Monday, January 27, 2014

Sermon for Year A Epiphany 3


We are at the Sea of Galilee.
Andrew and his brother Simon Peter are hard at work.
Casting their nets into the sea.
It’s what they do every day.
They are fishermen.

But in the middle of the morning,
they stop.
What is that they hear?

(Sound of the Andy Griffith show theme song--FISHING HOLE--being whistled from the back of the church by Chris & Tim Rhodes)

You see Jesus is out and about.
Fishing for some disciples.
His must have been a powerful invitation,
because Andrew and Simon Peter drop their nets and follow him--
immediately, says the gospel.

Follow me
and I will make you fish for people.

And then Jesus passes two other brothers,
James and John.
They are with their father Zebedee,
not fishing at the moment,
but in the boat mending their nets.

When Jesus calls,
they jump out of the boat,
leaving the boat and their father,
and off they go.
Immediately says the gospel.

Follow me.

Last week in the gospel we had slow Jesus.
Rather kicked back, chilling out Jesus.
Getting to know you Jesus.

But this week.
Jesus has put the pedal to the metal
and he and his disciples are getting down to business.

Going throughout Galilee.
Teaching in the synagogues,
proclaiming God’s good news,
healing the sick.

This week Jesus and the disciples
are AMONG the people.

AMONG the people.

Matthew’s gospel  strives to prove to the people of Israel
that this man, Jesus, really is the Messiah
for whom they were waiting.

Isaiah says the Messiah will begin his ministry in Galilee.
And where is Jesus today?

Galilee was an interesting spot to begin a ministry.
Galilee is Gentile territory.
Jesus was a brave and inclusive sort.

Today we live in world concerned with resumes
and job experience
and references.
This was obviously not the approach Jesus takes.

Why on earth would Jesus have thought these fishermen
would be good disciples?
Great disciples, in fact.

From what we will hear in the gospels and beyond,
these disciples listened and they followed.
But we have no clue as to their qualifications--
if indeed they had any.

in fact, we learn in later chapters of the gospels,
that these disciples had some faults.
Quick tempers, falling asleep on the job,
urging Jesus to ignore children and women.

But there must have been something.
There must have been some reason
that Jesus calls them.

Just as there must be some mysterious reason
that Jesus calls us.

We aren’t called to ministry because we are perfect.
We aren’t called to ministry because we will never make another mistake.
Perhaps the only reason we are called
is because we are crazy enough to say YES!
Okay! I will give it a try.

We will give this trying to love God
and love one another--no exceptions--a try.
We will cast our nets and throw our line
into this fishing hole of the world around us
because we think,
we think,
there just might be some hungry fish out there.
We remember our own hunger for God,
our own longing for the holy.

The collect today says GIVE US GRACE TO ANSWER THE CALL.
This collect is for all of us.

Ponder what calls you.
What have you heard?  What are you hearing?
What would make you jump out of the boat of your everyday life
and head off into the unknown?

This is not about being foolish or fool-hearty.
It is about careful listening.
it is about being open to receiving God’s grace
so that we can HEAR when God calls us.
Or at least do our very best to hear.

Today’s gospel resonates deeply with me right now.
I am about to jump out of a boat
that has fed me, kept me safe,
and taking me on quite a few journeys,
some wonderful and some challenging.
A boat I have loved being in for 6-1/2 years.
I am about to jump out of this boat
and follow Jesus to Vermont.

Really, Jesus?
Won’t the water up there be too frozen to set sail?

But what I hear is this:
Don't worry about the obstacles,
all the reasons to say no.

What I hear is this:
Follow me.
Follow me.

James and John did not leave their father Zebedee
because there was trouble at home;
they left because they were called
and they could not say no.
They loved their father,
just as I love you, good and faithful people of St. John’s.
But they knew it was time to jump out of the boat
and follow a new call.

God has given me the grace to say yes to this call.
Just as God gave me the grace to leave St. Mary of the Hills
6-1/2 years ago
and say yes to a call to come to St. John’s.

St. John’s.
What a fine boat this is!
I have no doubts that this is a boat,
a ship that will keep sailing well.
I have no doubts
that you are people who know how to fish
and that your nets will be full,
abundantly full.

That theme song from Andy Griffith
that Chris and Tim whistled at the beginning of this sermon?
The title of that whistled tune isTHE FISHING HOLE.

I wonder.
Maybe Jesus really was whistling that day
when he walked by the Sea of Galilee.

Maybe that is what caused Andrew and Simon Peter and James and John
to look up, to listen,
and to know their lives
were being set to a different tune,
that they were to follow this man named Jesus.
No matter the cost.

I don’t care how immediately they followed,
it still had to be terrifying in so many ways,
to leave everything and everyone they knew.
They knew how to catch fish
but they had not a clue
how to do what Jesus was asking them to do.
But they still said yes.

That is really all God asks of us.

When you hear God calling,
and you are pretty certain it is God
and not your ego or self-created agenda,
say YES.

Say yes to bring a package of disposable diapers.
Say yes to bringing cans of food.
Say yes to sharing your dreams.
Say yes to fixing a broken faucet or hosting coffee hour.
Say  yes to building a house for habitat or balancing the budget
or setting the altar or gathering for worship and prayer.
Say yes to healing or serving the chalice
or singing in the choir.
Say yes to the million and one ways we can show our love for God
and for one another.

The amazing thing about ministry
is that the more we give,
the more we offer,
the more we share,
it seems like the more we whistle a happy tune.

Follow me, says Jesus.
Follow me.
Come on down to the fishing hole
and I will make you fish for people.

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