to share the gifts we have to build up the body of Christ

As we seek to develop our mission and our outreach
Grant your blessing on our Community Café, on Transformers, Hy-Tec, Hy-Speed
Grant your blessing on the partnerships we share across the world
            With Stefan and Birgit as they enjoy the rest of their leave
            With Children’s Homes in Kerala State as we develop our links with them
            Through the Council for World Mission and our mission partnership

As we seek to deepen our own personal faith and prayer
Grant us an openness to one another that enables us to support each other
And be close to those who are sad at this moment, thinking especially of James and Chris following the death of Chris’s mother, Agnes.
Be close to those who would love to be here with us but cannot because of ill health, thinking especially of Joan Lee and others in our thoughts

Lord Jesus Christ,
Fill our church with the love, the joy, the peace, the power of your Holy Spirit
That we may work together to your glory

Spirit of the living God, move among us all;
Make us one in heart and mind, make us one in love:
Humble, caring, selfless, sharing –
Spirit of the living God, fill our lives with love!

[Having spoken those words, pause for Mary to accompany the singing of that verse]

Lord Jesus Christ,
You look into our world and see it as it is
You look into our world you love it as it is.
You know its joys and its troubles, its hopes and its fears
Reach out to a world of need and touch it where that touch is needed most.

Bless the community of our town – we pray especially for the Police service and the new Police and Crime Commissioner, for County Community Projects and all who work for those who are most vulnerable. Be with all who seek to make our town a safe place to live and a supportive, caring community.

We pray especially at this time for those who are in prison and for those who work in our prisons and for the victims of crime.  We pray for the Knole and for the work of Langley House trust among ex-offenders.

We pray today for the people of Palestine and Israel that violence may cease: grant wisdom to those who work for peace and a just settlement.  We pray for the people of Syria and for peace to come to that troubled region.

Lord Jesus Christ, we pray especially for your people,
those who follow your way in all the world
May we together be ambassadors for you,
Sharing a ministry of reconciliation
That on earth as in heaven, your will may be done.

All for Jesus, all for Jesus!
This our song shall ever be:
You our only hope, our saviour,
Yours the love that sets us free!

Let’s draw this time of prayer to a close as we stand to sing All for Jesus.

Look to Jesus and what do you see?

At the national slate museum of Wales in Llanberis below the Dinorwic quarries where my great grandfather was a quarryman you can look across the valley and Llyn Padarn and look again until you can make out in the contours of the hill side the Lady of Snowdon.   The majestic profile of a dignified lady, a princess maybe.  You can look and look and not see.  But once you have seen it you will see it forever!

There’s this Sunday and next and then we have the four Sundays of Advent that lead us to Christmas.  Plans are already being made.  Shopping lights lit.  Cards purchased.  Presents bought.

I wonder whether we can take time in this season of preparation to look once again at Jesus.  I wonder whether we can do more than look.  Can we be on the look out for something to see.  As we look, may it be our prayer that we can see.  Maybe see with new eyes.

Look at Jesus and what do you see?

John’s gospel opens as people look to Jesus.  As they look to Jesus they see with new eyes.  And as they see it makes a world of difference to them all.

John the Baptist is the first.  He’s known Jesus.  He has baptized Jesus.  And the very next day he saw Jesus coming towards him.

 And he saw Jesus with new eyes. 

Look, he said to those around him. 

Behold!  The lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Here we are.  Looking towards the front of the church.  Engaged in differing measure.  Coming to meet good friends.  A warm place to sit.  An interesting talk.  Fun with the children.  We look at the cross.  Lovely piece of wood.  And a table prepared with bread we shall hold and look at and eat.  And a cup to take in our hands and look at and drink from.  What are we looking to see?

The lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  Jesus the one who comes into the messiness and awfulness and horrors of the world to be a transformative power that takes away the stuff that separates us from all that is of God.

John had seen something in Jesus – a power, a strength, a presence that was nothing less than the presence of God – “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove and it rested on him.  I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.

Lamb of God.  Spirit of God.  Son of God.

As Christmas approaches let’s put to one side all those theories, arguments, ideas about God.  Let’s put to one side the philosophizing, the debating, the arguing.

Instead let’s look to Jesus and see in Jesus God – not a distant God, out there beyond the universe, detached, some vague first principle.  But God who comes into the world alongside people in their suffering, to abide with  them through good times and bad times to bestow upon them a strength that on their own they cannot muster, to be to them a loving Father who cares and will not let them down.

