Monday, January 19, 2015

Our Message to the World: Come and See

There is no text for this sermon--just some brief points below. Audio of the sermon from the 5pm service can be heard here.

Have you ever met someone who was burned by the church? Ever known someone whose church failed him or her in a moment of deep need? Ever heard a story about someone who was told, "You should have prayed harder?" Ever heard someone say to you, "These kinds of things don't happen to people whose faith is strong enough?"

Lots and lots and lots of people have been burned by the church. They are absolutely justified in thinking that the church has nothing to offer them. No one should dispute their pain or its source. When someone from the church tries to reach out to them and invite them back, their response makes sense: "Can anything good come out of the church?"

But this Sunday's gospel lesson has some hope for them.

When Philip said to Nathaniel, "We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth!" Nathaniel's response was, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" And what was Philip's invitation? Come and see.

Evangelism is about connection. It isn't about telling someone the whole story. It isn't about relating the gospel to the unchurched in a way that makes them fall down on their knees and give their heart to Jesus. Evangelism is about helping people make positive, loving connections with God and with the Christian community. Our words to those who have been hurt by the church shouldn't be argumentative or combative or excuse-ridden. When they tell us that they don't expect to find anything worth hearing or believing in the church, we should simply say, "Come and see."

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