Not an Easy Calling

Scriptures: Jonah 3:1-5, 10, 1 Corinthians 7:29-31, Mark 1:14-20
Let us pray:
In the divine silence of our souls, help us, O Lord to discern the calling of your voice, to see that which your Light illumines, and to put into practice your will for us in this time and place. Amen.

Discipleship is both a moment and a lifetime. Those are the words commentator Elton W. Brown speaks concerning today’s passage in Mark.
For the moment, like Simon, Andrew, James, and John, deciding to follow Jesus is a single moment without looking back. Some of you may have come from that stream of salvation history. But it is never that easy, is it? Sure, some of us may have been baptized into the family of God as adults, when we made up our minds and agreed that Jesus really is the One who saves – but does our journey of faith grow deeper right away or is it back to work and our normal lives once Sunday is over?
Others of us have been nurtured in the faith since our baptism as babies when our communities of faith promised to raise us up in the faith; and boy, can child-rearing be challenging…most of you know that, of course, but I’m still in the throes of finding out all about it!
I think it does take, though, a moment by moment decision to be followers, to live by a higher standard. On Saturday, the young church families group that my family fellowships with from First Presbyterian Church in Portland met for ice skating at the Lloyd Center Mall. One of the families brought several refugee guests from another country…and another faith. I do not know their full story, but the three sisters all wear head coverings. The church family who brought them also brought their teenage daughter and one of her friends. As they were standing in line for skates, she made a political comment and spoke, verbatim, some of the bad words that have been heard of late coming out of the mouth of our head of government. Surprised, I said, “Excuse me?” She repeated them to me and said, “that’s what he said…” I stood there utterly flabbergasted for a split second; then I replied “but we do not have to repeat bad words, and in fact we can live at a higher standard than that.”
Discipleship – witnessing to a higher standard, is not an easy calling in cultures that have deviated from the Third Way – the way of love, the way of respect, the way of kindness, the Way of Christ. As we move into another year of challenging cultural deviations from Heavenly Kingdom living, I find it even more important that as disciples of Christ, we live and move and have our beings fully engaged, fully participatory, fully present in a life marked by God’s way. Following Christ, the essence of discipleship, also means that we become the examples for the world that desperately needs to see goodness.
I’m not just talking about contemporary sociopolitical realities or secular acculturation. For our lifetimes, can you sense your place in the stream of salvation history, the story of God’s people who follow and fall, renew and respond, witness and welcome any and all to the heavenly banquet?
What I would like you to do now, for the next few minutes, is share with a neighbor how you have become a disciple, following the way of Christ. How do you follow? How do you witness?

(Discussion of questions with your pew neighbors)

Such is our calling. Professional and lay alike, we are representatives of the greatest, highest standard of loving kindness in relationship offered to the world. It is not an easy calling, no. But it is the best calling we could receive.
May all glory be unto the One who lived, died, and rose for us, even Him who is the Christ. Amen? May it be so.

Additional Questions for Reflection

  • Have you had seasons of eager discipleship when you dropped your nets and followed? What about times when you fell asleep when Jesus needed you most?
  • How do you think Zebedee felt about James and John taking off and leaving him behind with the family business? Are there times that faithfulness to Jesus puts us at odds with responsibilities to family and friends?
  • What are some skills that fishermen and fisherwomen have that might be useful to Christian discipleship?
  • Take a look at other biblical passages that mention fish, fishing or nets. For example: Jeremiah 16:16, Ezekiel 47:10 and Matthew 13:47. Notice any consistent themes? Marked differences?
  • Could it be that Simon, Andrew, James and John were happy to leave their work and follow Jesus? Are there days you wish Jesus would say: “Leave everything and follow me”?
  • If you aren’t called to drop everything and follow Jesus, what smaller things might you be called to drop or stop in order to follow Jesus more closely or better?

Household Prayer: Morning

Loving God, no matter what I am facing today— mourning or gladness, buying or selling— help me to focus on you throughout it all. Then bring me home safely to you. Amen.

Household Prayer: Evening

Loving God, thank you for the assurance that I live forgiven and loved by you. I need your grace and want to share your grace with others.  As I face this night, help me to pour out my heart to you and then rest in peace. Amen.

About Scottrick

Parent ~ Pastor ~ Poet ~ Author
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