Sermon – January 19, 2020 – Second Sunday after Epiphany

I am often not a huge fan of the gospel of John.

It feels like he is always shouting. It’s like reading an email written in all capitol letters.


I want to ask him – to give me a second – and back up a little bit.

  • Give me some space.
  • It seems like he is never asking a question,

yet always demanding a response.


John the Baptizer – not to be confused with the writer of the book of John –

is also a loud character, who makes powerful statements,

that demand a response.

-today he gives a powerful testimony of recognizing Jesus as

The Son of God.

He declares that Jesus is the messiah, that he saw the spirit descend like a dove, and heard the voice of God say “this is my beloved son.”


So, imagine you are on the dusty street that day,

You maybe aren’t one of John’s followers, but you know who he is.

He has generated lots of talk, for his charismatic presence

and bold declarations about God, his call for repentance

and baptism


Would you have recognized Jesus as the messiah, if you were there?

What would you expect the long-awaited messiah to look like?

What would you have expected him to be doing or saying?

Where would you go looking for him?

In the temple? In the market? At school? At a party?


Then two of Johns disciples start following Jesus

and Jesus asks what they’re looking for.

  • Their response is odd… They ask him where he’s staying?
  • Where are you staying?

His response is come and see.


I want to stay with the question of Jesus to his future disciples,

Who at that point didn’t really know him.

They were still curious at this point, which I think is a fine place to be.

  • I’m grateful that Jesus doesn’t demand a response to that question
  • Or a test of their recognition of him.


Jesus seems to be asking an authentic not rhetorical question

– What are you looking for?


This may sound like a peculiar leap, but this question reminds me of being

At the checkout at ALDI and they ask;

“did you find everything you were looking for?”


  • There are times when I have a detailed list and I can give an easy YES or a No – I couldn’t find coconut milk


  • But, most of the time I find so many things that weren’t on my list,

That I didn’t even know were in the store,

Or maybe I had never tried before and just took a risk on.


So, did I find everything I was looking for?

Maybe? I wasn’t even looking for half of this stuff and then maybe

The stuff I was looking for – I decided I don’t need anymore.

So – to answer your question — YES?


And if you are in the general age range of 40-50 you maybe can’t hear the question “did you find everything you were looking for?” without hearing the brilliant U2 song in which Bono sings over and over again

“I still haven’t found what I’m looking for”


  • And did you know that there is an entire liturgy based on U2 songs

Because they started as a Christian rock band and there is a consistent strand of profound theology that runs through their music.


I digress.


I think it is so interesting that after John’s big declaration of WHO Jesus is

  • Jesus asks these curious disciples WHAT are you looking for?
  • Not who. What are you looking for?
  • What would you be looking, watching, and listening for?

It says they remained with him that day, and by 4 in the afternoon

  • They had somehow seen and heard enough to say
  • YEP – he’s the messiah. He is the one.
  • What on earth did they see that convinced them?
  • What were they looking for that they saw?



I want to turn the question on you, people of St. Matthew.

What are you looking for?

You are in the process – no matter how far you might feel from it – you are in

The process of finding a new pastor.

  • What are you looking for?
  • Do you have a strict grocery list?
  • Are you open to things you didn’t even know you needed?
  • Are you open to let some things on your list go, because maybe

You might actually not need that right now?


What are you looking for? Not who.

But because this is maybe the question on the forefront of your mind, I would encourage get really honest about your biases and assumptions about the question of WHO.

  • Do you assume you are looking for a man? Or a woman?
  • Do you assume you are looking for someone who is white and midwestern?
  • Do you assume you are looking for someone who is straight and married to someone of the opposite gender, with 2 children in grade school?
  • Do you assume you are looking for someone with plenty of experience in churches just like yours?

I want to remind you that Jesus did not ask his future disciples WHO are you looking for, but WHAT are you looking for.


Maybe what they saw that afternoon was beyond what they were looking for.

  • Maybe what they saw was humility, kindness, authenticity, and hospitality
  • Maybe what they saw was trust-worthiness, respect, and faithfulness.


The irony here, in my opinion, is that we know they expected the messiah to be

Like a king; full of power and commandments of right and wrong,

Handing out righteous punishment and judgment.


But, that is not at all what they found in Jesus.

His qualities were completely unexpected and not on their list.


And I want to make clear – when you are asked what you are looking for in regards to a pastor you need to print in all capital letters on the top of the page



You are not looking for the messiah. That is already taken care of.

You are looking for someone who can stand with you, and direct your gaze

Towards God’s presence of mercy, love, and hope in the world.


And what you think you are looking for might be just a fraction of what you find you actually need and want.