Church of England Priest and blogger Edward Green challenges our thoughts on success
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, "Follow me." Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 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 1.43-46 NRSV
Nazareth - Small town rural Galilee - Hardly a social, intellectual or religious – let alone rabbinical centre. No wonder Nathanael says:
"Can Anything Good Come out of Nazareth?"
It sums up the Kneejerk reaction we can so easily have to people that are different from us. Unfortunately in our society there is still racism, sexism and ageism. A huge range of reality television shows could be understood to be laughing at minorities as much as laughing with them. Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and The Only Way is Essex come to mind – we tread a fine line between entertainment and ridicule.
But however hard we try - we all make judgements of people based on the way they talk look and dress. Having been involved in the alternative music scene and in vintage fashion it is something I have seen and experienced first-hand.
I don't believe we should pretend that we don't make these judgements. But we should seek to overcome them. That first emotional response that someone is not quite like us should be overcome by a second voice that says like Philip 'Come and See'. Overcome the prejudice and see what a person is really like.
But what when the circumstances are reversed?
If you read certain newspapers you might get the impression that Christians are an increasingly persecuted minority. I am not sure this is the case but I am sure that there are plenty that see the Village Church as a modern Nazareth. Backward? Out of Touch? Bumbling? Compromised? Even Dying? These views may come from those outside the faith or even from other Christians.
And of course we must guard against believing these things ourselves. Because whatever struggles we may have as individual parishes, as a benefice, or even as a national Church, what lies at the heart of our Christian community is far greater.
At Phillip's invitation Nathanael 'Came and Saw' looking beyond his prejudices, beyond the earthly Nazareth to Jesus. This is a most remarkable unveiling, or epiphany, that despite all our human shortcomings and struggles, within the Church is something infinitely greater and more precious.
The challenge to us, the challenge that we must share with others is the same. 'To Come and See', not the Nazareth that can sometimes be the reality of parish church life, but Jesus Christ at the centre, worshiped, present in bread and wine, and lived in our lives. As we intimately encounter Christ in the sacrament let us recommit to Seeing the Church not as a negative Nazareth, but rather as the home and dwelling place of Christ. Let us also be willing to share that with others, working beyond prejudice and inviting them too, to 'Come and See'
Edward Green is a Church of England Priest based in Oxfordshire. He blogs regularly at The Future Shape of Church.
February 24th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Edward Green