“The disciples came and saw and stayed…” (John 1:39)
So what is it to ‘stay’ with Jesus? What must that have been for Andrew and the other disciple? Was it a place of peace? Or challenge? Or both? Was it what it might have been to finally come home or was it like entering territory the likes of which they had never known before?
We do not hear in John’s telling, of course. We only hear that whatever it was that Andrew experienced in the presence of Jesus that afternoon quickly compelled him to track down his brother, Simon, and bring him to Jesus, too.
Indeed, what is it to ‘stay’ with Jesus as those who first followed him did? And what does our pausing to ‘stay’ compel in us next: what thought, what word, what action, what invitation? And yes, it makes sense, it seems to me, that it is entirely necessary for us to stay — for us to be Jesus’ ‘guest’ before we can even consider inviting another to ‘stay’ at all.
In a few weeks’ time I will be joining with others from area congregations as we learn what it is to be a ‘guest’ as an entry point into what it is to be a proper host. To do so, we will gather to learn about ‘hospitality’ in the basement meeting room of the local Islamic Center. (This will be a day long workshop offered through Church Innovations.) The choice of meeting space is intentional, for of course, any one of the three participating congregations could host the day.
Now to be sure, I have been to the Islamic Center on a number of occasions. I know, for instance, that I will have to take off my shoes at the door and I know that they do not expect me, as a woman of a different faith, to cover my head. However, never before have I stayed long enough to sit down in that space. I have never had reason to use the rest room. We will bring in our own food and so will need to find our way around the kitchen. Indeed, I have been there before, but I have never ‘stayed.’
And yet, that is what the experience of ‘staying’ is, isn’t it— whether it be with a friend or a neighbor or a relative — or to ‘stay’ in the presence of Jesus? It is to have your senses heightened as you watch and listen for clues as to what is appropriate. And one’s own comfort is, to some degree, almost always dependent on the one who welcomes.
And so it is so that I find myself more anxious than usual about co-hosting this workshop for I will not be doing so on my own familiar ground. Indeed, I will be vulnerable in a way I don’t necessarily like to be vulnerable. But that is normally when learning happens, doesn’t it? That is when meaningful change is most possible.
So I wonder now, how and where and when are you and I called to ‘stay’ with Jesus?
- Do we do it as we dwell in Scripture?
- Do we find ourselves staying with Jesus as we sit still in prayer?
- Or as we stand to sing in worship?
- Do we ‘stay’ with Jesus when our hands are put to work in service of others?
- Or when we stand with the oppressed, the fearful, the hungry, the poor?
- Do we ‘stay with Jesus’ when we speak out for the voiceless or the powerless?
Indeed, what is it to ‘stay’ with Jesus? More than that, what is it to stay with Jesus in a way where I allow myself to be open and vulnerable — changed by the ‘staying’ — even as, no doubt, we will be ‘changed’ as we gather at the Islamic Center two Saturdays from now? Even as Andrew and the other disciple were clearly ‘changed’ so long ago.
And so for you and me, I wonder now:
- Will such ‘staying’ with Jesus find us in a place of challenge or peace or both?
- Will it be like going home or will it be like entering territory the likes of which we have never known before?
- Like Andrew, who might we then be compelled to invite to ‘stay’ as well?
- Indeed, how might we be changed by ‘staying’ with Jesus?