Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.’ Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’ – John 1:45-46
At the beginning of December, Sister Mary Alice Murphy tracked me down. Sr. Mary Alice has been a fierce advocate for people experiencing homelessness in our community for decades – so much so that the local resource center is named The Sister Mary Alice Murphy Center for Hope. She had a project for me. The Center, which has recently come under new management, needed art work hung on its walls to transform it from being rather barren and institutional to a place of welcome.
It was the perfect job for me, an opportunity to use my creative talent to transform a space. I have done this before in church settings, using art to tailor an environment to the worship about to take place therein. Doing it successfully means listening well to the people wanting to make a contribution to the project as well as to those who will use the space.
So I hung out at the Murphy Center and listened to guests, staff and other volunteers. And after that, putting the art on the walls came together effortlessly, an expression of the enthusiastic participation of all those people.
“Come and see,” says Philip to his friend Nathanael. This is an invitation to Nathanael to leave whatever perspective he has been inhabiting, to come away from it and enter into a place of receptivity. “Come. Put aside your preconceived notions. Make room in your heart. Come away from whatever has limited you and made you impervious. Open up.
“And see. Freed of judgments formed in advance, test with all your senses. Test your perceptions of yourself as well as of others. Do not rest with your limited understanding. Ask questions. Listen with the ear of the heart. Take in what you are witnessing. Reevaluate how you are interpreting things.”
It is in the little moments of sharing that ministry happens. Knowing one another heart to heart, simply as people, is where we all both give and receive welcome and healing. It is also where we find Jesus, son of Joseph from Nazareth, the improbable Messiah.