Where do you stay?
Schools were integrated, but the town was not. Classmates from the other side of the tracks would ask, “Where do you stay?”
May have been on to something, because where we “stay” matters a great deal.
Word play going on here in this unusual conversation between Jesus and John’s disciples: John has just told them, “Yesterday, God showed me who Jesus is – the Lamb of God.”
So, his disciples follow Jesus. Jesus turns to them and asks a strange question, “What are you looking for?”
These are the first words Jesus speaks in the Gospel of John: “What are you looking for?”
Not “What do you want?” or “Why are you following me?”
But “What are you looking for?”
Then the disciples answer Jesus’ question with a strange question, “Where are you staying?”
What they are looking for, what they seek, is not so much the information of the teacher, but a chance to get to know him. The word we translate as “staying” refers to the source of one’s life and meaning.
So when these disciples ask Jesus, “Where are you staying?” they are asking, “What is it that sustains you? What power do you have? Where do you remain? Where do you live? How do you live? Who are you really? Where do you stay?”
It’s the same word used in John later, over in chapter 15, when we are told we are to abide in Christ. Abide, stay, remain, reside, dwell….
These disciples want a teacher, but more than that, they want a relationship. Then comes Jesus’ answer, Jesus’ invitation: “Come and See.” Jesus invites them to journey with him and hang out a while.
John says, “They remained with him that day.”
A careful listener would notice the repeated use of “remain” and “stay” in this passage:
The Spirit “remained” with Jesus;
God said, “The one on whom the spirit remains….”;
where are you “staying”;
they came and saw where he was “staying”;
they “remained” with him;
The Greek word is meno, “m-e-n-o”. It is sometimes translated “abide” and is used over 40 times in the Gospel of John. Meno is about relationship, being together with God, being sure of a future with God, experiencing a real connection to God.
Where we stay – where we are connected to God – informs how we live our lives. Where we “stay” is critically important.
This is Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend. We know where he ‘stayed’: he stayed in the place of equal rights for all; he stayed in the place of ‘love overcoming hate and light driving out darkness.’
I opened the Standing Committee meeting this week with this quote from MLK:
“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that.
“We must meet hate with creative love. Love is the most durable power in the world. Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend. The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.”
Jesus stood for LOVE and for justice.
And what was Jesus’ answer to the question, “Where are you staying?”
“Come and see.”
They “went and saw” and then left there telling others, “We have found the Messiah!”
I wonder what would happen if we slowed down long enough to ask ourselves, “What are we looking for?” and then accepted Jesus’ invitation to “Come and See.”
This is the season of The Epiphany, the time in the church year when we hear and see more and more about who Jesus is as revealed in scripture…. Jesus - God manifest, Incarnate, in our presence.
In this season, “Where do we stay?”
“What are we looking for?”
If we don’t know what we are looking for, how will we recognize it when we find it???
We must know where we “stay” for that will be our anchor in this tumultuous, divisive times. Know where you stay and out of that relationship with God, let that foundation of love and justice inform your words and your decisions in 2020.
S- Epiphany 2020
It is the obligatory “If the Wise Men Had Been Women” joke:
What would have happened if it had been three Wise Women instead of three Wise Men?
They would have asked directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole, and brought practical gifts – diapers, wipes, and a variety of Johnson and Johnson products!
Today is the Eve of the Epiphany – The day we recall the Wise Guys following a star to discover the Incarnation of God. An epiphany is an eye-opening experience; something that gets our attention in a new way.
In an article published in the Huffington Post, the writer says:
Taking that step to live out your epiphany is when real transformation happens.
These are eight epiphanies everyone should have.
1. You aren't what people say you are.
What matters most is what you say and feel about yourself. You get to choose, you can let others define you and tell you who you are or you can show them who you are. Be you. The world needs you as you are.
2. Plan B is often better than Plan A.
The most freeing moment in your life is when you let go of what you think is best for you and allow the universe to show you what you really need. Stop holding on to what is no longer working: that job, that relationship, that dream. If it feels like hard work and is causing you more pain than gain, it is time to release it. Instead, follow your heart.
3. You are not the number on the scale.
At the end of your life the weight struggles, the food wars, or the obsession with new diets and trying to look a certain way will have no relevance. The only thing that matters is what is in your heart. How you make people feel and how you make YOU feel is more important than how you look.
4. The journey is more important than the goal.
Yes, reaching goals are important, but the actual process of becoming, growing, learning, and morphing into who we need to become is the real sweet stuff that makes a wonderful life. Enjoy the journey as much as the reward.
5. Being alone doesn't mean you will be lonely.
The fear of being alone strikes the heart and makes many people settle. But when you learn to love your own company, you will see that you are never really lonely.
6. It will never be all done.
The to-do lists, the chores, the things we race around to get done, will never be done. It is called life. Situations, chores, to do lists will always unfold. Instead of focusing on the end result, be in the process and celebrate what you have accomplished.
7. Emotional pain shows up to show us what we need to change.
Sadness, depression, and heartache are gentle reminders to probe deeper into our life. Look at what is not working and be open to living your life in new ways. You will see that one day it will all make sense.
8. You don't have to find your purpose, it will find you.
The transition period between where you were and where you are going can be painful on your journey of finding purpose. Recognize that there is purpose in the pain. Each step you take is helping you carve out more of who you really are. Instead of regretting or resisting, try turning inwards and embrace the journey into joy.
In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol that many enjoy watching during the Advent and Christmas season, the main character, Scrooge, experiences an epiphany. Scrooge begins the novel as a pessimistic, harsh man who has no sympathy for other people. On Christmas Eve, he is led through the past, present, and future by three ghosts who show him the effects his attitude has on people he loves. As a result of this journey, Scrooge has an epiphany that he no longer wants to live life in this manner and changes his outlook.
In this example, the sudden realization the character had was simply to treat others with kindness and gratitude.
An epiphany is the sudden awareness or realization that a character gains through an experience. Many times, the character’s epiphany leads to a positive growth in the character’s life.
Epiphanies do not have to be some earthshattering experiences, but small insights or changes of heart.
We are people of HOPE – the Magi followed the star, filled with hope of finding God’s incarnation – a Savior born for all people!
The first gift the magi gave was the gift of their attention; their reverence; their worship. The first gift they gave was their hearts.
On this Epiphany, let us re-dedicate our hearts to Jesus.
Let us worship and adore him.
Let us set our sights on loving God by our worship and our service.
In doing so, we will live in the Epiphany the whole year long – because as one of my mentor’s said: “What you focus on will grow.”
A cartoon posted by David Carpenter on Facebook showed two creatures. One asks the other, "Why so optimistic about 2020? What do you think it will bring? Everything is so messed up." And the other one says, "I think it will bring flowers." And the first asks, "Yes? How come?" And the second one aswers, "Because I am planting flowers."
What you focus on will grow!
I believe 2020 will be a challenging year, but I also believe it will be a year marked by courage, hope and love.
Let us all embody courage, hope, and love.
Be the Incarnation of God’s love everywhere your journey takes you.