Waiting . . . 5th Sunday in Lent, March 29, 2020. (Third Sunday of dispersed worship due to COVID-19)

Calvary Episcopal Church, Stonington, CT 

The Rev. Gillian R. Barr

John 11:1-45

Ezek. 37:1-14

Ps. 130

We are waiting, all waiting, waiting  . . . .


The young ones, who can’t understand the science, waiting for when they can play with their friends again. The parents waiting: when can we go to an office again, or even when can we work at all? 

Waiting. How long can we stretch out the food in the pantry, before we have to go to the store? 

Waiting. Will what we think, and hope, are allergy symptoms, suddenly turn into something more sinister? Will we suddenly find ourselves short of breath? 

Waiting. When will there be enough masks, enough protective equipment? When will there be more ventilators?  

Waiting. When will I forget to wash my hands for just one moment, and then find myself sick? 

Waiting.  As the cases begin to mount quickly, waiting for the other shoe to drop, for It to come too close. 

We are waiting, lonely, feeling cut-off, isolated from all that is routine and familiar, from our friends, from our coworkers, from our extended families, from our regular visitors. 

And we wonder:  where is God in all this? 

We are waiting, just as the exiled Israelites and the prophet Ezekiel waited.  Their leaders had failed them, because of stubbornness and pride and political machinations, which led to Jerusalem being besieged by her enemies and overrun with famine and disease. And then most everyone in the city was captured and taken away from their homes, away from all that was familiar. Cut off from their temple, and, they thought, from their God; led into a totally foreign place and culture. 

We wait, just as Mary and Martha waited for Jesus. “We’ve sent word to Jesus—Lazarus is very sick—will he  get here in time?” … “No he didn’t get here in time–will he come at all?” 

We wait. 

And God comes to us, just as God came to Ezekiel and the Israelites, saying “I know these bones seem dead and dry and beyond life, but I will breathe life into them again. I will build you back into a people connected to one another, people with flesh that can be touched and hugged. People full of breath, all the breath that you want, and you need.”

God comes to us as Jesus came to Mary and Martha and Lazarus.  Not to eliminate death from the world, but to say, “This road does not lead to death.”  In ancient Israel “Death” was thought of as a physical place, Sheol, the place of the shades of the dead. It was also thought of as the valley, the garbage dump, where the bodies of the outcast were taken, where the trash was burned. That was where Death was–it was a physical place.  

Jesus is saying this path, this road, this situation, does not lead to Death. It is not a dead-end; Death is not its goal, its terminus.

It goes by Death, it goes through Death, but it goes beyond Death, to something more than that… to new life, to resurrection. 

Jesus brings Lazarus back to life, restores him to his family. But even here new life is entwined with death. Because Lazarus does not get a “get out of death free” card. He will need to die again, just as all of us die. 

And it is, ironically, Jesus’s raising Lazarus to an extension of his life that brings the forces of death actually down upon Jesus himself.  It is this most powerful sign, raising someone from the dead, which finally convinces the leaders of the people that this is a step too far. They cannot deal with this much power in opposition to them. And so (if you read on beyond the end of today’s story and read into Chapter 12 in John, you will see) that from that day forward, the leaders plotted how they could kill Jesus. They also plotted how they could kill Lazarus, because it was because Lazarus was up and walking around that people were believing in Jesus.  

Caiaphas the High Priest says, “You know, if we let this go on, all the people will be in an uproar, and we will lose our power. And so instead, it is better that one man die, then that all our power die. That one man die for the sake of the people. “

We can relate to that, to people saying is better that some die and we maintain our power, then that we focus on what will bring life to all.

So we, like Martha, like Mary and like Lazarus and like the disciples, find ourselves in that paradox of life interwoven with death. The disciples realized that by going back to Judea, and by doing this sign, Jesus is bringing death on himself, and yet they agree to walk with him. 

But this path does not lead only to death, it leads beyond death to new life. And it leads that way, and we walk that way, not alone, but accompanied by a God who knows what it means to lose those closest to him. 

