Sermon: Philip and Nathaniel
Not everyone is famous or memorable. Do you recognize these names from the time of Jesus? Zadok the Judge?, Dee-bir the tent Cleaner? Gumi the candy maker?, Lowtan the awning maker? Jael the prison guard? Ido the wedding coordinator? Orr-in the rower? Humphrey from the Cheap Rent-a-Camel?
Of course you don’t recognize these names. They are not in the bible. Did Jesus call them? Who knows?
How about the names Philip and Nathaniel? You may not recognize them at first but when I tell you they are disciples it rings a bell. They answered the call of Jesus. You don’t recognize their names because they were called. You recognize them but because they responded.
Philip, like Andrew and Peter is from Bethsaida. That is about 40k from Nazareth. It may seem odd to have a Greek name but then Jesus is a Greek derivative. Philip means “lover of horses” and he was named after Philip of Macedon, who was the father of Alexander the Great. You see even in those days people were named after famous individuals.
As soon as Philip is called by Jesus he immediately invites Nathaniel.
We then see him in the story of the feeding of the five thousand. He is the one who asks “Where can we get bread? He was the practical type. In the Upper Room he asks Jesus “Show us the Father”. He wasn’t the kind to get swept up religious fever, yet when he was crucified he apparently asked to crucified upside down because he didn’t feel he was worthy of the same death as Jesus.
His importance is that he was a link to the Greek community. Tradition tells us that he also went to areas now known as Russia and France. So he did a big part in spreading this new faith.
Nathaniel was invited by Philip. Philip says – Come and see this man” Nathaniel’s response was “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Perhaps this was just some small town rivalry. Maybe Nazareth had the best sand hockey team. At any rate Jesus says to him “Here is an Israelite in whom there is no guile. A better word might be deceit. He sees Nathaniel as an honest person even though Nathaniel just made a joke about Jesus’ hometown. Nathaniel is curious as to how Jesus knows him Jesus states that he saw him under the fig tree. The fig tree was traditionally a place where scholars gathered to share information and to think. Jesus recognized him as a thinking man.
Nathaniel’s last name may have been Bartholomew which denotes royal heritage. We are not sure where he went later in life. He may have accompanied Philip to Russia or he may have gone to India.
The Armenian Church claims him as their founder.
We look at these two because they are just ordinary people. They didn’t have any outstanding talents that they were known for. Jesus didn’t pick them because they had some great charismatic gift. They were ordinary people. They were also different from each other. Variety is a good thing. Philip was practical and energetic, while Nathaniel was thoughtful and witty.
They are a cross section of ourselves. What gifts do you have that would be of help in this world?
Our first response often is “I have no talents or gifts that would be of any help to anyone. That is not true.
Unfortunately we live presently in a world that emphasises our inadequacies. We are told that all of us are victims of one kind or another. That victimhood often immobilizes us. We end up feeling sorry for ourselves and unable to help others.
However helping others is the very way you bring meaning to your life.
I watched the movie, Ted Two the other night. (It is amazing how this stay at home rule affects us.) Morgan Freeman played a judge. He said “the definition of being human is doing something positive for someone else”.
We all have that capability in spite of, or even because of our difficulties.
There is a story right now making the rounds from Alaska Airlines, about a man named Tim, who boarded a plane but he had no hearing or sight. The flight attendants tried to help him but there was much they couldn’t do. Finally one of them thought to ask the passengers over the loudspeaker. A 15 year old girl named Clara came forward. She had learned sign language because she had dyslexia. She was able to sign into his hand and he was able to respond. Not only was it beneficial it brought joy to them and to everyone around.
I am sure if you had asked this girl what possible benefit her dyslexia could be to anyone else she would not have had an answer. But because of it, she was able to help another human being.
A few years ago some churches took part in a program, I think it was called Talent pool or something to that effect. Everyone in the church had to describe their talents and then when the church needed that particular emphasis they could call on that person. Some people had a hard time writing down anything. I think for some it was more of a wish list
Search yourself and ask – what gifts do you have that would be an asset to the world.
Why would Jesus want a questioning Greek to be part of his Jewish following? Because he could reach people. Why would Jesus want a thinking Jew to be part of his following? Because he could reach people
All of us have that capability.
Recently a survey showed that 95% of the people who came to church as adults did so because a friend invited them. Sadly the same survey showed that only 2% of the invitees extended that offer to non-church people.
Right now inviting someone to become familiar with a church is very needed as a lot of people are feeling the effects of this pandemic and it has never been easier. Just give them the information for Youtube. Even if all you have is a flip phone you can still make a call.
Every one of us has a skill or talent that can make the world a better place. We are all called. Be one of the ones that answers.
PRAYER God, just as an artist can take a piece of wood or stone, see something beautiful inside, and create something wonderful, so to you can do that with us. Just as creation brings joy and warmth to those around, so do we when we use our gifts. As we struggle with our isolation and so many changes to our lifestyle, make us aware that others are going through the same passage. Help us to search ourselves and find not only our gifts but also our divine spark that comes from you. Just as Jesus gave up his whole life, help us to give up even a part of ours for the betterment of all. Thankyou for you love.
We pray in silence for those who need special care at this time….
Now we pray in the way Jesus taught us.
Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. lead us not into temptation. but deliver us from evil. for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory. forever and ever Amen
SERVICE Jan 17, 2021
Etransfer info at bottom of page
Thanks to helpers
Hymn – 574
Scripture John 1: 43-51
Go now in Peace
Go now in peace, Never be afraid
God will go with you, each hour of every day
Go now in faith, steadfast strong and true
Know God will guide you in all you do,
Go now in love and show you believe
Reach out to others so all the world can see
God will be there, watching from above
Go now in peace, in faith and in love
Amen, Amen, Amen
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