35 The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!’ 37The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. (John 1:35-37)
A few years ago I was at a retreat where this verse was used for our morning Lectio Divina exercise. We were asked to identify the word that grabbed us. My word was “again”. — What? — Why “again”? — Why couldn’t I have a cooler word, Lord?
As I began to wonder and pray about what this word “again” might mean for me; I realized I was really anxious and angry about having to start a new program year at the church and all the monotony that would come with it. I would have to try and make Jesus become really important to a bunch of youth again. I would have to try and motivate a congregation to support their youth again. I would have to convince parents that they play the primary role in the faith formation of their kids again. It all seemed so exhausting to me.
I began to hear the Good News as I listened deeper to my fears, to this word, and to the rest of this verse. This is the work that we are called to do! To be there again and again. To point and say “Look, the Lamb of God!” again and again. John answered this same call – again – and his two disciples heard him and followed Jesus.
This poem was read to some of our faculty at Augsburg by one of our Dean’s. It too is good news as you prepare to begin your work – again.
To Be of Use by Marge Piercy
The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.
I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.
I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.
The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.
The work you do is real. Very real. It is my prayer that you might know the realness of this work Christ has called you to as you pull like a water buffalo – again, as you strain in the mud and muck – again, as you submerge in the task – again and go into the field – again.
You have been called and blessed by God. You have been called to point and to proclaim – again and again and again. They will hear you and they will follow Jesus. Your work is very real – again.