Look to Jesus and see God to be the one who abides with us come what may … and that is something we cannot keep to ourselves.  Neither could John.

The next day John was standing with two of his disciples.  He watched Jesus walk by.  And exclaimed ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God.

Once you have seen it you cannot keep it to yourself.   Anyone who happens to be with me I will want to share it with – look can’t you see – the Lady of Snowdon!

John shared it with his disciples.  And they got it.  They followed Jesus.

As John’s story unfolds at this point something remarkable and wonderful happens.

Jesus turned and saw them following.

It is very easy to imagine that faith is a matter of us searching, us looking, us hoping to see.   As we dig into the story of Jesus in the opening words of John’s gospel, something else emerges.

Jesus is also looking.  He sees and he has a question he asks those two followers of John the Baptist.

“What are you looking for?”

Have you ever sensed that someone is looking at you?   You turn and catch their eye.

What are we expecting as we come to church and share together here.  Whatever it is that we are expecting, can we for a moment see in our mind’s eye that just as he did then, so Jesus does no.

Jesus sees us.  He looks at us.  And he asks us something very personal …

What are you looking for?

What would be your response?

The response the two make is telling.

Rabbi – that means teacher.  They see in Jesus one who teaches with wisdom and with authority – that’s what has drawn them to be disciples of John the Baptist – the power of his teaching.  They recognise that even more so in Jesus.

Teacher, where do you abide?

And then Jesus says to them,  “Come and see.”

They came and saw where he did abide.  And they abided with him that day.

I love that thought.  Let’s transfer this into our service today.

The invitation is there for us to use our imagination, to see with that inward eye.   Imagine.  Maybe a picture of Jesus.  Imagine the figure of Christ.

He turns and sees that we have come here this morning.

And he asks us that question.

What are you looking for?

Let’s make their response our response.

Teacher – let’s acknowledge him as the great teacher … but then let’s ask that next question.  Where do you abide?

Where are you?  Where can we find you in this troubled and troubling world?  Where are you going to be?  Where are you going to stay?  Where are you going to remain?

Then let’s here Jesus say to us.


Those are the words to listen out for as we take communion.

Come to me all you that labour and are heavy laden.

Come and see.

This s where we are invited to take that step of faith.  Venturing out.

They came  and saw where he did abide and they abided with him that day.

Let’s come into the presence of Christ, realise that he promises to abide with us through this day, on into the days to come, through this week, on into the weeks to come.  He promises to remain with us to stay with us to abide with us, to be with us to the end of the age.

There is a comfort, a strengthening to share when we gather together especially around this table in communion.

So what do we do about it?

The story suggests there’s something to be done.

One of those two remains un-named – and many suppose him to be the one writing the gospel.  The other is Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.  So what does Andrew do?

He couldn’t keep things to himself.

He first found his brother Simon and said to him, We have found the Messiah (that means the one who is anointed, the one who brings in God’s rule).

He brought Simon to him.  And Jesus looked at Simon … and the whole thing starts again.

Now that’s a challenge to us.

Look and see.  Find Christ Jesus looks and sees.  And as we discover anew what it is to abide in his presence this is something to share.

The next day Jesus goes to Galilee – meets with Philip from the same town as Andrew and Simon Peter.  Philip finds Nathanael who can’t believe anything good can come from Nazareth.

And so Philip says, Come and see.

Nathanael comes … and what happens?  Nathanael discovers that Jesus is looking out for him and sees him.

Teacher, you are the Son of God, you are the King of Israel.

Then comes the greatest promise of all.

You will see heaven coming down to earth, and earth going up to heaven – and the One who brings heaven down to earth, the one who takes earth up to heaven … is the Son of Man in all his glory.

Come looking.


And find that Jesus is also looking. He also sees.

Abide in him as he abides in us … and then pass it on.  Share it with others.

At Communion

The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples,
and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed,

‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!’ 
The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.

We too have followed Jesus.
He turns and sees us following and asks of us that same question.

 ‘What are you looking for?’

They said to him, ‘Rabbi’ (which translated means Teacher),
‘where do you abide?’ 

He said to them, ‘Come and see.’

Jesus speaks those very words to us this day.

Come and see.

 ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest. 
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me;
for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’

They came and saw where he was abiding,
and they did abide with him that day. 

Let’s hear again those words of Jesus.

‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower.
 Abide in me as I abide in you.
Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine,
 neither can you unless you abide in me. 
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit,
because apart from me you can do nothing. 

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you;
abide in my love. 

‘This is my commandment,
that you love one another as I have loved you.

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