In Sunday’s Gospel reading (John 1:43-51) we had the question of Nathanael, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” to which Philip answered, “Come and see.” (v.46).
People today sometimes ask a similar question, “Can anything good come out of Elizabeth?” to which we probably should reply, “Come and see!”
Jan and I recently watched a recording of the ducu-movie “Working Class Boy,” which is the story of the life of Jimmy Barnes as told by Jimmy Barnes himself. I am not a fan of his music and certainly don’t condone his past “Drugs, sex and Rock ’n Roll” lifestyle. However it was interesting and enlightening to hear the story of how he struggled to grow up in Elizabeth, living initially in Heytesbury Road, not far from our church building. If I knew nothing about Elizabeth (or indeed Adelaide) I could easily form a very negative view of Elizabeth and Adelaide from watching the movie. My analysis was that it was not so much where Jimmy Barnes grew up that impacted him in such a negative way, but that his former dysfunctional Swan family had poverty, violence and alcoholism woven through it long before leaving Scotland to immigrate to Australia.
But even so, people still ask the question in various ways, “Can anything good come out of Elizabeth?” Like Nazareth, it is often viewed as a bit of a backwater where no one succeeds much in life. But when Nathanael met Jesus, his view of things changed radically. And we have Jesus. No matter where anyone lives, Jesus makes the difference.
There are many broken people around us who we may be unaware of. Jimmy Barnes was a very broken person in his youth. His story reminded me of a fellow named Greg who attended high school with me in my youth. I didn’t realize then just how broken he was until just at the end of last year. Greg was always in trouble at school and did a lot of crazy things. On a Facebook school forum I enquired about him from a man who had the same last name and who turned out to be Greg’s half brother. The half brother’s answer to my enquiry was that Greg had a very sad life, always on the wrong side of the law and died way too early from a drug overdose at Mobilong Prison. I don’t know how long ago it was, but I got the impression it was quite a long time ago. The half brother went on to say that at the age of 4 things began a downward spiral for Greg when he witnessed his uncle blow his head off with a shotgun. Broken, damaged and out of control. I was able to join the dots now. High school was the darkest time of my life and I was naive then and couldn’t see things then the way I can now. Could I have changed things if I knew then what I know now? Probably not. But it just goes to show that we just never know what it is going on the lives of others or why they behave the way they do.
So can any good thing come out of Elizabeth? Come and see! Jesus is here with us and He can change lives. Evie Tornquist used to sing, “There are so many things that money can buy, but it won’t buy peace of mind no matter how hard you try. Broken up people need brand new lives.” (Broken Up People – Daniels)
We may not be able to fix the lives of broken up people ourselves. They need brand new and eternal lives that only Jesus can give. Whatever negative perceptions some may have about Elizabeth, may St Peter’s Elizabeth be a place where people can be introduced to Jesus and put their faith in Him. Some good things can come out of Elizabeth because of Jesus and so the message from our church to our community should be, “Come and see!”