Throughout the Gospel of John, “seeing” is a word that carries a lot of meaning. Many people “saw” Jesus, but not everyone understood the meaning of what they were seeing.
Yet seeing is more than observing – to truly “see” Jesus is to become involved in what Jesus is doing, to participate and engage with who He really is and what that means, as we find in the very beginning of John’s Gospel. Two of John the Baptist’s disciples heard John point to Jesus and declare: “Look, here is the Lamb of God.” So they followed Jesus to ask Him where he was staying – and Jesus’ response is an invitation: “come and see.”
An invitation is a powerful thing.
An invitation is more than just information about an opportunity. It tells us that we are desired, needed, truly welcomed to be a part of something.
I don’t know about you, but I’m saturated with information about events and groups and things going on. I get things by mail, and email and Facebook. I get more than my share of robo-calls trying to tell me that “no, really, this is my last chance to save on car insurance…” (If only!)
In ministry, we are blessed to have so many tools to communicate with people: phone, texts, email, a multitude of social media websites and apps (accessed by personal computers, tablets or phones), and even good old-fashioned mail delivered by post. We create websites, Twitter accounts, newsletters, bulletins, slideshows, Facebook pages, bulletin board signs and sign-up sheets and Sunday morning announcements.
And yet, for all the different ways we can share, just because we’ve announced something doesn’t mean the invitation is communicated and received.
Our Diaconate has been talking about this challenge, and how important it is to do more than just share information – about Jesus, about church events, about community services. We too, can extend a personal invitation: come and see.
I remember a conversation I’d had years ago about how our church tends to be open to people as they are and welcoming them to find ways to engage and connect. At the same time, the comment came back: an open door is not the same thing as a personal invitation to come through that door.
This is something we can all learn from, whether we’re talking about sharing our faith in Jesus, to participating in opportunities to worship, serve, grow or gather. Let’s not assume that just because we’ve shared information about an event, that our job is done. Let’s also find ways to extend an invitation and invite others as they choose – to “come and see.”