Ok – this started out as an idea that didn’t quite gel.  Then I got a real start at my clergy writing group.  And it evolved into this sermon:

So, here are these Greeks, these Hellenists, these outsiders to the Jewish faith.  They’ve been hearing about Jesus.  There’s just something about Jesus …

And these guys have a kind of in.  Because among Jesus’ followers are some other outsiders, Hellenists, folks who’s background is as Greek as it is Jewish.  People like them.  People they can approach.

And so they approach them.

“We wish to see Jesus.”

Maybe this is meant as an essentially trivial request. In Mark’s gospel, everyone has heard about Jesus –maybe something like all of us have heard about Oprah.  Probably all of us would like to meet Oprah, or have tea with the Queen.  Let’s meet the famous guy.  Wouldn’t that be a kick?

And I’m not clear if they ever did meet Jesus.  Jesus took their request as a sign that the fulness of time had come.  The outside world, the dominant culture, was hearing the word of God and coming to him!  I like to think he took time to talk with them.  The text doesn’t  actually say.

But is any meeting with Jesus really trivial?

Is any encounter with God really trivial?

These Greeks, these Hellenists, want to see Jesus.  They really aren’t interested in meeting his followers.  They aren’t enquiring about how to become a member of the group.  They want a meet and greet, and maybe something more, with Jesus.

And I find myself wondering if …  no, frankly pretty certain this is not …  any different from how this works today.

Certainly, initially, people are generally not interested in joining a church.  People are not interested in being told how to live their lives.  People come to people like themselves, people they know, because they want an encounter with Jesus.

Now, we know, for most practical purposes, that Jesus exists in this world around us today in this mystical Body we call the Church.  We are his eyes and ears and hands and feet, doing his will in God’s creation today.  And in our own, broken way, we follow The Way — Jesus’ way — Jesus’ example in our lives together.

It’s in our broken faithfulness that people we know have their best chance of meeting Jesus today.

Like it or not, we are ambassadors for Christ.  People will meet Jesus, or not meet Jesus, in their encounters with us.  We are his followers, and the way we represent him is the way they are going to understand him.  Which is pretty scary, given that none of us is anywhere near perfect.

Except, of course, that if we make room for Jesus in our lives, Jesus lives in and through us, and Jesus can make himself known.  So we’re not on our own.

Now, we may be interested in acquiring new members.  And, certainly, if our goal is to make disciples and to join them in following Jesus as our Lord, this is a good thing.

But Jesus is not interested in growing church membership.  Jesus is interested in changing lives.  Jesus is interested in a growing community of people who know and follow God’s way and work for the coming of God’s kingdom.

And the people who come to us — yes, sometimes here at church, but much more often in the day to day course of our lives — are not interested in the institution of the church.  They are interested in the person of Jesus.  They are interested in having a relationship with the one who is holy.  They are interested in living in harmony with God’s creation.

Helping them find that relationship, helping each other live into that relationship, is our reason for being here.

A few months back, I wondered in a sermon if we might do better talking about spiritual friendship, helping people see and understand their relationship with God, than talking about evangelism (a word which tends to carry such negative connotations for so many of us).

But whatever we call it, people are hungry.  People are looking for something in their lives.  We’re looking for God.  It’s a spiritual quest.  And we’re spiritual guides.

These days, we don’t always use Christian vocabulary, or even the vocabulary of faith, as we talk about our spiritual pilgrimage.  But that’s what we’re all on.  Any time we talk about our daily lives, we cannot help but talk about the faith that is in us.  Because that faith is lived out in our lives, day by day.  And our fellow pilgrims are going to look to those they see traveling the path with them to help them find the way.

They’re going to come to us.

And what they want, what we all want and need, is to see Jesus.

I say this to you in the Name of God:  Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.  Amen.