Church of England Diocese of Manchester Bury (St. Mary)

Rector's Thoughts on this week's Readings

Come and see (John 1.43-51)

In the Pixar film Wall-E, planet earth has become polluted. Humans live on space ships whilst robots work to clear up our mess. Stuck in weightlessness, humans lose muscle tone and become dependent on machines to move around. It is a highly dystopian and disturbing vision (but a great film!). Over this Lockdown period, that sense of losing our natural instinct to move around is something we might recognise. At one point, you may remember, the Government even told us to get out and exercise.

St John reminds us that to be a disciple of Jesus, we need to exercise, we need to move. Scattered across his gospel are the words “Come and see”. Jesus invites disciples of John the Baptist to see where he is staying, Philip cajoles his buddy Nathaniel to get off his backside to look at Jesus and Mary the sister of Lazarus pressures Jesus to visit his grave. both physical and spiritual.

Coming and seeing is physical because sometimes we need to relocate to understand. Being told about a waterfall, a painting, a new child is not the same as standing in front of the reality for ourselves. That change of position can nudge us from a place of comfort to a place of fresh perspective. Yes, I can pray at home. I have done lots of that. But praying in church, on a hilltop, on a walk, in front of the Blessed Sacrament allows God to find me in new ways. I experience the world differently when I am in a different place.

Coming and seeing is a spiritual thing, too. When John uses the word “see” he doesn’t just mean with his physical eyes. He means with the inner eye of the heart. “Seeing God” is about seeing the world, seeing our own lives, as God sees it. We sometimes talk about the life of a disciple as a life undergoing transformation. This movement of “come and see” is part of our discipleship journey. It’s not ‘come and sit here, you’ve arrived’. It’s ‘come here, and pause for a while, before moving on to a new place, where God can speak a new word’. Let’s come and see this year.