man in a van with a mobile phone

What are you looking for?


Epiphany 2A2023
John 1:29-42

Two of John the Baptist’s disciples hear John declare: Look, here is the Lamb of God! Seeing Jesus walk by and hearing John’s words, they follow Jesus. When Jesus turns around and sees them following, he asks: What are you looking for? They don’t answer the question. Instead, they say: Rabbi, where are you staying? To which Jesus replies: Come and see.

You may have noticed several different titles are used for Jesus in this reading. Lamb of God, the one who takes away the sin of the world. Son of God, the one who enjoys a special relationship with God. Rabbi, the teacher whose wise words give life. Messiah, the one who saves. Are the disciples of John, who will later become disciples of Jesus, looking for the Lamb of God, the son of God, a rabbi, a messiah, or something or someone else? We never know because they never say.

Not that we blame them. We understand. What are you looking for? It’s not an easy question to answer. Sure, these would-be disciples are literally following Jesus, so maybe it should be easier for them. But here we are at church on a Sunday morning when we really could be anywhere else. We could be drinking coffee in our pj’s. We could be watching the news with our feet up. We could be meeting a friend for brunch. We could be puttering around our garden or our woodshop or hanging out with our kids or grandkids. We could be on a beach right now. But we’re not. We’re here, tending the livestream and running the powerpoint, reading scripture and setting up Holy Communion. We’re here learning the names of strangers and taking old friends into our arms, actively contemplating participating in the Habitat for Humanity house construction and the Lutheran Day at the Legislature. We’re here standing up and sitting down, and standing up and sitting down, singing and praying, listening to the word of God and sharing the peace of Christ. Coffee drinking will come next along with a question and answer session on the 2023 proposed mission plan. We could be doing anything this morning, but we’re at church. What the heck are we looking for?

Whatever the would-be disciples of Jesus are looking for, they sense they will find it by following him. And perhaps that is true for us too. Whatever we are looking for, we sense we will find it by following Jesus.

As we ask ourselves this question What are we looking for? It’s okay if our answer isn’t: God. Maybe we’re not looking for God. Maybe we’re looking for forgiveness or freedom. Maybe we’re looking for joy or wisdom. Maybe we’re looking for relationships or a community. Maybe we’re looking for ways to serve, ways to contribute to the common good. What are we looking for?

I think that most people are looking for something, seeking something, itching to have or be or do something. Even if we are seeking simply to be comfortable or to have our life not change, we are all in pursuit of something, something that gets us up in the morning, something that motivates our actions day to day. What’s that thing for you?

I invite you to turn to someone sitting near you and to share what you’re seeking—and to listen to what your conversation partner is seeking. If you happen to talk with someone whose name of which you are not absolutely certain, please introduce yourself first. The Esperanza community shared with one another.

Maybe you don’t know what you’re looking for, and that’s okay. The would-be disciples of Jesus don’t know either in today’s gospel. Jesus is the one who asks them the question, and notice Jesus does not give them the answer—even though we assume he knows. Jesus knows what they’re seeking. When the disciples ignore Jesus’ question, turn the tables, and instead ask Jesus where’s he staying, Jesus goes along with it and responds: Come and see. It’s okay that the disciples don’t have an answer. They can just come and see where Jesus is staying, where Jesus is going, where Jesus will lead them.

So too for us. Perhaps individually we aren’t clear what we are seeking these days. Perhaps as a community we aren’t clear. We are, of course, in a time of transition here at Esperanza. We probably all have ideas of where we think Esperanza should go as a community. We are probably all seeking something slightly different for this community. And today, Jesus and his would-be disciples teach us that we don’t have to have it all figured out. It scares me to say it because I like clarity, but this is honestly what I learn from the gospel. We don’t need to know exactly what we’re seeking in order to put one foot in front of the other. We don’t need to know what we’re seeking because in following Jesus, we will be led to whatever we really need.

We may not know where we’re going, what we’re seeking, but if we’re following Jesus, we will absolutely find it! Thanks be to God! Amen.


Photo by Norma Mortenson at Pexels