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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

February 14, 2018 - Ash Wednesday - Another Subversive Gospel Lesson?

At Creator there are many memories associated with Ash Wednesday including Creator's Mardi Gras / Shrove Tuesday celebrations which traditionally happened every year when David Lee provided our worship music. For years David invited a select group of musicians to perform upbeat jazz standards. Juxtaposing those joyous musical moments and camaraderie with the dust-to-dust Ash Wednesday services provided the congregation some unique perspectives and gave an unusual balance to how Creator moved into Lent.

We still faithfully followed some traditions this year. We sang Kelly Carlisle's Kyrie to open the service and I Want Jesus to Walk with Me was the closing hymn. Also a new perspective on Ash Wednesday came this year, in part because of last Sunday's worship. When today's Gospel was read  my mind was on Bishop Dave's sermon Sunday regarding the "subversive" nature of the "Transfiguration" passage. Tonight's Gospel appears to be subversive on its face as well.

In this reading Jesus tells his disciples that when they fast they should not only avoid marking their faces but actually clean them. This is our traditional Gospel passage reading for Ash Wednesday. A Gospel reading for a service that centers around having the mark of the cross traced in ash across our foreheads. Jesus instructs the disciples not to be hypocrites; but rather to practice alms giving, fasting and praying in secret. These instructions, including that command to wash your face, are read on the same the day that Christians are encouraged to publicly wear a highly visible, ashy mark of faith on our face.

Pastor Ray, in his sermon, called the reading of this Gospel on this day somewhat ironic.

Is this a subversive Gospel, ironically encouraging Christians to behave like hypocrites? Is this the larger church's attempt at humor? Is this intended as some sort of invitation to Holy Disruption for us as followers of Jesus? Or is there a deeper message that invites us to explore in greater detail what Jesus tells us here?

First, let's be clear about what it means to be a hypocrite. The word hypocrite comes from the Greek word hypokrites, which means “an actor” or “a stage player.” The Greek word is a compound noun from two Greek words that literally translate as “an interpreter from underneath". Actors in ancient Greek theater wore large masks to mark which character they were playing, and so they interpreted the story from underneath their masks.

It is interesting that the word "underneath" comes up again this week in exploring worship. Bishop Dave pointed out in his sermon last Sunday that he was thinking of the prefix sub in subversive in its "under" meaning.

When thinking of a hypocrite in this way, as wearing a mask, the Gospel 's message becomes more evident. The mark of the cross on our forehead is not meant as a public "mask", merely worn to draw attention to our own individual righteousness. Instead this Wednesday ash is intended to be a humble admission of what we all share as followers and members of the body of Christ; past, present and future. It is the mark of our baptism made visible as to whose we truly are.

If one is wears ash on their foreheads in some vain and misguided attempt to show others how much more pious they are than someone else, this passage may serve as a warning.

Tonight's Lesson was a lament from Joel which echoed an invitation to understand a tested way to return to the Lord. Particularly the passage that reads, "Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, with morning; rend your hearts and not your clothes". This is not an easy path to take. 

Pastor Ray preached that we may not succeed on what we intend to do for Lent. We may have the wrong motives in our hearts or lack the will power and fail to give up what we planned in Lent. We may go into a cycle of guilt about this rather than attaining the freedom we desired. Pastor Ray continued that when Lent is misused or abused in this way or, for whatever reason, we fail along the journey; Lent has accomplished its purpose. We are exposed for who we are - in bondage to sin while at the same time beloved by God.

The ash, like the cross, both imposes and exposes who we truly are as Christians. 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

February 11, 2018 - Transfiguration Sunday - Listening to the Subversive Scripture

Today Bishop Dave preached and wove the Gospel's Transfiguration story with the subject of the last of Pastor Ray's sermon series: Living for Peace and Justice.

His well-received sermon started with him calling Mark's Transfiguration a subversive text. Bishop Dave highlighted the prefix sub as meaning under in this context. He suggested this was a story below a common story that we tell ourselves. 

He went on to detail his experiences for the past year in navigating the current national polices and climate as an ELCA Bishop that do not align with his personal values  For those who criticized his stands based on his Christian convictions as too political, he delineated a distinction between political and partisan.

