St. John’s Episcopal Church
Suffolk, Virginia
The Second Sunday after the Epiphany
The Rev. Leslie Ferguson, Rector
Isaiah 49:1-7; Psalm 40:1-12; 1 Corinthians 1;1-9; John 1:29-42
Editor’s note: this sermon is more conceptual than the one delivered

            What are we looking for?

The answer to that question is complicated because it’s hard to truly distinguish what we are really looking for. Sometimes it is our hopes, sometimes it is our dreams, other times it is our needs, and other times we really don’t know what we’re looking for. That doesn’t make it any less important to ask and answer the question because the search is where we grow.

Today, we see Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist and later John’s disciples going to Jesus looking for “the rabbi”. When Jesus asks them what they are looking for they respond, “where are you staying?” Not an answer but it looks like they knew the answer to Jesus’ question wasn’t something that would arrive in a moment. In fact, after they encounter Jesus they realize they’ve found the Messiah. How do they do that? By staying and being present; by asking questions and exploring their answers; by being in God’s presence in the person of Jesus.

What are we looking for?

We may be looking for a buzzword: relevance; our place in the narrative; our place in the story of our community; or even a sense of purpose in the present. Or maybe we’re looking for an identity in a cloudy world. Or maybe we’re looking for a something that stands the test of time; something that gives us hope.

I think we are looking for something that transforms us into something closer to what we’re supposed to be, something that God created us to be. I think we’re looking for something that brings us closer to our source of strength and hope – not the promises of the world, the things that change or fail because they are supported by human endeavor and promises.

Do we find what we’re looking for? Probably not on this side of heaven. But we are rewarded by faithfully looking for God and asking ourselves what we’re looking for. But our search is rewarded by being open to finding something that we don’t expect, something that is different than we think we’re looking for. As we look and ask the question we find ourselves getting closer to what we’re looking for.

What are we looking for? A relationship that helps us faithfully look for God in the midst of the mess that is life; in the midst of our doubt. We are looking for an opportunity to find and share hope and justice. Not to normalize what happens but to shine a light into places where hope and justice are lacking. I think we are looking for a way to be equipped and to help equip others search for God in the present.

What are we looking for? The answer is complicated yet it is ultimately rewarding.