Reflection for the Second Sunday of Epiphany
Finding Philip, Jesus said to him, “Follow me.”……. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one……. Come and see.” From today’s Gospel, John 1:43-51, NIV.
“I went there by accident when a friend suggested…..an outing to this extraordinary place…. I found myself walking gently on holy ground in my own land.” Martin Palmer, speaking of his visit to St Melangell’s.
St Melangell, her church and the valley were part of a Radio 4 programme on January 10th called “Sunday Worship” and it’s available on BBC sounds if anyone who missed it would like to hear it. Presented by Martin Palmer, he said that a friend had influenced his decision to come to this valley and that he found, unexpectedly, holy ground here. His reminiscence reminded me of a much earlier incident when, in today’s Gospel, Philip invites Nathanael to come and see Jesus of Nazareth – and Nathanael does, although he’s initially cynical. “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” he asks, just as Martin Palmer also thought this to be, “a small, lovely but also in many ways ordinary valley”. Both, however, found more than they had anticipated being revealed to them and unexpectedly encountered holiness when they allowed themselves to be influenced by invitations from those around them, Nathanael in having a powerful conversation with Jesus and Martin in finding holy ground in this valley.
People we know can exercise a huge influence on us, in all sorts of ways, just as we can affect them too. Looking back in life, it may be that there are various times when we now realise that something significant was revealed – or not – because we followed, or perhaps refused, the call: “Come and see.”
As the challenges of the pandemic continue, many people are being asked to come and see NHS personnel to have their vaccination – and some amazing things are happening when they do. Who would ever have thought that Salisbury cathedral, amongst others, would be the setting for a mass vaccination centre, with organ music playing as people followed others and waited their turn? Yet, it happened and those present found themselves, literally, on holy ground and being given hope for the future in a beautiful place where present needs are being served by those whose past vision and service created the reality of the hallowed building itself.
Many challenges still lie ahead and, from what’s happened recently in America, it’s clear that hallowed places can be the focus of many differing emotions and perceptions and that many followers often see things very differently. Whatever we’re looking at, and wherever we are, we all have our part to play as we participate in the battle against Covid-19 and daily decide whether or not to respond to Jesus’ call to “Follow me”. Prayer is a good way of listening for his voice and, as a new Presidency begins this week, America and her peoples are an important focus for prayer and the call of the Prince of Peace.
Perhaps one of the blessings of the ongoing situation is that, confined to our homes and local areas as many are, we may have the time and opportunity to be able to see more clearly than usual the heritage, beauty and needs that, amongst the ordinary things of life, are right here on our doorstep and, literally, often overlooked. When, despite it all, we find the will to come and see may we, like Nathanael, Martin and countless others, find that we, too, are unexpectedly on holy ground, finding “heaven in ordinary….the soul’s blood….something understood.” George Herbert: Prayer (1)
With my prayers,