Tuesday, 25 August 2015

‘Come and see’ … a glimpse of new
life and new hope in the summer rain

A glimpse of summer through the rain and thunderstorms … sunflowers on a roof garden in London (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

Patrick Comerford

I spent a long working day in London yesterday [24 August 2015] at meetings in the offices of Us (the new name for the Anglican mission agency USPG), discussing trusteeship, governance and corporate responsibility in the charity sector and the relevant legislation.

Even in a busy, working part of south London, surrounded by commercial and industrial buildings, busy railway tracks, hotels and building sites, there were glimpses of the attractions of ‘tourist’ London with a sight of the London Eye, and glimpses of summer through the August rain and thunder showers with a roof garden displaying bright blooming sunflowers immediately below the room where we were meeting.

The London Eye in the distance … through the rain, the towers and the cranes (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

We opened with prayer, and as Monday was Saint Bartholomew’s Day our Gospel reading (John 1: 43-51) was the story of the calling of Nathanael, who is generally said to be the same disciple as Bartholomew:

43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me.’ 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.’ 46 Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’ 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming towards him, he said of him, ‘Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!’ 48 Nathanael asked him, ‘Where did you come to know me?’ Jesus answered, ‘I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.’ 49 Nathanael replied, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’ 50 Jesus answered, ‘Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.’ 51 And he said to him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.’

The reading missed the two immediate verses where Andrew goes to find his brother Simon. If we read from verses 41 to 51, then we have the story of Andrew who brings his brother Simon to Jesus, and Philip who calls Nathanael. In the fist instance, a man with a Greek name calls his brother who has a Hebrew name; on the second case, a new disciple with a Greek name calls his friend with a Hebrew name.

In other words, from the beginning, the Gospel tells us Christ breaks down the barriers between Jew and Greek or between Jew and Gentile, ethnic , social and cultural divisions are torn down by Christ from the very beginning, and this task is one of the first demands in mission.

But this passage also tells us that mission cannot be about personal faith in Christ if it is not also about mission in community. There is no individual faith without collective faith, and there is no community experience of faith without personal commitment too.

Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God,
who gave to your apostle Bartholomew grace
truly to believe and to preach your Word:
Grant that your Church
may love what he believed
and preach what he taught; through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Praying and talking about mission in the offices of Us (the new name for USPG) in London yesterday (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

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