Many of us are familiar with the scene of Jesus walking along the shoreline calling fishermen to follow him. Among those fishermen was a man named Simon who Jesus renamed Peter–the rock, the person Jesus will use as a foundation for his church. The gospel of John has tells the story of Peter’s call a bit differently, however. John 1:40-41 says, “One of the two disciples who heard what John (the baptist) said and followed Jesus was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. He found his own brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah.’ Andrew lead Simon to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon, son of John. You will be called Cephas (which is translated Peter).'”
As I ponder the account from the Gospel of John, I am struck by a few things in it. First, Jesus doesn’t seek out Simon Peter. Second, Simon Peter has an open mind and heart. Third, it answers a question I’ve always had with the version from Matthew’s account, “why did Simon drop everything to follow Jesus when he didn’t even know who he was?” In John’s telling, Simon Peter first put his trust in his brother Andrew. The way John describes it, Andrew lead his brother to Jesus. Andrew said, “we’ve been spending time with this fellow Jesus, and we are convinced he must be the messiah.”
Some people do have a spiritual experience where they kind of meet Jesus out of the blue–a vision, or a dream. Most of us, however, have had someone like Andrew, someone we already trust, invite us to trust Jesus. For me it was a Sunday School teacher, my parents, a college professor, a pastor and a handful of writers. Many of the times I’ve found myself growing in the faith, it’s been because someone I trust invites me to see faith or be faithful in a new way.
Who has been your Andrew leading you into Jesus presence? When have you been Andrew for another? Who trusts you that may be struggling right now? Perhaps it’s your chance to say, “Jesus helps me navigate life. I’d love to have you come with me to the place where I feel closest to him.”
“I’ve put my Spirit upon him to bring justice to the nations. He won’t cry out or shout aloud… . He won’t break a bruised reed; he won’t extinguish a faint wick, but he will surely bring justice” (Isaiah 42:1b.4) I remember occasionally watching Mr. Rogers with my children. For a children’s program he took on some hard issues–including bullying and death–always with a calm, non-anxious voice. A couple Presbyterian pastors I served with years ago assured me he did become anxious about “written tests;” they claimed he requested to take tests in seminary orally. I don’t know know if those reports are true. I do know he had a gift of communicating care with the spoken word. When I read the words from Isaiah 42 about how to recognize God’s chosen, Mr. Rogers, is one of the ‘celebrity’ leaders I think of.
There are many others I think of who have similar characteristics–they don’t should aloud and work hard to avoid extinguishing others light, especially if the wick is faint. As followers of Jesus, the church, we are called to lead the world into God’s arms by exhibiting the same traits. Today, the Scripture asks us, “Where can we choose to speak without shouting?” “Who is like a bruised reed that we are called to be gentle with?” “Where must we move carefully to avoid stirring the winds that will extinguish a faint wick of another’s hope?”
Isaiah says, The messiah may be gentle, but he will never be extinguished or broken. His justice will prevail. Today, take heart in being kind. Be strong in standing with the weary. God’s goodness and justice will prevail.
“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name throughout the earth.” If the Christmas manger-moment has one lasting message for us every single day of our lives, it has to be that God’s glory and majesty often hides in plain sight. In fact, God’s wondrous presence isn’t seeking to hide. It remains hidden when we neglect to be attentive. Because of Christmas a feed-trough was transformed into a manger–a cradle for an infant Christ. Because of Christmas a peasant girl was transformed into the royal mother of a king. Because of Christmas mere shepherds became Pulitzer-Prize level reporters on the one moment that would transform our world. Because of Christmas an ordinary carpenter became the metaphorical general in charge of guarding God’s child. Shortly after the visit of the wise ones, he’d strategically saved Jesus and Mary from all of Herod’s soldiers by leading a wise retreat to Egypt. The Christmas message starts with seeing God at work in the most ordinary of places and people.
Wherever life finds you today, whoever you are with, God is there. Wherever life finds you tomorrow, whoever you are with, God is there. Every day you and I are called to be part of God’s saving grace: and it begins with asking God to help us see the holy purpose and plan in seemingly ordinary moments and people. Today, if you’re married, take a moment to be amazed with your spouse. Think of all he or she has overcome, and all the blessings he or she has shared. If you’re single or widowed, choose a friend whose life inspires you. Let gratitude for that person fill your heart. If neither of these fits, choose a child, or a parent, or even a moment in life that was a blessing. Thank God for everyday holiness that has touched your life–that is all too easy to forget. Then, pray God might use you to bring a glimmer of divine glory and beauty into the world today. Remember and trust that even what seems like a small faithful act may have lasting results you never dreamed of.
“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name throughout the earth!” (Psalm 8:1)