Jesus weeps with Martha and Mary, he joins them in their grief. He is moved more deeply than at any other time in the scriptures. He is moved deeply in his heart and he weeps with them. 

We are accompanied by that God, who knows what it is to love and to lose. And to have to walk through death.  But who also knows that death is not the end of the story. 

It will be a long journey, but there is new life on the other side of death. 

In the coming weeks, we will walk through Holy Week. Together, we will walk through the valley of the shadow, we will walk to the Cross, we will kneel at the foot of the Cross. 

But eventually we will come to Easter, because this road does not lead to death,  it does not end at death. It goes beyond death, to Easter. 

But right now, we find ourselves waiting. 

We find ourselves waiting, trusting that God will breathe that new breath of life into our dead and isolated bones, that Jesus will call us from our tombs, and say, “Come out!” 

And then Jesus will commission those around us, and commission us, to unbind one another, from our captivity to death, and from our isolation. 

We are in this place of waiting. Just as the Israelites waited, just as Martha and Mary and Lazarus and their friends waited.  

And we wait with the prayer of Psalm 130 on our lips: 

I wait for the Lord; my soul waits for Him;

In his word is my hope. 

My soul waits for the Lord, 

more than watchmen for the morning,

more than watchmen for the morning.

Oh people, wait for the Lord, 

for with the Lord there is mercy, 

with the Lord there is plenteous redemption. 

And he shall redeem us from all our sins. 

Amen.

(Image: The Raising of Lazarus. Mid-12th century, Capella di Patina, Palermo, Italy. Vanderbilt Divinity School library, “Art in the Christian Tradition.”)

4th Sunday in Lent, Yr A 2020 (2nd Sunday of dispersed worship due to COVID-19 pandemic)

The Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year A

March 22, 2020

(The second Sunday of dispersed worship due to the COVID-19 pandemic)

Calvary Episcopal Church, Stonington

The Rev. Gillian R. Barr

1 Sam. 16:1-13, Psalm 23, John 9:1-41, Eph. 5:8-14

Right now we are in this crisis that is evolving day by day, with suggested guidelines and government executive orders changing every aspect of our lives. And I sort of feel like I’m walking blind. There are no modern handbooks on how to be a priest in a pandemic! (There are actually some medieval ones, but I don’t read German or Latin.) So, there are no modern handbooks, and we’re all having to redesign every single part of our daily routine. 

Some of us, especially the extroverts among us, may also be beginning to feel isolated. And we are trying to take to heart that we all need to act as if we are unwitting carriers of the virus, even if we have no symptoms, and are therefore a potential danger to others. But having to think of ourselves constantly as a source of contamination and contagion can have a corrosive effect on our sense of self, and who we are, and on our thoughts about our bodies, and the material world. 

So it’s a very difficult, and rapidly changing situation that we’re facing. Today’s scriptures,  however, tell us several things that we can hold on to in such a time. 

First, our God is faithful to God’s promises and is very creative at figuring out ways to keep those promises, even when our actions take the original plan off track. 

We see this in the Old Testament lesson. If you’re not familiar with the early history of the people of Israel, they had quite informal leadership, prophets and judges, and then they said to God we want a king like all the other nations have. And so God said, ‘Well, alright, if you insist,’ and he had the prophet Samuel anoint Saul as the first king. In part because Saul looked like the TV and TIME magazine cover image of what a king should be like. And so he did pretty well for a while– he was a military leader, he had some successes. But then he didn’t do so well –he started disobeying God’s commandments. It all went to his head and he went, literally, a little bit crazy. And then he was not a good ruler and people began to realize this, and it was causing chaos in the country. 

