Have you been listening? If you have been listening well you have already heard a request for more. You have heard a request for an invitation. It may have been tentative, uncertain and doubtful, but it was there just the same. Most requests for an invitation are disguised in an attempt to avoid embarrassment. They follow the old familiar sales pitch: “You don’t want to buy any Girl Scout Cookies do you?” accompanied by a look that fully expects disappointment. The correct answer, of course, is, “Why yes, I’ll take four boxes.”
“Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” After a long conversation during which Jesus listened with patience and understanding, they said to him, “Rabbi where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came, they saw, they stayed for more.
“What are you looking for?” That’s the first invitation. It’s an invitation for the other to put into words of some kind a sense of what kind of hunger is in his or her heart and what kind of nourishment she or he seeks. Remember, it’s not your hunger for a particular kind of nourishment that counts, it’s theirs, not yours. If you’ve been listening you’ll can begin suggesting possible ways in which, through your congregation, God in Christ might feed their hunger, and, if not through your congregation, perhaps another. A young man came to see me not long ago to talk about his own hunger. It took him six full months to get up the courage to talk, and, after listening to him, I suggested he might find what he was seeking at the nearby Methodist church.
“Come and see” is the second invitation. It is an invitation to come with you to the place and among the people where you are fed. Come and see can be said in different words in different ways, but in the end it means “Why not come to church with me” in a way that minimizes the anxiety producing strangeness of church.
• All kinds of people come to our church.
• You will see every sort of dress.
• You don’t have to do anything; just sit and watch.
• We will sing, pray, hear four pretty substantial readings from scripture, listen to a fairly short sermon, pray a little more, and then comes the big thing for us – Holy Communion. For us, Holy Communion is the centerpiece of the whole service, and you may have a lot of questions about it so just ask away.”
It’s about as simple as that. So what’s the big deal? Get up off your fat butt and go do it! OK, OK, I’m sorry I said you had a fat butt. I recant. Get up off your lazy butt and go do it!