The Lamb of God
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! 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 First Disciples of JesusJohn 1:29-42 (NRSV)
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).
This week’s scripture has several connections for us. Last week, we heard the story of Jesus’ baptism from the gospel of Matthew. In the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, we hear the same story of what happened that day at the Jordan River. Jesus appeared at the shore. John tried to tell Jesus that he was not worthy to baptize him. Jesus reassured John that he was indeed enough. John baptized Jesus. The heavens opened, and a dove appeared. A voice from heaven said, “You are My Son, the Beloved, in whom I am well pleased.”
But today, we hear John’s rendition of the story, and he tells it much differently—this time, through the eyes of John the Baptist. And to add even more to our stories of baptism today, we baptized little Cora, and welcomed her into the family of God, creating yet another wonderful story of baptism.
Friends, I wonder, how many of you remember your baptism day? You may remember it because you were older when you were baptized. Or you maybe have seen pictures of the day. But most likely, you’ve been told the story of what happened that day by a family member or a friend. I hope that is true for many of you because the story of our baptism is important. It tells of the first step in our faith journey. That’s why we give a baptismal candle to the children baptized here in Oldtown so that their families will remember to share the story of their baptism with them.
So, if you have never heard the story of your baptism before, ask someone that might have been there. Find out, did you wear something special? Who was there? Where were you baptized? Did you have Godparents? Did you cry? What made the day extra special? And if you remember being at someone else’s baptism, share the story with them.
Friends, the truth is, many times we hold onto information not thinking that it is very important, but when we say something and share it, we often make a difference in the lives of others.
I don’t know about you, but I found today’s’ scripture reading very interesting because in the gospel of John, we are often told stories with a little bit of a twist. John’s stories are often different from the other gospels, which is great because they give us a varied insight into what happened.
And the truth is the stories that each of us carries in our hearts, whether they be Biblical stories, or family stories, or stories that we have read or seen on tv. We always put a piece of ourselves into them, without even realizing it. So, we all tell the story a little differently.
Usually, when we think of the story of the call of the disciples, we picture Jesus at the seashore saying to a bunch of fishermen, “Come follow me and I’ll make you fishers of men.” (Actually, we’re going to hear that story next week!) In the gospel of John, the disciples begin to follow Jesus not because Jesus invites them to, but they follow him after hearing someone else talk about Him. Andrew follows Jesus after hearing John talk about him. Then Andrew tells his brother about Jesus, and Simon Peter follows. Friends, sometimes our words and the things that we say carry far more power and influence than we think because people are always listening.
Here in Oldtown, it is important for us to have all ages in worship because even though our young ones may not understand everything that happens in worship, through what they experience they learn the rhythm of worship. They hear the stories of our faith. They sing and pray and pass the peace, and in all of those experiences, they begin to create their own stories of church and faith, hopefully learning and knowing that they are always welcomed and loved unconditionally.
Believe me, they are always watching and listening, so we need to be very careful to always model good behavior. Whether we are here in the sanctuary, out in Maxcy Hall, having conversations in the parking lot, or talking about church in the car on the way home!
And it’s not just in church that people are listening. If you have ever been in line at the grocery store or at the bank, you hear stories of all kinds. Or if you’ve ever been at the gym or at a sporting event, you definitely hear all kinds of stories. But just remember, people hear your stories too.
Here in Oldtown, evangelism isn’t usually something that many of us feel called to. We are not outspoken about our faith, and we don’t often preach about it to our friends or the people we meet. But folks, each time that you talk about something that you did here at church, people listen. Each time you get excited about a celebration, or a mission project, or something that we are working on as a congregation, and you tell someone about it, other people listen.
But they also listen when you complain, and when you gossip, and when you speak poorly of others. Friends, every week when we go out into the world, we have a choice. We can get caught up in the negativity and judgment of the world, or we can work to make the world a better place.
In our storybook today, we learned the importance of saying something. We can bring the light of Christ out into the world, not preaching at others or telling them what to do, but by just being ourselves and using our gifts, the individual gifts that God gave each one of us. Just as John’s gospel tells a different story than the others, we each have a different story to share as well. And friends, as today’s storybook told us, the world needs your story and your voice!
So, brothers and sisters in Christ, as you go out into your busy week ahead, say something. With your words. With your art. With your poetry. With your courage, or simply with your presence. God created you with amazing gifts to share and stories to tell. So go out and say something. Telling your story as you inspire others to tell their stories as well!
My friends, may it be so. Thanks be to God, Amen!