So God began to put Plan B into effect, by coming up with Saul’s successor, and getting him ready. And so that’s the story that we hear today. Samuel, who had been a close mentor to Saul and is heartbroken that Saul has been told by God, “you’ve lost my favor, you’re no longer my chosen king”–is mourning and grieving.  Then God says, “Look–I have a job for you– you’re going to anoint the next king.” And that’s what happens in today’s reading, with David being anointed. It takes a while for David to actually come into power because of the political situation, with Saul still being alive. But when he does, we then have what’s called the Davidic Covenant. God promises David that God will be with his people and this will be known because an heir of David will always be on the throne in Jerusalem. This is a very crucial piece of our history and our belief, from the Old Testament, and it really begins in today’s lesson. 

So we see that God is remaining faithful to his covenant with Abraham, that God will make a people and God will bless them to be a blessing to others. God is constantly reconfiguring that covenant so that the people can relate to it and it can apply to the current context. So he is setting up the pieces, getting the chess pieces in order, so that he can then put in place a covenant with David and his household to rule over Israel and be instruments of God’s care and God’s reign. 

God can work with it when we mess things up like Saul did, and go off the rails—God can take that and figure out how to save the game and come up with a new strategy. 

And in the Gospel lesson, John’s story of the man born blind . . . . 

Jesus heals the man born blind. Credit: Sweet Media Publishing under CC-SA license

The pressing question that the disciples have isn’t so much about the man’s predicament of being blind. They are interested in the theological debate: “Why is this man blind?” He was blind from birth so he couldn’t have sinned to cause it. Was it his parents sinning that made him blind or was it him sinning in the womb? And that was a matter of theological debate at the time: it was assumed that if you were sick, or if you were disabled, somebody had sinned. And Jesus says, “No, no no, no, no, no, no–you’re asking the wrong question. It’s not because he sinned, it’s not because his parents sinned.” The NRSV and most of the other translations then get the punctuation rather wrong. What the Greek actually says, is “He was born blind. [Period, Full stop. New thought.] So that God’s works might be revealed in him, we must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work.”[i] So Jesus in effect says, ‘He was born blind–that’s just how it was. But here’s an opportunity while it’s still daylight, before the forces of evil have taken me away, here’s an opportunity for me to show God’s glory,’ and he reaches out and he heals the man. The man didn’t even ask to be healed. But Jesus sees who really he really is, sees what his real needs are, sends him to the Pool of Siloam, and he is healed of his blindness. 

And to me this Gospel lesson is a great encouragement to those of us who are in isolation, either because of this current situation, or because of something else. Maybe there’s something that’s going on in our lives, maybe there’s some stigma that we feel, that we sense. Maybe if we have a disability, we always kind of wonder how people look at us. 

This Gospel tells us: we are not in that position of stigma because we’ve sinned. God sees us, and God wants healing and wholeness for us, and God is capable of reaching into that isolation and touching us. Even if in human terms we are having to remain at a six-foot distance, God does not have to. And God can touch us and heal us, and bring us back into the community. The man born blind becomes a disciple and becomes part of the community of Jesus-followers. 

And it’s much more of a community than he had when he was a blind beggar–then some people didn’t even look at him closely enough to be able to distinguish who he really was, to be able to tell if he was the same person after Jesus opened his eyes. All they saw him as was ‘the blind man,’ and when he was no longer blind, they had no way of relating to him. 

But God doesn’t work that way. And God doesn’t get invested in the blame game of ‘Why did this happen? Who made it happen?’ God just says, “I see you in this situation and I reach out to you with healing love. “

In Ephesians, we are reminded by Paul that we are called to be people of light in the midst of darkness. In the midst of the present darkness, I don’t even know what tomorrow is going to bring, and I don’t know where I’m going. But we are called to be people of light, to trust in God’s light, and God’s love. 

In the first several centuries of Christianity the Church grew tremendously. And one of the reasons it grew was that there were several epidemics in cities, in Rome and various other places, in the first couple centuries of Christianity. And the Christians cared for one another, and their families and their neighbors, in a way that no one else did. People looked at them and said, “Look at those Christians! Look how they love one another, and care for one another! What do they have? I want what they have, that enables them to love one another, I want to be a part of a community like that.” 