He continued to preach about what is in the current national dialog, referencing the #me too and #black lives matter movements. He used this as a way into the Transfiguration Gospel by focusing on the power structure described in the passage. Bishop Dave observed everyone on the mountain top - Jesus, Peter, James, John, Elijah and Moses - were all white, male and Jewish. The disciples were comfortable because, as Bishop Dave put it, "these are my peeps". This may have been one reason why Peter felt comfortable in his proposal to make the three dwellings. Although Peter did not know what to say, he was comfortable with this encountered order.

That order immediately disappears when Moses and Elijah are no longer on the mountain top.  When the voice from the cloud says, "This is my Son, the Beloved listen to him!" a new order is emphasized. Only Jesus is there who can guide them through what happens from here on.

Also, in this new order, the concern is not so much about what we do but who we are and how we shape our lives. There is a recognition that, rather than focusing on reward, we should come to the realization that this will end up costing us something, just like it will cost Jesus. This "subversive text" invites us to seek out special situations and act as God's hands. Where we hear God's voice, whether that be in scripture, within ourselves, via our church or through others, we should listen and let it inform who we are and how it keeps us holding one another in prayer.

I appreciated all this and wondered about another way in which the transfiguration is subversive that is alluded to, albeit more indirectly. That is in it's timing in the narrative of the journey to Jerusalem

Consider when the transfiguration happens in Jesus Christ Superstar. If crucifixion is considered how God intended Jesus' mortal life to end, transfiguration as a sign of divine endorsement should happen immediately after Jesus dies on the cross. Happening here there is no doubt the hero is victorious.  In the film Jesus Christ Superstar, triumphant music announces God's plan has come to pass when Jesus is led to his death.

When the transfiguration takes place in Mark's Gospel is more "subversive". Indeed the entire arc of Bible stories move in this way. Living according to God's will in the Old Testament often led to some reward at the end of the story. In the New Testament the cost is emphasized far more.

The transfiguration story happens at the beginning of the journey to Jerusalem where Jesus will take up the cross and die. The movement is from a description of God's love, glory and power to the silence of the tomb after the crucifixion. Certainly there is the resurrection of Jesus to offer another perspective however Paul, for one, preached Christ crucified much more than Christ resurrected.

Generally Jesus, and the scripture as a whole, is more subversive in living into the bringing about God's vision on earth as it is in heaven and the First Lesson Micah 6:6-8 captures this well. What the Lord requires of us is not based on what others tell us. It is not about strictly abiding by laws that we no longer cherish in our hearts. It is about who we are as we do justice. If we love kindness we will follow the right path. If we walk humbly we will listen, prepared to follow the command "This is my Son, the Beloved listen to him!"

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

February 7, 2018 - Holden Evening Prayer Around the World - I am the Servant of my God, I Live to Do Your Will

There were twelve gathered at Creator together with Matt, who led us in singing Holden Evening Prayer tonight.

The twelve of us locally were joined by others globally however, including three congregations within our metro area, in offering Holden Evening Prayer tonight.

Once a year Holden invites participation in this Lutheran vesper in their words to support and draw strength from one another and reaffirm our values as people who are called, equipped, and sent, and supporting each other’s work in stewardship and justice for all people.

This is a rich, contemplative vesper and, depending on what is currently on my soul when I am participating, different parts seem to directly address what I am focused on. Tonight I was taken by Mary's words in the last line of the Annunciation leading to the Magnificat "I am the servant of my God,  I live to do your will."

This upcoming worship on Sunday will celebrate the transfiguration. During the transition from the season of Epiphany into Lent, the transfiguration is a pivot point in the narrative of the church year. At the beginning of the Epiphany season, at the Baptism of Our Lord, in the Gospel reading we hear our Father's voice say, of Jesus, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Now at the conclusion of the Epiphany season, at the Transfiguration of Our Lord,  we hear this voice again saying , “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”

After the transfiguration Jesus travels to Jerusalem. There he will not to be recognized as Lord by design as Jesus commands to be kept hidden. Rather he is prepared to take up the cross. This journey to Jerusalem will be followed through to Holy Week. For strength along this journey we can have the Father's voice accompanying us saying, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” God's command here helps us in our lives as we pray with Mary, "I am the servant of my God,  I live to do your will.".

