The Second Sunday of Epiphany
Readings: 1 Samuel 3.1-10; Psalm 139.1-6, 13-18; Revelation 5.1-10; John 1.43-51 (view all)
It’s funny, the memories we have that stick with us. I still have a vivid memory of the first time I got ‘lost’ in a shop.
I couldn’t have been older than about six or seven, and as we were browsing around a department store I was distracted by a video game which was playing on the screen at the end of an aisle. I still remember the sense of panic I felt when I looked up a few minutes later and realised my parents had moved on without me. Of course, they knew exactly where I was and within a few more minutes we were reunited again much to my relief.
In this morning’s readings, we encounter the God who searches people out, and who knows them intimately. I wonder, what can we learn from them about who God is, and who we are called to be?
In our gospel reading, we see Jesus as the one who finds two of his first disciples. Jesus ‘finds’ Philip, calling him to follow – but then, following Jesus’ example, it is Philip who finds Nathaniel, calling him to ‘Come and see’.
When Nathaniel encounters Jesus, he is stunned that, rather than meeting a stranger, Jesus speaks to him like an old friend. And when questioned, Jesus’ response to Nathaniel is telling, ‘I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you’.
Jesus wants Nathaniel to know: ‘Before you even knew about me, I knew you.’
Just as Jesus knew Nathaniel, and just as God knew Samuel before Samuel could even recognise his voice, our God knows us. He knows our joys and our sorrows, our goodness and our sinfulness, and still he chooses to seek us out and embrace us as brothers and sisters.
This is the God of whom the Psalmist writes, ‘O Lord, you have searched me out and known me… Such knowledge is too wonderful for me so high that I cannot attain it.’
Are we willing to allow God to find us, to comfort us in our sorrow and pain, and to offer us his peace? Are there areas of our own lives where we need Jesus’ healing – physical, emotional or spiritual – as we come to receive at his table? And are we willing, like Philip, to join our Saviour in the business of finding those who feel lost, those whose voice is unheard, those who are in need of God’s grace, and inviting them too to ‘come and see’ our incredible Saviour?
Last week, I offered a quote from the great Roman Catholic spiritual writer Henri Nouwen, and here’s another:
In our world of loneliness and despair, there is enormous need for men and women who know the heart of God, a heart that forgives, cares, reaches out and wants to heal.In the name of Jesus, p. 37
Our God is the one who searches for us, who knows us intimately, and calls us to join him in seeking out those who feel lost.
in Christ you make all things new:
transform the poverty of our nature
by the riches of your grace,
and in the renewal of our lives
make known your heavenly glory;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.