35 The next day John was standing again with two of his disciples.
36 When he saw Jesus walking along he said, “Look! The Lamb of God!”
37 The two disciples heard what he said, and they followed Jesus.
38 When Jesus turned and saw them following, he asked, “What are you looking for?”
They said, “Rabbi (which is translated Teacher), where are you staying?”
39 He replied, “Come and see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon.
40 One of the two disciples who heard what John said and followed Jesus was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter.
41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Christ).
42 He led him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon, son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).
43 The next day Jesus wanted to go into Galilee, and he found Philip. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.”
44 Philip was from Bethsaida, the hometown of Andrew and Peter.
45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law and the Prophets: Jesus, Joseph’s son, from Nazareth.”
46 Nathanael responded, “Can anything from Nazareth be good?”
Philip said, “Come and see.”
47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said about him, “Here is a genuine Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”
48 Nathanael asked him, “How do you know me?”
Jesus answered, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”
49 Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are God’s Son. You are the king of Israel.”
50 Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these!
51 I assure you that you will see heaven open and God’s angels going up to heaven and down to earth on the Human One.”
I’ve shared this story before, but it’s a good one, so I’m going to share it again. Almost nine years ago this church left our old evangelical church association and was renamed as Reservoir Church. To help with the whole branding and website process and all, we worked with a communications professional who knows and loves this community well.
And at one point, she asked me:
if your church was a person from the Bible, who would it be?
And I thought? That’s a weird question. I have no idea. So I asked her:
who do you think we’d be?
And without hesitation, she said:
Oh, you’re Philip.
Philip, one of the less known of Jesus’ inner group of students.
Why? Well, because of this story.
Phillip is a minor character even in this story.
There’s Andrew – a very religious person. A student of a counter-cultural radical rabbi out in the countryside, and when that rabbi – John – more or less refers his students to Jesus, Andrew gets to know him.
There’s Peter – Andrew’s brother. He was apparently not quite so religious, but there was something in his brother’s experience meeting Jesus that is compelling to him. And he begins to have a really important and complicated relationship with Jesus and with the whole movement that gathers around him.
Later there’s Nathaniel, another complex character. He’s kind of judgy. But he has this transformative experience that the gospel here only hints at the depths of. But it results in a really profound hope that Jesus can show him the way to God, which Jesus encourages.
But in the middle of these three more dramatic encounters, there is Phillip.
Phillip isn’t especially religious. Not everything about his encounter with Jesus is dramatic. He gets caught up in this way of Jesus not because he’s looking for it but because it finds him.
He’s from the hometown of Andrew and Peter, and the text just says Jesus found him.
So many of your stories with Jesus, and so many of your stories with this church are like this.
You inherited the Christian faith of your family and something about Jesus in it grabbed you.
Or you started rejecting the forms of Christianity you inherited but the way of Jesus was too important, too good to let go of.
Or you came into connection with someone in this church who did you a kindness or stumbled across the building or the website and you decided to visit and it felt like home.
Our stories are all different. Not just our stories of faith but our whole life stories. This is a really diverse community.
But what connects so many of us is that like these early disciples, we’re finding some of the important things we’re looking for in life in a community of faith connected to the good news about God and life and ourselves we find in the way of Jesus.
We’re finding friendship, we’re finding ways to anchor our purpose, finding a way of loving God without a lot of the garbage we thought went with being religious, maybe even just learning to love ourselves more.
This is what it means to be Phillip, to realize that something good is finding us in the way of Jesus. And to then turn around and say “Come and see” to someone else who’s looking too.
In this story, Phillip’s the first one that uses the words of Jesus – “come and see,” even to a skeptic. He doesn’t argue about religion or God or try to convince anyone of anything – that’s a waste of time. Nobody wants that.
He just shares his story in an authentic relationship with his friend.
And we are known for this as well. We’re known for a community that isn’t pushy or pressuring but is welcoming and authentic. Like Phillip, this too is who we are.
We’re releasing some stories on video from the 25 years of this church. There are five or six out so far, all from the early years. And today we’ll watch two of them. Keep an eye out on our social media and YouTube page as more keep coming. I think they’re really great. We hope you enjoy them and consider sharing any that you especially enjoy.
Here’s a story from 2000, from someone who’s still with us. It’s his version of how the way of Jesus found him and how this church invited him to come and see.
Thank you, Manny. I love you and I love everything about that story, how like me, you’ve found yourself sobbing in worship here, how you’ve experienced feeling different and relieved when you feel like a God of love is with you, how in your faith story, you’ve not only learned how to pray, but you’ve “learned about yourself, got to know yourself, and began to love yourself.”
That’s really powerful. Friends this is your story too, your spiritual path as Manny calls it, to be found by a loving God who knows your name, who wants you to love yourself, and find peace.
It’s in this community’s DNA for this to happen here for us and for us to say “come and see” when we find someone else looking.
I want to play one more of our videos – this one a 2003 story. It’s got another “We Are Phillip” aspect to it. A different way we say “come and see” together.
The movement that follows Jesus’ death and resurrection tried out a lot of names before they were called Christians.
Sometimes they were called “Followers of the Way.” I like that, that faith isn’t mostly about what you do or don’t believe, it’s about a way you follow.
And sometimes they were called “the Body of Christ.” For some reason, I don’t like how that phrase sounds quite as much. It sounds super-religious to me, and a little uncomfortable, like overfamiliar to think of a faith community as all members of a body.
But even though the vibe doesn’t grab me as much as “Followers of the Way,” I like the meaning of this metaphor too, the idea that to be in the way of Jesus is to be connected to a God that looks like Jesus, and it’s to be connected to one another too. And it’s to be the body of a loving God to the world, to be God’s hands and feet, as it’s said.
Friends, most of what makes me proud of this community is you – the ways you live this story day in and day out in the world. Most of what makes this church special is what happens outside the church.
I find myself all the time telling my friends stories about the amazing people I meet here. The way you’re great friends to one another and help each other out, the cool stuff you’re doing to make your part of the world more decent and human and good as you coach youth soccer and do cool and creative and important things in your job, as you live with integrity and stand up in your communities for what’s good.
Again, most of what makes this church special happens through you out in your communities. I hope what happens when we’re together gives you love and hope and support and ideas that inspires all that being the body of Christ.
But some of what is special here is also what we do together. The impact we have in our community for instance. We started a youth soccer program over a dozen years ago that’s still going strong. I hope many of you will volunteer with it next month. The link for that was in last week’s newsletter. But just three days ago, we together awarded four more scholarships to graduating high school seniors from the neighborhood who grew up participating in this Soccer Nights program and volunteering in it and are now the first members of their families to go to college in America.
It’s so great. I love how this church loves the city, loves the world, lives the story of the love of God for us all together.
And so we’ll watch one more video about the joy of doing that, Adam and Ann’s story. I play this one for us because sometimes being the body of Christ together is really mundane. It can show up in making coffee and laying out cable for a sound system for worship. And it can show up in how we give to a church campaign to invest in our future, as we last did 20 years ago and are doing again now.
In the end, the invitational way of Phillip, the way of Jesus and the Body of Christ is real simple sometimes.
To love well, you have to plant roots somewhere. You have to plant roots with people and a place. This story is about Adam and Ann planting roots in this church, and planting roots in this city where neither of them are from. I hope some of you will do the same over the next 25 years.
And then it’s about loving who and what you find yourself connected to. Friends, our world needs a lot more of that generous love. And so I charge us to keep being a generous, abundantly loving community together.