Since my first Holden Evening Prayer I have always felt strong affirmation during the transition from the Annunciation to the Magnificat. Tonight I understood that part of this comes with the movement made from a piece with soloists to the group response of the Magnificat. This echoes in music something important in how we move from our desire to first listen and discern God's will. This desire and discernment then comes together with others as a group response, just as the individuals from Creator became part of some greater whole tonight.

And this is what I believe is a strength that comes in Holden's invitation to participate in this vesper.

Monday, February 5, 2018

February 4, 2018 - Fifth Sunday after Epiphany - You’re Gonna Have to Serve Somebody

Pastor Ray preached and reassured the congregation that this congregation does serve the community and seem to have a heart that demonstrates service. He preached about the death of Jesus and said "Everyone is not called to that kind of service" which was not at the heart of the epiphany that struck at my heart as I heard today's Gospel.

Again the epiphany came at the intersection of what is currently happening in the world and what is in the Gospel. For example, today was Super Bowl Sunday. A commercial that caught my attention was Dodge Ram's Super Bowl Ad which heavily featured a speech by civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. The commercial pulls from King's speech on greatness and service, which was delivered 50 years ago on February 4. This has been called The Drum Major Instinct speech. Dr. King addressed what he called the great task of life. The task he identified was to essentially transform our ego by redirecting our desires away from selfish, competitive goals and towards our spiritual growth and service to others.

"Recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant ... That's your new definition of greatness —  it means that everybody can be great because everybody can serve," King says in a voiceover during the Superbowl commercial, which depicts fishermen, military, football players, and others on the job before cutting to shots of Dodge Ram trucks. The commercial ended with Dodge's tagline, "Built to Serve."

Many thought this undercut and co-opted Dr. King's original message. Partly they speculated that he would not have approved of his words being used in this manner since King's speech February 4 had railed on advertisers (this part of the speech was obviously not quoted in the ad). And partly it was because of where the commercial was placed. The Super Bowl in particular and football in general provide great examples of games of dominance. Competition perhaps brings out the best in us and hones skills when it is on the field. As it becomes more and more ingrained in our social fabric, our identities, and how we live our lives; a price is paid.

Before the game, during the Pastor Ray's sermon, this became a small epiphany for me as James and John essentially ask Jesus for a dominant position over others that they think will satisfy them. At times, we all likely ask God for a certain dominance in our lives. Particularly with our current culture where service to others can be considered sacrosanct at times and not truly respected at other times.

Jesus answers, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" He asks them if they are able to be called to the same kind of service he is called to. They say that they are able.

Jesus then proceeds with his answer "The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared."

Jesus, in the passage just before this, predicted his death for a third time. It is after this that James and John ask this question. Meaning over meaning is overlaid in this answer as a result. With the previous prediction of death, Jesus intimately ties this to being called to his crucifixion. The drink he will be given is vinegar and baptism will become related to death in a new way. And, of course, who is on his right and left during his crucifixion is beyond his ability to grant (not that this was what James and John had in mind).

There is also a sacramental dimension to this answer, with the references to communion and baptism. Thought of in this way Jesus emphasizes what is at the heart of sacramental living. The sacraments celebrate and affirm our lives as a group, rather than emphasizing our individual identities.

Another consideration is that Jesus defines a new kind of providence in the crucifixion / call story we know so well. Crucifixion is hard to reconcile with being in God's protective care. It is no wonder that the disciples cannot understand what Jesus is predicting and telling them about everything that is to come. This is not the divine intervention they are expecting.

It is apparent James and John are unaware what they are asking, as Jesus observes. Jesus answers them truthfully and tells them about greatness in the eyes of the Lord, "You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many."

The new music introduced today was Chris Tomlin's I Will Follow which opened the service.

Where you go, I'll go
Where you stay, I'll stay
When you move, I'll move
I will follow you

Who you love, I'll love
How you serve I'll serve
If this life I lose, I will follow you
I will follow you

Light unto the world
Light unto my life
I will live for you alone
You're the one I seek
Knowing I will find

All I need in you alone, in you alone
In you there's life everlasting
In you there's freedom for my soul
In you there's joy, unending joy
And I will follow

This lyric made me think of about Jesus and what kind of service we are called to perform as Christ's body.

