We have wonderful windows in this church, and you have the pleasure of looking at most of them. What you rarely notice are the four western windows behind you depicting the four evangelists, Matthew, Mark Luke and John. These are well known because of the gospels attributed to them. As we know, the apostles included 12, each of whom has been designated a saint. They were followed by countless others we have similarly determined to be saints. Another is featured in our church and you surely know who I am talking about. Yes St. Bede. 8th century in England
We have deemed all to be saints because of their extraordinary achievements, character or faith. That’s all very well and noble, but if we are not careful we can miss the point. We are all members of the one body. God revealed himself through Jesus to call all people into union with him, the essence of sainthood. Do you feel called to sainthood or holiness? Why not? Let’s turn to the gospel to learn what we can from the story of the calling of Nathanael.
NATHANAEL & HIS LESSON
The gospel commences with Jesus calling Philip, presumably friends or acquaintances with Andrew and Peter having come from the same village. Philip looks for and finds his friend Nathanael and encourages him to come and meet the one their nation has waited for. On meeting Jesus, Jesus declares, ‘here is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit’. Nathanael is deeply touched that Jesus so perceives him even though he does not recall ever having met Jesus.
This is the specialness of Nathanael’s story. In a word, Jesus is indicating that God knows us way before we realize it. It echoes the great words of Jeremiah. God knows us before we were born, yet still in our mothers womb. Nathanael asked him, where did you get to know me?” implying I’ve never met you before so how can you say something so complementary about me. Jesus responds, ‘I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you’. We never find out the detail of what Jesus saw, but I think that is the beauty of the comment.
Nathanael has his own story. We all have our own story...
We can speculate on the fig tree and what Nathanael might have been doing. What ever it was, Jesus saw the best of Nathanael at that moment, even though Nathanael had no idea.What Jesus saw he wanted, so he called Nathanael to follow him
OUR STORY & BEING KNOWN
What we see here is the essence of spiritual awakening. It is the discovery that we are known. People often think of spiritual awakening as when we discover God. But more accurately it is an awakening to the fact that God already knows us. Being known is an interesting phenomenon.
A simple contemporary psychological illustration makes a good point. It divides a window into four. The top horizontal axis illustrates what we know about ourselves. The less comfortable realization is that the left hand vertical axis illustrates what others know about us.
So we end up with four different awarenesses.
1. What we and others know about ourselves.
2. What we know but others don’t
3. What others know about us but we don’t
4. What neither we nor others know about ourselves.
Spiritual awakening emerges out of this fourth domain. Spiritual awakening reveals that God knows absolutely everything about us.We know we are known and hence we know we are one with God. Nathanael discovered he was known by God even in ways he did not know himself. He knew he belonged, for he realized he was known by God.
In the quietness of this summer reflective season I encourage you to make space for a quiet reflective time and ask the question...God what do you know about me that I have never realized?
You may be surprised. In this awakening is the voice of our calling, yes, to be his saints.
As they say, are you prepared to buy that?