This gospel story reminds me that it's never been easy to recognize Jesus as God's Messiah. It takes a willingness to imagine God in new ways. John the Baptist's role was to prepare Jesus' way, but even in the midst of John's proclamation he said to his disciples, "I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel."
Do you think that most people would recognize Jesus in the life and witness of our congregations? Do our actions as organizations as well as individual members reveal Jesus to the world?
One of the congregations in my area holds monthly theological conversations in a bar, and invites any adult to their "Theology on Tap" meet-ups. Friends bring friends in a relaxed social atmosphere; it's a low-threat way to introduce people to discussions of faith and life.
It's just one way that pastors and lay leaders are trying to move Christian communities out of our sanctuaries and back out into the world, a world we believe our Lord loves.
Give us courage, O God, to be instruments of your kingdom in ways that reach out beyond our walls and into the world you have redeemed. Amen.
john 1:29-42 (NRSV)
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, "Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
30 This is he of whom I said, "After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.'
31 I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel."
32 And John testified, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him.
33 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.'
34 And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God."
35 The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples,
36 and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, "Look, here is the Lamb of God!"
37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.
38 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?"
39 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.
40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.
41 He first found his brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated Anointed ).
42 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).