"Everyone is not called to the kind of service Jesus was called to do". What do we mean when we sing "How you serve I'll serve / If this life I lose, / I will follow you. I will follow you". Yes, this moves our hearts emotionally but is extremely challenging in reality. We talked about authenticity in our discussion of The Bigger Table on Thursdays and I reflected on those discussions together with two Bonhoeffer quotes and thought about the distance between them:

God became human so that humans could become truly human and humane.

When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

I weighed these quotes what Tomlin's heartfelt song declares that is so compelling.

Monday, January 29, 2018

January 28, 2018 - Fourth Sunday after Epiphany - Living / Playing / Singing the Good News

Today's worship was led by Creator Youth and Creator's special guest, Daniel Onyango from Nairobi, Kenya. The music was the glocal music the youth have sung in the past after learning them at an ELCA event. The Creator Youth also acted as Assisting Minister and read the Lessons,  Psalms and Prayers of the People.

The multicultural music was offered in different languages, with different musical styles, gestures and attitudes. This morning the congregation proclaimed the good news of God in Christ through the music with words that many listeners likely did not understand.

The Gospel reading, John 10:1-10, took on new meaning as a result. What stood out in this service was verse 3, "The gatekeeper opens his gate for him; and the sheep hear his voice".

The sheep follow because they know his voice, not because they necessarily understand the meaning of his words. Pastor Ray emphasized in the sermon that sheep have the inherent intelligence to recognize the face and voice of their shepherd.

Not translating all the lyrics in the worship bulletin caused the congregation to listen attentively. They participated more by the sound of what they heard rather than by what they read in front of them, which was in keeping with today's Gospel. Matt commented that the congregation participated more than in the past glocal worships and that the church's overall comfort with the music was increasing.

One piece the congregation did not know from the past was performed during the Offertory. Wastahili wewe Bwana was played by Daniel Onyango on the musical instrument he brought with him from Kenya, the nyatiti. The music he played was melodic and beautiful. Without understanding the Swahili the piece obviously provided a deeply reverential sharing of heart.

In the first book of the Bible, God establishes a covenant with Abraham, forms the Jewish nation, and declares in Genesis 12:3 that “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” The Old Testament contains multiple stories of people being stretched to include others unlike themselves. And in the last book of the Bible--indeed in a grand vision of the end of history--as recorded in Revelation 5:9, John witnessed twenty-four elders singing a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation”.

This worship brought this multicultural perspective from the Bible into sharp focus and lived out what today's Gospel highlights, namely how to trust in what we might initially find foreign or new. We take comfort in the language we normally use to describe God between and amongst ourselves.

Today when we sang Bwana in Swahili was that praise for "our" God (this is a question someone asked me which I will write more about in a moment)? What about the Spanish word Dios? Allah? Yahweh? El?  Judaism, Christianity and Islam all claim to be Abrahamic faiths and are classified as monotheistic. Should that make a difference from other religious expressions?

Obviously if this question was determined merely by different words for God in native languages there would an effort for all Christians to learn or use Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek or, perhaps, Latin languages and worship in, what for us, in North America anyway, would be a foreign tongue.

Interestingly this was on the person's mind who asked me before our Adult Forum meeting if I had confidence that the music in this service was, indeed, worshipping "our" God.  He wasn't sure because the words weren't in English. Referring him back to today's Gospel reading seemed the best answer. I could not answer for him but Jesus offers three criteria that Jesus trusted would give the confidence the questioner was seeking.

One is that the shepherd, concerned with well-being, does not come in as a thief or bandit but enters through the gate. In this case I would suspect this to mean he comes through the gateway of our heart. Anyone who comes in another gateway; including; but not limited to; our fear, our greed or our narcissism should be resisted. For me this worship music exceedingly passes this "heart test".

Another criteria is closely related, Jesus not only comes in but serves as this "gateway" of our hearts. This service was designed to be invitational and expansive by including others in a vision of God that is expressed throughout all of scripture. I only felt Christian invitation in what the youth allowed us to experience today.

The last is the confidence to know by voice the one who comes that we may have abundant life. I heard that voice throughout worship today.

