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Come and See Evangelism

Jesus invites us to follow him by saying simply, “Come and see.”

The scripture readings appointed by the Common Lectionary for this time of the year do not let us hold onto baby Jesus any longer. Last Sunday, Rachel preached about a grown-up Jesus being baptized by John, and this coming Sunday and the next both focus our attention on the call of the disciples, first from John’s gospel and then from Mark’s. At the very beginning of his ministry Jesus invites others to join him in engaging the power of God to transform the human community, to shift our priorities, to help usher in the Kingdom of God, and to invite others to join our journey of faith as disciples of Jesus Christ.

I know many Presbyterians are uncomfortable with the word evangelism. Some of us associate evangelism with a form of Christian witness that lends itself to street preachers, altar calls, and notions of converting others that run counter to our more reserved religious practice. But there is something we can hang onto from the Christmas story and carry with us into a new year of following the adult Jesus. Have you ever noticed that evangelism has the word angel right in the middle of it? In the best sense of the word, to be an evangelist is to be a messenger of good news. We do that not only by telling the story, but also living our faith – by sharing the love, grace, mercy, peace and justice we have come to know in Jesus Christ.

A couple of months ago I received in the mail some non-denominational publication for church leaders, the kind that usually merits a quick glance and then gets thrown into the recyclable bin. But this particular one had a little box with an interesting graphic and a statistic that caught my eye: “73% of people who don’t attend church were never invited.” I cut it out and pinned it to the bulletin board above my computer and have been meditating on that fact ever since. “73% of people who don’t attend church were never invited.”

The refrain of the gospel before us this coming Sunday from the first chapter of John is “Come and see… come and see.” Here at the beginning of a New Year together, I invite you to join me in pondering Jesus’ call to us to be disciples and Jesus’ call to us to be evangelists, sharing the good news of the gospel. Do you have a neighbor, or family member, or co-worker, or church friend who has fallen away from attending BMPC, or a person whose path you cross regularly in your daily rounds who might simply be waiting to be invited to come to church? All you have to say – in your own words of course – is “Come and see.”

I’ll see you Sunday, Agnes