Paxtonvic’s Blog

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Just before I go and immerse myself in  ” Sherlock” on BBC1 I will post todays sermon offering.

I have edited the opening paragraphs as theyreferred to more personal situations in the Benefice, but I hope you get the drift of my ” wanted” theme.

The gospel reading today was John 1 v 43-51. I left the Revelation passage well alone, preferring the intriguing meeting between Jesus and Nathaniel.

 Sermon on John 1 v 43.

Recently I have been  a member of  interview panels involved in selecting two new people to serve in different roles in our Benefice.

During the interviews  I found myself looking back to  April 2006 when I was interviewed for this post and am grateful that those involved were very kind to me!

So… why were the choices made that were made? If you have ever been involved in interviewing, I wonder what it is you look for in a person? We kept being reminded by one of the interviewers for one of the appointments that the  process wasnt a personality contest.

But that was very hard because inevitably when we meet someone we are either drawn to them or not. We perhaps immediately feel we could work with a person or feel luke warm about having them in our  lives. When it is a competitive interview and there are several candidates each with different strengths and weaknesses it can be very hard to reach a decision.

With both appointments, the interviewing panels were unanimous but we could see strengths in all the candidates and qualities that would contribute well to our organizations. It’s really sad to have to disappoint someone who has applied for a job but I always hope that unsuccessful candidates gain confidence and self insight from the experience. It might simply be of course that the person isn’t the right person for a particular organization at that time. The Paxton Benefice interview was the third one I had had in a few weeks  and looking back I wouldn’t have been right for the first two settings.

Usually the right candidate matches up to a person specification. Those interviewing hopefully know instinctively what sort of person their organization needs at that time.

Maybe someone who is a good manager or a good organizer. Maybe someone who can enthuse and encourage others to think outside the box and go for growth.

Maybe someone with good person skills is needed who will enable everyone in the organization to feel affirmed in the part they play.  They might simply need to be someone who will carry out important tasks efficiently and effectively. Whatever their role, I rate commitment very highly and when this comes across in a candidate I sit up and take note.

I’m sure we all wish those newly appointed well and it’s good to be mindful too of those who are without employment and who struggle with interview situations – or who indeed find it hard to get an interview at all in these days of high unemployment.

So, wanted: 12 highly committed,.motivated and loyal disciples.

Apply: To Jesus of Nazareth. Interviews to be held near to the Sea of Galillee.

Well, it wasn’t quite like that was it?  The creation of a group of 12 disciples  certainly goes back to the historical Jesus. We learn from a very ancient text, that of 1 Corinthians, that Jesus appeared after the resurrection to 12 disciples, the number symbolizing the 12 tribes of Israel. Jesus disciples were to be the new people of God, the new Israel.

Maybe the 12 had heard about him or even seen him before he called them. Here was this  enigmatic figure proclaiming the kingdom of God. Proclaiming  that God’s spirit had come among them, that people should turn their lives around and repent.

Maybe they had heard about him before, but what we do know is that so compelling was his call to them, so irresistible his invitation to follow and leave everything behind, that they just did it. No short listing or interviewing. No questioning of Jesus as to what he was about. Then and there they gave their total commitment.

It’s true all four gospels give a different account of their calling.

In Mark’s Gospel, Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John Sons of Zebedee, all four of whom were fishermen, were called first. Later, a full quota of 12 is given.

In John’s Gospel as we heard today, the first 4 were Simon Peter, his brother Andrew, Philip and Nathaniel.

But whatever order they were called in there seemed to be an instant response to the calling of Jesus.

Only with Nathaniel things were a bit different. We read how at first he was not at all sure about Jesus.

The call of Nathaniel

Priory Church St Mary Magdalene

St Clears, Carmarthenshire.

His friend Philip brings him to Jesus in the first instance. Philip has already caught the vision. He believes that Jesus was the one whom all scripture had pointed to. Maybe he was so enthusiastic about Jesus that he wanted his best friend to meet him too.

Now Jesus was  from Nazareth  and we read in Acts 24 v 5 that Nazareth was not a highly rated place at all. The folk from neighbouring village Cana thought very little of  Nazarenes. Nathaniel came from Cana, so he would have had fixed ideas about this man Jesus from the outset, rather as we might ( erroneously) have fixed ideas about people who come from certain areas.

True to form, we find that at first Nathaniel rejects Jesus. How could the Messiah ever come from a place like that?

But when he actually meets Jesus. When he encounters him face to face, a light switches on. Jesus speaks to him. We don’t know what he says exactly, but we do know he tells Nathaniel things about himself  in such a way that  he has a profound effect on the man from Cana and he responds with a confession of faith. Nathaniel is convinced he is the Messiah. Nathaniel is convinced this is the man he wants to follow

Jesus tells Nathanael that what he has seen of Jesus so far is only the beginning and Jesus uses the imagery of Genesis 28:12, the vision of Jacob’s ladder. It is important to remember the story of Jacob and what happened in order to appreciate why Jesus refers to this incident.

Jacob was the son of Isaac and Rebecca  and he was very important.

His children were the ancestors of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. You will remember that Isaac and Rebecca had  twin boys : Esau the eldest and Jacob the younger twin.

As the younger twin of Esau, Jacob tricked his brother out of his birthright and the blessing from his father which he should have received as the firstborn. It is appropriate that later in his life Jacob himself is tricked by his own sons who are jealous of their favoured brother Joseph.

Jacob had to flee from his brother, the hunter Esau, when his twin tried to kill him (Genesis 25-28). Destitute he goes to his uncle Laban, but on the way he has a dream at Bethel. He sees a ladder o which stretched up to the sky, with angels going up and down on it.  In the dream he receives a blessing from God and a promise that he would  return to the land and God would be with him. This eventually took place.

It is important to remember this story because Jesus clearly knew about its significance.

When he tells Nathanael that he will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.’ Jesus is placing himself in the same position as Jacob.

Every Jew knew that Jacob was the father of the Twelve Tribes of Israel; now Jesus is assuming such importance onto himself.  Jesus is the new Israel !

God will no longer reveal himself at Bethel, God is present in the person of Jesus and it is Jesus who will link heaven and earth, not Jacob’s ladder.

Nathaniel must have engaged with Jesus on all levels in this encounter: with his mind and with his heart. Above all this man   Jesus inspired him as he inspired the other 11 disciples. From then on he was a wanted man.  Wanted by Jesus to fulfill a crucial mission.

Wanted: men and women and children in 2012  to continue to spread the infectious good news of Jesus Christ. Thank God there are no CVs s to write, interviews to attend and presentations to prepare. It’s simple.

We bring ourselves just as we are. We may or may not be good at a particular task. We might not have many skills but we might simply be kind and loving Christian people ready to lead others to Jesus just as Philip did. More people come to Christ through the invitation of a friend than by any other way.

Wanted: Christian communities to spread that infectious Good News that the risen Jesus Christ is out and about in our world, in our villages and in our hearts.  We don’t have to be in a church to be about the work of mission. We just have to be committed and often in the words of St Francis “ preach the gospel always, use words when absolutely necessary”

If you ever wonder if you are wanted… the answer is simply YES.

January 15, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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