And so we have a similar opportunity today to show our light to the world. Maybe we have to do it from behind the window panes of our houses or cars. Maybe we can’t do it face to face in the ways that we used to, but there are ways we can be of light and service. 

I’ve tried to brainstorm what some of those ways might be . . .  

Just in the past 24 hours it has become apparent that our medical centers and professionals are in dire need of face masks and other personal protective equipment– the governor has asked for donations. A group of people in this area have decided to make face masks for all of our local hospitals, and I put information about that up on parish Facebook page. At one o’clock today they’re receiving donations of materials at the parking lot of Christ Episcopal Church in Westerly, they’re looking for very finely knit fabrics and binder clips. It’s all on the Facebook posts, what they need. I’m sure they’ll have other collection dates as well.  And people who can sew are going to sew face masks. So look on the Facebook page, look for other information about things like that, if you’re better at sewing than I am–you can be sewing some masks. 

Of course, we can all be praying, every day, for one another in our community, our immediate community, the larger community, the world, our leaders, our public health leaders. 

We can be reaching out to one another with phone calls, texts and FaceTime, not just the official Calvary care phone tree, but also just texting each other, phoning each other, just checking in with each other, seeing how you’re doing. 

We can be supporting those in our circles of influence whose businesses are in dire need because they’ve been closed by the government. If we ourselves have needs, whether physical needs for food or supplies ,or to be taken to the hospital ,or something, it helps the rest of us if you let your needs be known, so that we have the honor of serving you and we can know that we are serving a greater purpose than just sitting in our houses–for those of us who are able to serve.  So, please give us that privilege, if you have a need. 

And please, don’t hoard! In the Lord’s Prayer it says, Give us our daily bread, not two months ‘ worth of bread! Remember the very earliest stories of the Israelites wandering the wilderness when  God said, ‘I’m going to give you a daily ration of manna, and if you try and eat too much it will rot in your hands.’ God says, ‘Trust in me. Do not hoard.’

That’s just some brainstorming of some ways we can be a light to the world and love one another in this situation. 

Last but by no means least, today’s Psalm, the beloved 23rd Psalm . . . 

I think it’s marvelous that the lectionary queued it up today. Of course David was a shepherd, and that’s why it’s in the lectionary. 

But it’s a wonderful psalm of comfort that we can each pray every day, as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death . . . 

“I shall fear no evil, 
for you are with me, 
your rod and your staff, 
they comfort me. 
You spread a table before me 
in the presence of those who trouble me. 
You have anointed my head with oil, 
my cup is running over. 
Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me 
all the days of my life, 
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Amen. 


[i] http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3191. Commentary by Prof. Osvaldo Vena on John 9: 1-41 for Working Preacher website, published for March 26, 2017, accessed March 21, 2020. 

Mountaintop Moments

 

Sermon preached at Calvary Church, Stonington, CT
by the Rev. Gillian R. Barr on the

Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A
Matthew 17:1-9
February 23, 2020

 

Have you ever had a time when things suddenly were going very badly? Perhaps a time when you were laid off from a job, or perhaps a marriage or other close relationship suddenly was very difficult? Maybe an old friendship was fading or suddenly painful. How do you get through such times?

One thing that we can do is look back in our memories to touchstone moments when things were going really well—to really special moments, moments that were almost transcendent in character, when we knew we were where we were supposed to be, doing what we were supposed to do.

Maybe it was when you were first hired at that job, or when you got an award. Maybe it was when you graduated, or received some special honor. Maybe it was when you first fell in love with your partner, and you looked into their eyes and they looked into your eyes and you knew that you are loved and you are held and you are supported in that relationship.

Maybe it was your wedding day. When you made those sacred promises.

Maybe it was when you and your friend had some really good times together and laughed together, and had each other’s backs, and you look back at that relationship.

Those touchstone moments connect you with when you were at your best, your fullest. And when you were sure that you were doing what God would have you do.

When I first started out in ministry, in parish ministry, long before I was ordained, I worked as a lay associate in parishes, and someone gave me the advice,

“Keep a list of your ‘Atta girl!’ moments.  When somebody thanks you for something, not just kind of an automatic thank you but a really special moment, when something went really well in ministry, write it down so that you can remember it, and look back at those moments when things are going not so well.”

