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March 18th, 2018

Sermon: "Sir, We Wish To See Jesus!"

Sermon preached at Meade Memorial Episcopal Church in Alexandria, VA on March 18, 2018.
5th Sunday in Lent, Year B (RCL): Jeremiah 31: 31-34; Psalm 51:1-13; Hebrews 5:5-10; John 12:20-33

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in us the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth. Amen.

Some time ago, I heard a story about a vicar who was moved to tears the very first time he was asked to preach at the church where he was serving. It wasn’t the invitation to preach that brought tears to his eyes, but what he saw the first time he stood in the pulpit. The church, I came to find out, is Trinity Church at Copley Square in Boston, Massachusetts.

Phillips Brooks, the author of “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” and a graduate of Virginia Theological Seminary, served Trinity Church as their rector, and helped shepherd that congregation through the tragedy of a fire which destroyed their building. Consequently, Brooks became responsible for one of the masterpieces of American nineteenth-century church architecture that is Trinity Church. He had a very direct role in Trinity’s design. However, there is one small feature that is only apparent to those who preach there.

As this vicar ascended the pulpit to preach, he noticed a little bronze plaque attached to the interior wall, which had six simple words, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” That very moment, that preacher looked out into his congregation, as I am looking out upon you now, to see the people of God as they really are: pilgrims on the Way who are seeking after Jesus.

“Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”

In our Gospel reading today, now the Greeks have come. Who are these Greeks? I’ll tell you – we aren’t sure. Scholars differ in their assessment. Some think they are those ‘other sheep, not of this flock,’ Gentiles who now have heard the voice of their Shepherd. The Greeks might also be Jews who traveled and have settled away from the homeland. Either way, they want to see Jesus. They probably learned about the raising of Lazarus, for news of that recent miracle quickly spread throughout the land, and they have come to see about this Jesus.

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