When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, 'What are you looking for?' They said… 'Where are you staying?' He said to them, 'Come and see.'"
Anthony B. Robinson
Not long ago I was in Louisville, Kentucky, where I met Jamesetta Ferguson, the pastor of St. Peter's UCC, a downtown church that has experienced a death to life change. She invited me to visit the church saying, "Yes, we'd love to have you visit. Come and see what God is doing."
I thought of the other invitations I've heard (and given) to church. "It's a really friendly congregation, wonderful people." Or "You might like it here, we are very open-minded." Or, "We have a great youth program."
What's the difference between her invitation and these others? The subject of the verbs. For the second batch of invitations, we people, we church or congregation, are the subjects of the verbs. For that pastor in Louisville, God is the subject of the verb. "Come and see what God is doing." To me, at least, that seemed much more powerful, faithful and, frankly, more interesting.
God is doing something important and powerful in many of our churches where the invitation may be more tame and predictable, on the order of: "It's really a great group of people - you'll like it." But that misses the point. God is the point. What God is doing is our story, our hope, and the source of our energy.
Perhaps some of us whose default option is otherwise might experiment with making God the subject of the sentence? What is God doing in your life and in your church? Could you invite someone with words like those I heard, "We'd love to have you come and visit. Come and see what God is doing."
You are, Holy One, the subject of the verbs, the living and active one, whose word is a two-edged sword, whose presence is the healing balm of Gilead. Thank you. Amen.
Anthony B. Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher and writer. His newest book is Called to Lead: Paul's Letters to Timothy for a New Day, and he is also the author of the just-published Book of Exodus: A God is still speaking Bible Study. Read his weekly reflections on the current lectionary texts at www.anthonybrobinson.com by clicking on Weekly Reading.