I would say Creator's worship is not as multicultural as we might dream. On Sundays like this, however, there is a respect and honor of cultural norms and attitudes that is humbling.  Creator can focus on individuals who gather as a community of faith and can also pay attention to what connects them to God. The congregation promotes meaningful, multilevel worship. Sometimes Creator will fall short but always tries to grow in this deeper awareness of the world. When that awareness does grow there is such an expansiveness in our personal and corporate visions of God.

The service ended with an energetic Salaam Alaikum:

May be peace be in your heart.
May be peace be in your home.
May be peace be in your land.
May be peace be in our world

Update: Link to video of Daniel Onyango's performance January 31st Wednesday on Creator's Facebook page.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

January 21, 2018 - Third Sunday after Epiphany - "Sacramentally" Living - Alice In Wonderland with Caterpillars and Polar Bears

I write down what I experience each week with Creator members. From my conversations with these fellow worshipers I know both my individual and our collective worship can be and, at least for most Sundays, is meaningful.

I recently reread the 2018 posts. So far, each of these recent Sunday epiphanies have built on one another - a number of  immediate, progressive revelations since the beginning of the year and today was no exception. In contrast, here is an observation about religion made by Abraham Heschel about religion as he observed it in 1955.

“It is customary to blame secular science and anti-religious philosophy for the eclipse of religion in modern society. It would be more honest to blame religion for its own defeats. Religion declined not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid. When faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by discipline, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past; when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion--its message becomes meaningless.”

Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism

God in Search of Man was published the year I was born. Perhaps this observation was more prophetic then. Now I must take exception in how this quote over-generalizes.

Religions are systematized traditions, rituals of faith and worship. When those traditions or rituals become irrelevant, dull, oppressive and insipid; blaming religion for what is lost rather than the loss of some spiritual imagination, inspiration or intuition of those worshiping seems to me to be passing the buck.

With that in mind I will move to writing what happened today when Pastor Ron presided because Pastor Ray was under the weather.

Epiphanies during the Children's Message are rare. This morning it happened for me when Pastor Ron voiced a line in a scene from his favorite movie as a kid. Specifically this was a scene from Alice in Wonderland where caterpillar asks, "Who are you?"  (click the link for the video). He asked the children how they would answer the hookah-smoking caterpillar's question "Who are you?". He subsequently gave them an answer for their consideration "A Child of God".

How Pastor Ron imitated, in a deep, spooky voice, the caterpillar from the Disney film made me pay attention. His voice conjured up my memories of the film but there was another quality that was apparent. A quality beyond our everyday world. I thought about voices from the many different, hidden worlds that Alice became exposed to when something about her was changed, in this case her size. Had she remained the girl she was when she went down the rabbit hole she would not have had a conversation with a caterpillar..

Of course a caterpillar, by its nature, conjures up an image of transformation that we can experience in our everyday world - a  life within a life - many have a future that is not yet visible. When Pastor Ron asked the children the caterpillar's question they gave him answers from our everyday world (as he expected), either their name, or what they did, with an interest thrown in.

His "A Child of God" answer moves our frame of reference from this everyday world to the Promised Land that I wrote about in other January and Advent epiphanies posts. For example, in a Wednesday Advent Study the discussion focused on what John answered when he was asked who he was.Watching the animated scene with this in mind was wild.  In the animation, the entertaining smoke that moves from one to another illustrates different messages (or letters) that pass between Alice and the caterpillar as they talk.

Pastor Ron started his sermon proper by powerfully quoting Neil Young lyrics off a song from his album Prairie Wind, When God Made Me. What these words conjured up for me was a question of how to live as being as nearly wholly (or holy) human, an American and also an inhabitant of this Promised Land. Here again, in the song title, the "prairie" evokes for me visions of pioneers. I was not expecting any of what I am labeling as progressive epiphanies in today's worship. Pastor Ron gave this sermon without the shared Creator Advent journey and past epiphany moments and yet here were more aha eye-openers. The Holy Spirit showed up as prairie wind this morning.

The sermon soon turned to how startling epiphany moments can be. Pastor Ron mentioned how some Christians will brave freezing temperatures and plunge into icy water to celebrate the Orthodox Epiphany. This age-old ritual for them commemorates the baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan River. He thought that the Polar Bear Clubs were linked to this ritual and, from the brief web research I did I believe he was right.

