Sunday, July 07, 2013

Come and See

Reviewing the call accounts of the disciples this morning, I realize again how remarkable it is that Jesus' invitation to "Follow me" was so compelling that Peter and Andrew immediately left their nets to follow him before encountering James and John who leave their nets, their boat and their father behind in order to follow Jesus. This call is the one recorded in Matthew, Mark and Luke. There is little dialogue between Jesus and the disciples - just a leaving behind.

 I've found that my call is a bit more like the one recorded in the Gospel of John where Jesus has to keep encouraging the prospective disciples to "come and see." Each step leads to a closer bond between Jesus and the men. They keep questioning but Jesus keeps saying, "Come and see." It is one step at a time, with something left at each step.

I'm spending my summer in response to this invitation of "come and see" as I seek to engage more deeply with Jesus. We started on the Isle of Iona, a place George MacLeod, the founder of the Iona Community described as being a "thin place" where "only a tissue paper" separated the spiritual from the material. Our journey to Iona took a plane ride to Glasgow, a three-hour train ride to Oban, a 45 minute ferry to Mull, a one hour bus ride across Mull and then a 10 minute ferry ride. The journey was a response to "come and see" in and of itself!

We then continued to "come and see" as we made our way around the isle. We climbed mountains to watch the sunset, clung to the side of a cliff to make it into a cave, wandered until we found Puffins, gathered rocks near the sea, gazed at cattle and sheep eating their fill of food, sat in the ancient abbey for morning and evening prayer, and marveled at the dozens of pilgrims getting off the ferry each day. It was a journey that stretched us physically as well as spiritually. Craig and I did things we don't normally do, stepping out of our comfort zones.

While on Iona, I picked up a book, "Around a Thin Place." It is a guide for those wanting to take a pilgrimage around the isle, something that is offered by the community weekly. The book starts by describing what it means to set out in the first place. Dom Helder Camara writes,

"Setting out is first of all getting out of oneself. Breaking through the shell of selfishness hardening us within our own ego. 

To stop revolving round ourself as if we were the centre of everything. 

Refusing to be ringed in by the problems of our own small world. However important these may be, humanity is more important and our task is to serve humanity.

Setting out is not covering miles of land or sea, or travelling faster than the speed of sound. It is first and foremost opening ourselves to other people, trying to get to know them."

Camara then described how this task also means getting to know people who disagree with you, "Happy are they who understand the words: 'If you disagree with me, you have something to give me.'"

He then continues, "If those who are with you always agree with you before you open your mouth, they are not companions but shadows.

When disagreement is not a form of systematic blocking, when it rises from a different vision, it can only enrich us."

Camara next writes how one can journey alone but how a good traveller always understands that the journey is "human life and life needs company...Happy are they who feel they are always on the road and everyone they meet is their chosen companion."

I believe Jesus knew the gift of pilgrimage - that he is the first author and teacher of what is written in this essay. Jesus found a companion in most people on the road. He was rarely bothered by a disruption even when he was on his way. He saw the gift of disagreement and kept on extending an invitation whether it was a woman at the well who could not figure out why he was talking to her or an encounter with Zacchaeus who wondered the same thing. Jesus knew that we rarely grow when we are surrounded by people who are just like us.

And Jesus always knew that life is better when spent in community. While he took time to be alone and get away from the crowds to recenter himself on God, he knew that his best work was done with the company of twelve ordinary men who were willing to leave behind their past and embrace the future with Jesus.

What would it look like for us to reclaim these teachings and embody them daily - to see each person as a gift, to embrace community whether we have chosen it or not, to let go of ourselves - what we hold most deeply (our agendas, our schedules, our time, our stuff, our success, our failure, our goals, our power, our prestige) in order to see the new thing God might be doing in our lives?

What would it look like to be so selfless that we can always see the needs of others in our midst?

What do we need to leave behind in order to more faithfully follow this day?

Towards the end of his writing, Camara states "To travel for the sake of travelling is not the true journey. We must seek a goal, envision an end to the journey, an arrival."

The goal of my journey is more of God in my life. I want to be formed and reformed, shaped and reshaped. I want to let go of me so I can accept more of Jesus' life within me. I want to step out into familiar and unfamiliar territory - to "come and see" what God is doing in my life and especially in the lives of others near and far. I want to be more ready to serve all with needs in my midst - those who I know and those who are waiting to be known.

I'm ready to go deeper - stepping out in unfamiliar territory.

No comments: