Go and see
By Rev. Patrick D. Heery
Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
Reflection: In a particularly delightful scene in Yann Martel’s book Beatrice and Virgil, Virgil attempts to explain to Beatrice what a pear is. Beatrice has never experienced a pear. After five pages of trying to help Beatrice understand, Virgil gives up with a shrug, saying, “A pear tastes like, it tastes like . . . I don’t know. I can’t put it into words. A pear tastes like itself.”
Imagine it: trying to explain a pear to someone who has never seen or tasted a pear.
Philip faced the same problem when trying to tell Nathanael about Jesus. What’s interesting is that Philip doesn’t get mad or walk away; he looks Nathanael in the eye and says, “Come and see for yourself.” So, Nathanael does. And it’s that direct encounter with Jesus that causes Nathanael to believe.
We’re not supposed to just tell people about the kin-dom of God; we’re supposed to invite them in. I could tell a man about a pear, but better, I think, to let him taste that pear for himself. So too with God. And peace. We do not teach. We invite.
Peace is not only about vulnerability and relationship; it is about daring to come and see the truth of a people—their struggle, their dreams, their blessedness. This week you’re going to hear from travel study participants through the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program; they’re going to tell you where they went and what they saw.
Action: Instead of trying to convince someone of the merits of faith or justice, why not invite them instead to serve alongside you at a soup kitchen, or worship with you in a prison, or visit an immigrant detention center? Today, go and see for yourself the people whose lives cry out for peace, and bring a friend.
Prayer: O Christ, find us yet again in the dark of our doubts, fears, and ignorance. Take us by the hand and say again, “Come and see.” Reveal yourself in the faces of those we see, and lead us to truth. Amen.
Rev. Patrick D. Heery is the pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Auburn, New York, and is the former editor of Presbyterians Today and Unbound: An Interactive Journal of Christian Social Justice.
This year’s A Season of Peace resources are designed to help Presbyterians explore different forms and lenses for peacemaking. From the personal level to global issues like human trafficking and sustainable development, these reflections and prayers will help grow the faith and witness of the whole church. Through the days of this year’s A Season of Peace, we are invited to reflect on:
- Peace that passes understanding: personal testimonies of faith and peace within self, within families, within communities
- Partners in peace: interfaith work for peace and justice, building peace between us while witnessing to peace in our wider world
- Go and see: reflections from travel study seminar participants
- The church and its witness: reflections on addressing trafficking in its varied forms
- Peacemaking and practice: stories and reflections on building bridges and crossing divide
Each author represents a variety of vocations and experiences in peacemaking efforts. Individuals and households are invited to make use of these daily reflections beginning on Sunday, September 2, and concluding on World Communion Sunday, October 7.