I am “in between jobs” for the second time in 18 months.
Because I had so much free time during Lent, I think, I have been dwelling a lot on the notion of “smallness.”
Perhaps it’s time to get off the road and work closer to home. Perhaps it’s time for me to shift my ambitions, to discern what few things I must do instead of chasing all of the things I could do.
Perhaps it’s time to put down roots instead of spreading wings.
Perhaps this frame of mind that I’m in caused the words of Psalm 119 to strike me so powerfully this morning: “I am small and of little account.”
Your word has been tested to the uttermost, *
and your servant holds it dear.
I am small and of little account, *
yet I do not forget your commandments.
Your justice is an everlasting justice *
and your law is the truth.
Trouble and distress have come upon me, *
yet your commandments are my delight.
The righteousness of your decrees is everlasting; *
grant me understanding, that I may live. (Psalm 119:140-144)
We don’t know much about Philip beyond what we read in today’s Gospel lesson, and we can’t even sort out who the biblical James really was — talk about obscurity!
Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” (John 1:45-46)
But that simple invitation from an obscure follower turns everything around. Philip invites Nathanael to know Jesus, and Nathanael, “an Israelite in whom there is no guile,” comes to love Jesus.
That simple invitation to “come and see” also echoes in two of the Friday prayers in the Daily Office.
Every Friday morning, we ask God to “mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace” (BCP 99).
Come and see, says Jesus to his disciples. Follow me in the way of the cross. “Trouble and distress” may come upon you, but I am with you, he says. You will find life and peace with me.
I would guess that most of us who pray the Office regularly also pray this Prayer for Mission on Fridays, too:
Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for the honor of your Name. Amen. (BCP 101)
The way of the cross that we follow with Jesus is not only suffering, but also compassion. The Spirit we share with Jesus not only draws us in to intimacy, but also leads us out to embrace.
Here, we pray that we may extend the same invitation to others that Christ extends to us. We pray that we, small as we are, “may bring those who do not know [Christ] to the knowledge and love of [Christ].”
I don’t know what Philip and James expected when they began to follow Jesus. I don’t know what to expect in the next stage of my work and ministry. But I look forward to finding out.
How is God calling you to “come and see” what’s next in your life?