So I had this big old 1950s-style wooden desk with all kinds of splinters and whatnot, but it had those side panels that you pull out to write on.  So on one of them, I had a piece of paper taped, “Things they never trained me for in seminary”—and I would list things like “plumbing,” and “HVAC.”

And then on the other one I had my “Atta girl!” list. And when something went really right, when I just felt totally sure that I was doing what God called me to do, I would write that down. So, at the end of Vacation Bible School when the kids were together and they all knew the stories, and everything had worked, and everything felt wonderful, I would write that down. And the next year, while I was deep in the depths of recruiting for Vacation Bible School and it looked like it was never going to come together, I would look at that old item on the list.

When there were other kinds of success moments, I would write them down.

Brené Brown is an author I like very much. She’s an Episcopalian, a lay person, and she writes about how in our vulnerability and our woundedness we can find the courage to lead, and to have integrity, and be who we are called to be.

In some of her writing she talks about our “marble-jar friends.” She has a story about why she uses that term, but basically these are the people who have really stuck by you, have been with you in the hard times, who understand the meaning of what you’re doing, and who have the privilege of giving you criticism that you take seriously, because you know they’re coming from a good space and that they know what you’re really about. And also, those who give you praises.

And then when you’re in a hard spot, you turn to your marble-jar friends for a reality check.

“Did I really mess that up?” (Friends nod) “Oookay.”

But they are the same people who can say “Yes, you messed that up, but you are still amazing, and beloved, and you will get up and walk forward from this space.”

In today’s Gospel story, Jesus takes some of his “marble-jar friends,” Peter and James and John, and they go up the mountain top. And then Jesus is transfigured, and some more of his marble-jar friends (from outside of linear time and space) come, and are with him–Moses and Elijah. They talk with him, and he gets back in touch with how his ministry fulfills the Law and the Prophets.

Then God speaks and says, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

Now, why does the Transfiguration happen when it does?–both in the story of Jesus’s ministry, and where it is in our liturgical year?

It happened when it did, and we remember it when we do, because it marks the turning point from Jesus’s ministry of teaching and preaching and healing to his more focused journey to the cross in Jerusalem. From here on out, it gets very real. And he is headed to pain and suffering and death, and his disciples are going to watch their charismatic leader who they follow lead them to the cross.

And they are going to doubt, and he is going to wonder, certainly, “Am I really doing what God called me to do? Is this what it’s really about?”

But he can look back at that mountaintop moment when God said, “You are my son, the beloved, you get it, you’re on the right track.” “Listen to him, he knows what he’s doing. This is the right track.”

That mountaintop moment would fortify Jesus and his disciples along the way as they go forward, as they confront his arrest, trial, false conviction crucifixion, death, and burial.

In our own faith lives, we have touchstone moments, mountaintop moments, that help us remember how much God loves us.

For me, one of them was a retreat I went on as an undergraduate. That was the first time that I really deeply understood, in my gut, the words I’d been saying all my life, about being a beloved child of God. A God who wanted to know me and walk with me as my friend. Personally, I can still remember what the retreat center looked like: the hideous 1970s avocado carpeting, I can still remember where I went out on the riverbank and journaled about my insights and and my new relationship with God.

It was a mountaintop moment, and that retreat program, that we ran every year, was in fact such a mountaintop moment for so many people, that one of the songs we sang was “We will say that we’ve been to the mountain, and caught a glimpse of all that we could be.”

We have other mountaintop moments–different for each of us. Perhaps for some of us, it’s a quiet experience we had in prayer. Maybe something we can’t even put into words.

For others, it was maybe when someone came to our door with a casserole or some other gift, at a time when we were bereft of the ability to tend for ourselves. Perhaps it is a favorite scripture that we turn to, to remind us of who God is, and God’s promises for us in hard times. Perhaps it is when we have asked for our friends to pray for us, and we’ve learned that not only are they praying for us–for their friends are praying for us, and we feel literally being surrounded and upheld by the prayer of those who love us.

