Saturday, January 14, 2017

Sing a New Song

Two days in a row, as Jesus comes walking down to the River Jordan, John turns to us and says,
“Look, here is the lamb of God.”

Day one, John testifies: I saw the Spirit descend upon him like a dove and rest upon him. I was told that when I saw the Lamb of God and the Spirit rests upon him that it is the Son of God.

Day two, two disciples upon hearing John declare that Jesus is the Lamb of God, two of his disciples, John’s disciples, begin to follow Jesus. After a while Jesus turns and asks, “What are you looking for?” They reply, “Where are you staying?” Jesus says, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying and remained there for the day. It was four o’clock.

John the Evangelist does this. He is always paying attention to the time. Later when Pilate takes Jesus outside before the judgment seat, John tells us it is noon the day of preparation for the Passover. The busiest day of the year. The day when everyone is out gathering all the necessities for the Passover meal – principally, a Lamb. A lamb to be sacrificed. A Lamb of God. At noon, the day of Preparation, Pilate sets The Lamb of God before the judgment seat. In Greek it is Amnos tou Theou; Latin it is Agnus Dei.

For Passover it is the paschal lamb, slaughtered, so the blood may be spread above the door of the household in Egypt so that God will “pass over” that house to allow the Hebrew children to escape the Empire of Pharaoh, the Empire of brutality, the Empire of the consolidation of goods, food and power.

Two of John’s disciples want to stay with The Lamb of God – and one of them, Andrew, goes to tell his brother, Simon. They are sons of Jonah who is a fisherman. I believe that’s meant to make us laugh. Jonah a fisherman. The jokes just keep on coming. Simon will now be re-named by Jesus Cephas, Aramaic for Rock – which in Greek is Petros from which we get Peter. Peter, the most doubting and difficult of The Twelve becomes Rock – the Rock upon which I will build my church. That’s meant to make us laugh too. Peter who loses focus and begins to sink beneath the surging sea. But that becomes his baptism, for indeed he goes on to be a leader in the early church in Jerusalem.

So when we are through laughing, it is meant to dawn on us: If Peter can be the Rock of Christ’s Church, so can we! As we pray this day, if we allow ourselves to be illumined by Word and Sacrament we too shall shine with the radiance of God’s glory. As Isaiah proclaims, we shall become a light to the nations! That God’s salvation shall reach to the end of the earth!

Which seems as impossible to believe as it must have been to Peter when he is chosen and named to be the Rock of the Church, the Rock of the Lamb of God.

The Lamb of God who comes to teach anyone who will follow him and stay with him a new song. This Lamb of God knows well the vision laid out in Psalm 40: I waited patiently upon the Lord, he stooped down and heard my cry; he lifted me up out of the mire and clay. He set my feet upon a high cliff, and made my footing sure. He put a new song in my mouth.

We are to sing, sing this new song. For singing is our original form of communication. It is what we did long before speaking. The Lamb of God wants us to sing a new song for a world that is mired down with feet of clay to proclaim that he comes to lift us up and make our footing sure. He will set us upon a rock: the Rock, Petros, Cephas shall be our example.

If we begin to doubt our qualifications, we need only listen to Paul as he addresses the church in Corinth – a church in turmoil, a church divided, a church lacking in discipline. He begins his correspondence to this unruly band of early Christians by reminding them, “…you are not lacking in any spiritual gift…” We have what we need. More importantly, we have the Lamb of God on our side, setting us on a sure footing, giving us as light to the world, the whole world God holds in God’s hands. Most importantly, Jesus the Lamb of God call us not to become him, or Peter, or John, or Paul, but to just be ourselves.

Rabbi Zusya, an eighteenth century Hasidic rabbi, summed it up for his disciples just a short while before his death: "In the world to come I shall not be asked, 'Why were you not Moses?' Instead I shall be asked, 'Why were you not Zusya?'" [Martin Buber, The Way of Man, (Citadel Press, NY:1966) p.17] Reflecting on this story, Martin Buber says, “Every person born into this world represents something new, something that never before existed, something original and unique. It is the duty of every person ... to know and consider that he or she is unique in the world in his or her particular character, and that there has never been anyone like him in the world. Every single person is a new thing in the world, and is called upon to fulfill his or her particularity in the world. ... Everyone has in him or her something precious that is in no one else."

Know, my sisters and brothers, little by little – it takes time – Jesus will reveal to you how unique you are - that you are the way and the light. He calls you to follow him so that you may do something beautiful with your life and bear much fruit. The world needs you, the Church needs you, Jesus needs you. They need your Love and your Light. There is a hidden place in your heart where Jesus lives. This is a deep secret you are called to live. Let Jesus live in you. Let your light shine! Sing a new song! You are not lacking in any spiritual gift! You are the way others will come to know the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

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