Hope Lutheran Church, Fosston, MN
January 16, 2011/Epiphany 2
In the name of Jesus. Amen.
Don’t point—it makes people uncomfortable. Good manners. Good advice.
- John the Baptist points out Jesus, points his followers to Jesus….
- and his followers (after spending time with Jesus) go out and start pointing others to Jesus.
- Those who were pointed to Jesus now themselves become pointers.
And in fact, that’s what is happening here. Moreover, this very same chain reaction of Jesus-pointing is what has brought you and me here this morning.
I am here with you, a brother in Christ, because someone pointed me to Jesus: Lawrence and Roberta (my parents), when I was just a little baby, brought me to Jesus, washed me with Jesus, and kept pointing me to Jesus, pushing me to hang out with Jesus, so that I can’t imagine life without Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
And hasn’t something like that happened to each of you, too? I doubt that you got yourselves here entirely under your own power—it didn’t just dawn on you out of the clear blue.
No, someone pointed out Jesus to you, someone took you by the shoulders, literally pointed you toward Jesus, and nudged you in the right direction, to abide with Jesus, spend time with Jesus, get so caught up with Jesus that you’ve now become a pointer, too.
This all makes sense, even though we Lutherans haven’t always put it quite this way.
Because, truth be told, we Lutherans have tended to be setters more than pointers. (Excuse the dog pun!)
We Lutherans have tended toward a pretty passive, “sitting” role in this chain reaction. Here in North America we’ve counted on waves of immigrants to grow our church, and then waves of Lutheran babies who were born in the homes of all those immigrants….and we’ve been carried forward by the momentum that they created for many years.
It all seemed so automatic, it all just sort of happened. We were setters (or “sitters”) more than pointers….but no more.
Immigration and reproduction no longer carry us forward. We Lutheran “setters” are discovering our calling to become “pointers,” like John the Baptist. Thank God, we’re getting caught up in the chain reaction that started when John spied Jesus coming his way, when John lifted up his bony finger, pointed away from himself, pointed toward Jesus, taking his own closest friends, his intimates, taking them by the shoulders and pointing them to Jesus.
Can you teach an old dog new tricks, though? I think you can. We Lutheran setters can become Lutheran pointers, in fact it’s happening all around us in this 21st century mission field called North America.
And if that unnerves you, if that scares you, to think about heading out into the world and boldly pointing others toward Jesus, perhaps you need to take baby steps at first.
Look at Andrew. He didn’t do cold-calling on strangers. He shanghaied his next of kin, his brother, who became the prince of the apostles. “Peter, you gotta meet this guy—we think he’s God’s anointed one. Come and see!”
The mission field starts right inside your home. My friend David Anderson of Vibrant Faith Ministries likes to say that the prayer that is prayed most often in today’s Lutheran church is: “Dear God, please get my grandchildren to church!”
If you pray that prayer (or something like it), let that prayer take you somewhere you may not have traveled before. Let that prayer lead you to set aside your good manners and do some pointing.
Here, let’s try it right now. Take your finger, stretch it out, and point it.
First, point it away from yourself as a reminder that you are not God.
And then point your finger toward Jesus.
And as you do so, start imagining how you could take some precious child or grandchild or brother or sister—take them by the shoulders and point them toward Jesus, the way Andrew did with his own blood-kin Peter.
Point someone to Jesus. And, I guarantee you, neither of you will be disappointed.
In the name of Jesus. Amen.