I’m sure each of you has other touchstone moments. I invite you to think about: what are your mountaintop moments or touchstone moments that you go back to?

No matter what paths our journeys have taken, we each have at least two touchstone moments that we can talk about.

Perhaps the most foundational is our baptism. We may not remember, if we were baptized as a tiny baby, but we can remember, by having been at other people’s baptisms what it was like, we can remember the promises, because they are the same promises that we make when we baptize people today. We can remember that we were once held and told that we are a beloved child of God. We were immersed in water, and we were sealed with the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ’s own forever. In an indissoluble bond that nothing can break. We can look back to our baptisms as one of those touchstone moments.

One of the workshops I went to this week in Louisville was about baptism, about how is the core of our Christian life.  The speaker said how of course, in the early church, baptism was a matter of life or death. Because in the early church, if you were accused of being a Christian, you could be put to death. So choosing to be baptized had very great implications. And because of that, you were not just baptized on a whim. You went through up to three years of preparation for baptism, and at least 40 days of preparation in Lent, before you were baptized, at the Easter Vigil.

But the speaker in Kentucky [Dr. Lisa Kimball of Virginia Theological Seminary] said that our baptisms today are still a matter of life and death. Not because we will be taken to the lions if we are accused of being a Christian. Not because we have the same images of hellfire in the back of our minds. But because the promises that we make in baptism are what undergird our life and undergird our ethics, and how we live out our lives. And those actions have implications for other people’s lives and deaths.

We may not be actual murderers, or lifeguards who physically save people’s lives. But how we live in the world, what choices we make, how we spend our money, how we cast our votes, make a difference that can have life and death implications for others. What we say to people, the words of love and life and blessing, or the words of cursing, that we speak to others, can have a life or death impact. And so whether or not we live into, and up to, the promises of our baptism, is still a life or death matter. We can look back to our baptism and remember that we are chosen and claimed by God, as God’s beloved child.

Another touchstone moment that we can avail ourselves of every single week is the Eucharist. When we come forward to this altar rail, and receive the bread and the wine made Body and Blood, we take God into our selves, into our very cellular structures. God wants to be that close to us. God has given us His very self as a sign of His love, and draws us closer to him, and gradually draws us more and more into His likeness, through the Eucharist. And that too, can be a touchstone for those days when life is not going well, when we’re not sure who we are or if we are on the right path. We can come and lay all of our angst and our insecurities at the altar, and receive that promise and that sustenance anew.

And Christ, who is the Beloved of God, says to us: We “are the beloved of God.”

Listen to him!


 

If you’d rather listen to the sermon than read it:

 

 

 

“…. but I say to you ….”

Below is a PDF of my sermon on the texts for the Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany: Matthew 5:21-37 and Deuteronomy 30:15-20 (Scripture texts here.)

Sermon text: Epiphany 6 A Feb 16 2020

(I did not preach from a manuscript, so the first version of the transcript was created by the recording app. Then I edited it slightly to make it easier to understand as a written text rather than a spoken address, and clarified a few verbal stumbles.)

Here is the audio recording.

 

“You are called!” January 26, 2020: 3rd Sunday after Epiphany, Yr A

Sermon from yesterday, Sunday January 26, 2020, the 3rd Sunday after the Epiphany. Text was Matthew 4:12-23.
Listen here:

Referred to in sermon:

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Scripture: Mt. 4:12-23
When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah  [the first Reading for today] might be fulfilled:

“Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,
on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—

the people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light,

and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death
light has dawned.”

From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.

“What are you seeking?” Sermon on January 19, 2020: Annual Meeting Sunday/2nd Sunday after the Epiphany, Yr A

Here is my sermon from LAST week. The text was John 1:29-42.  Listen here:

John 1:29-42:
John saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”

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.

When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.”

They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).

Featured image: photo by Neil Williamson.