The incident is in the first chapter of the Christian testament known as John's gospel. It is a simple story with deep wisdom. As Jesus approaches, the itinerant preacher John the Baptist exclaims to two of his followers, "Look, here is the Lamb of God!" Jesus asks them, "What are you looking for?" The two men say, "Rabbi, where are you staying?"
Jesus replies, "Come and see." I think this encounter describes the internal restlessness we humans seem to share. We seem to be soft wired with this inner yearning of the spirit.
It manifests itself as a longing for something to fill our perceived incompleteness.
Have we set aside time this summer to water your thirsty, yearning spirituality?
The two seekers were probably attracted to John the Baptist hoping he would help point them to the deeper awareness we yearn for. John directs their search to Jesus.
The question Jesus asks ("What are you looking for?") awakens endless possibilities.
People still come to religious leaders and institutions saying that they are looking for something they sense is missing or dormant. Jesus initiates the encounter with a question, journeying with him begins with conversation, not answers or dictates or promises.
Jesus does not impose himself on them, but invites them to freely disclose their restlessness. In this freedom they perhaps sense that he can assist them with their quest. Their attraction to the emerging relationship drives the need to know more. "Rabbi, where are you staying?" Do they sense that being in his physical presence is an access, too? The indwelling spiritual dimension? Do our summer travels and vacations offer us connection to the deep down stuff in our friends and families?
Jesus invites the two men further along the road less traveled, a journey that is both physical and spiritual, one that is both easily described and yet beyond words. "Come and see" is an invitation toward the mystery being sought. It is a mutual journey. Jesus invites those looking for an experience of the sacred into a relationship that will lead to the home they are seeking. It is a journey that leads to the discovery of our origin, our true identity, and the life we are seeking to live. What relationships do we need to tend to at this bend of the road?
Wherever we are in our quest, there is still more to see. Gregory of Nyssa, an early Christian mystic, bishop and theologian of the church, learned from his own experience that life with God is never fully defined or completed. He speaks of the soul "continually making fresh discoveries." God's love for us is always expanding before our eyes and our desire for God is a never-ending journey. Do we want to be sure to include worship in our summer plans rather than find ways to be absent?
I have learned that life with God is about living in relationship with God. It is not about believing or meeting requirements. It is not about believing in the Christian tradition, but about the relationship to God possible within the Christian tradition. The same is true for other traditions, like the Jewish and Muslim ones. The religious life is about a deepening relationship with the God who is known by many names, and who continues to invite us to come and see.
Rev. Kerry C. Neuhardt is the priest in charge of St. James the Apostle Episcopal Church in Tempe. He has served congregations in Arizona since 1984. He lived in Australia working in a congregation on the Gold Coast. He takes delight in the music ministry at St. James and plays with his two granddaughters as much as possible. He has been an Episcopal priest for 25 years.