Some Orthodox Christians were in the original Polar Bear Clubs, plunging into the depths of rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, and oceans after the waters are blessed. There are photographs of church leaders in vestments, with icicles dripping from their eyebrows and beards, standing on the edge of a cross cut into the ice as the faithful slip beneath the frigid waters, to experience a stinging remembrance of their baptism and life after death.

Part of what is startling is how this ties neatly with the iceberg image of God that resurfaced in the 2017 year end summary blog. For cold water to have an ancient link to baptism was something I had not thought about before. I knew that water baptism, practiced by immersion in the early church, created a parallel between fish and converts. I once read a quote from the second-century theologian Tertullian that "We, little fishes, after the image of our Ichthys, Jesus Christ, are born in the water." but icy waters with polar bears were not associated in my mind with baptism until this morning. They are now.

Pastot Ron closed with a thought on and for communion:

During communion Jesus re(members) us as the body of Christ and sends us out again as who we are but different.

As I reflected on some facts about polar bears. They are born on land and yet possess the ability to gracefully swim and be at home in the ocean. They live in two worlds, with a mixture of land and water spirits within them.

Monday, January 15, 2018

January 14, 2018 - Second Sunday after Epiphany - Can Anything Good Come Out of Nazareth?

A first epiphany last Sunday - among other events of the week - led to some aha moments this Sunday.

In today's Gospel Nathanael's skeptical question "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" echoed in what our President essentially asked days ago in a meeting over a DACA comprise. He asked in what he labeled himself as "tougher language" essentially the same question "Can anything good come out of Haiti? Can anything good come out of Nigeria? Can anything good come out of Africa?  

Nazareth was a backwater, a place with a bad reputation, not the sort of place where the right people lived at the time. Do you hear the echoes of judgment coming down through the ages?  And, of course, the answer to each and all these questions must be yes. The answer to be understood through Jesus (and by our faith that all men are created equal) is that the merit of any individual cannot be established by past, place or position.

Bonhoeffer once wrote "God became human so that humans could become truly human and humane."  Unfortunately we cannot imagine an end to the new and old man made distinctions people try to make but we can recognize when and how these distinctions contradict God and the gospel. Initially Christians were called people of The Way' (της οδου). Jesus pointed out the way by which these contradictions can be resolved in his answer to Nathanael's question:

"Come and see"

This week Pastor Ray began his Epiphany sermon series on living into our baptism. Today the sermon was focused on the topic: To Live Among God's Faithful People. This makes me think of Martin Luther's question "What does this mean?" and leads to the question "Who are these faithful people?" Pastor Ray reiterated something in his sermon this congregation knows very well. Oregon is a state where, when the population is surveyed will respond as spiritual but not religious.

Living among God's people should not be limited to a particular place or people. We can find our way to a church building and the people in it. If the Promised Land were physical we could travel there. When the Promised Land is not a physical place the boundaries are different. Here again our John reading is enlightening because "Come and see" is the answer not only to Nathanael's question but is an answer to how the disciples respond when Jesus asks "What are you looking for?" Their answer to him is "Where are you staying?".

This works on two levels. Ostensibly, they want to know where Jesus is staying because it is getting late in the day and they too need a place to stay. But since the Greek word translated as “stay” is menô, a word that also signifies a permanent remaining or abiding. "Where are you staying?" essentially asks where Jesus permanently abides, reflecting the innate desire of any disciple is to be in Jesus’ presence always.

The two disciples do not know this yet, but ultimately the place where Jesus resides is with his disciples, as he says in the Farewell Discourse (John 14:23 and John 15:4). In the meantime, Jesus invites them to “come and see,” an invitation that at one level means to go and look at where he is staying but at a deeper level is an invitation to approach Jesus with the openness to see him through the eyes of faith.

Spending time with Jesus transforms them, as seen in the change in titles they use to refer to him. At first they call him “rabbi,” a title of respect to be sure. But when the disciple identified as Andrew speaks of Jesus in verse 41, he refers to him by the more significant title of “Messiah.”

Another aha moment was the multiple times found as a word is used in reading,  We learn Simon Peter  found his brother Simon and tells him "We have found the messiah." Next Jesus found Philip and Philip found Nathaniel. Today found is the clue that something besides travel takes us to the place where Jesus resides in those who find the Promised Land.

And when we find the Promised Land we live among God's faithful people where we are promised that we will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.