Reading: John 12. 20 – 33
My heart always leaps when I see the name Andrew in the Gospel passage – there are not many but they are all important:
- Introducing Simon Peter to Jesus
- Finding the boy with the five loaves and two fish; and here
- Introducing the Greeks (the gentiles)
His role is as intermediary – bringing people to see Jesus
The fact that it is Greeks is significant because the Greeks represent the whole world which was not Jewish – these were the uncircumcised, the uninitiated – in the language of our time, the ‘unchurched’
So the role of Andrew in bring people to see Jesus is a very significant one for us as so many are now unchurched
A role which we all have as Christian disciples
So what does it mean To “see” him – to see Jesus?
First it can mean to literally see – to catch sight of – I saw the Queen – I saw the rubgy (sadly). This is a statement of fact but not in itself a life changing encounter
Secondly, it can mean to interact, to have a conversation – I went to see the doctor, the headmaster, my parents. This is starting to be more meaningful – something has changed here, there has been an interaction.
Thirdly, if we ‘see’ things we understand – I see what you mean – my understanding, my view of the world has changed
And it is surely this last sense in which we most want people to ‘see Jesus’
It we use another mode of perception then I think we can explore this further.
For example hearing – what if we want to introduce someone to the work of a composer?
I would like to introduce you to Bach
I would like you to hear Bach so you can understand why I love him
So how do we help people to hear the music, to hear Bach?
First, we might invite them to come and listen to the music – that would be a bit like inviting someone to church
You would want to be confident that the performance was going to be good, that it was going to be representative of what Bach was about – perhaps go for the famous Toccata and Fugue in D mInor .
Better still read copy of the musical score and start to understand how it works musically, structurally, how the harmony and the counterpoint combine to create the music.
That would be like encouraging someone to start reading the Bible to find the story of Jesus – the narrative of the Gospels, the interpretation of the Epistles and the backstory of the Old Testament
But best of all we would participate in the music and invite others to do the same – to create new music, to live through it
If you loved Bach you would do that wouldn’t you?
So why wouldn’t you do that for the person who through his life and death and resurrection changed the world forever?
It involves taking a risk doesn’t it
We heard today
Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies it remains only one
But if it dies then it bears much fruit
It is not for nothing that the name Andrew, the great introducer, means brave in Greek.
I encourage you to be brave and take a risk
We are going to take some risks this Easter
On Palm Sunday with our Palm Sunday procession
On Good Friday with our Walk of Witness across the heath
People might laugh at us
But if we believe that the life and death and resurrection of this man truly changed the world then what is the risk?
The risk is that people live and die in ignorance of that
The risk is that we are the generation that was too chicken to get our children to come to church and to speak to our neighbours about what Jesus means to us – to help them see
We are looking to reverse these trends and to grow our church
You will be hearing a lot more about that in the following weeks and months following our Parish’s attendance at a LYCIG (Leading Your Church into Growth) event arranged recently by the Diocese of Guildford.
What does growth mean?
Growth can be in three dimensions
- Spirituality / discipleship
- Mission and outreach
We need to be brave to do that and we are going to ask for God’s help in prayer.
We start by acknowledging that God alone brings growth to the church
Growth comes from the energy that comes from God being allowed to work in the relationships which we all have
We pray that God will Send your Holy Spirit
We tap into the energy of the Holy Spirit and we do that through prayer – so let us pray now the LYCIG prayer:
God of Mission Who alone brings growth to your Church,
Send your Holy Spirit to give Vision to our planning,
Wisdom to our actions,
And power to our witness.
Help our church to grow in numbers,
In spiritual commitment to you,
And in service to our local community,
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Sermon preached by Rev Christopher Hancock at St Mary’s Headley, 18th March, 2018