We invite you to take a peek inside our Light for the Way devotional series. Each week we provide staff with an examination of a biblical reading to deepen our focus on scripture. Thank you for engaging with this series as we seek wisdom through prayer and reflection as a Christian Ministry.
This week, PHS joins in the ecumenical observance of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. With a history of more than 100 years, this annual observance inspires many Christians around the world to pray for unity. Today, in our Light for the Way series, Pastor Chris provides us with a reflection to recognize this special week in the life of the Church.
By Pastor Chris Wheatley, Senior Director of Pastoral Care Programming
“Philip found Nathanael and told him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’”
“‘Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?’ Nathanael asked.”
“‘Come and see,’ said Philip.” — John 1:45–46, NIV
As we celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, it can be tempting to imagine that we are trying to recreate a state of union from an ideal past. It is easy to pretend that the fears, prejudices and sins that divide us are recent developments, and that if we just look back a little ways, we’ll see a better way to live in harmony.
Today’s reading from the very first chapter of John tells a different story, and reminds us that the urge to separate, divide and judge is ancient and as old as the human race itself. Philip, one of the first disciples, has met Jesus and is amazed by all that he sees and hears. He runs to tell a friend, Nathanael, about Jesus, in the hopes that he will come and experience the same transformation. He tells him that Jesus is the one written about in the Books of the Prophets, that he is the fulfillment of God’s ancient promise and the one who they have been looking for throughout the centuries.
And Nathanael rejects him, sight unseen, for being from the wrong village. It’s like a bad joke. They are the same nationality, the same ethnicity, of the same religion and the same sect within that religion, from the same geographical region and the same social class...They are even both small-town boys whose villages didn’t appear on most maps of the area. Yet because Jesus was from the wrong small town, Nathanael isn’t interested.
Philip doesn’t even argue the point. He knows that you aren’t supposed to like the people of Nazareth (though we have no idea why). He just asks Nathanael to “come and see.” Give this person a chance and see what happens.
Well, we know the result in this case. Nathanael meets Jesus. Jesus amazes him with his wisdom, and Nathanael follows him until his death and beyond. Nathanael is changed, transformed and saved. This week, as we continue to pray for unity, let us be open to the same. Come and see.
Prayer for Today: Holy God, you invite us to see Jesus in our midst. We know it is your great desire, expressed by Jesus, that we might bear witness, inviting others to come and see him so that together, as your people we may abide in him. Faced with the difference of ‘the other’, we risk withdrawing into ourselves and seeing only that which separates us. Instead, let us see Jesus who waits for us tirelessly, hoping that, united to him in love, we may be one as he is one with you. Amen
More Resources: The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, hosted by the World Council of Churches, involves Christian communities from many traditions and all parts of the globe. The Council shares these resources and daily prayers to encourage us to stand together.
In addition to Light for the Way, you can find reflections, devotions, music, and other resources on the Pastoral Care website. We suggest saving the link or bookmarking the page, so you can check back often.