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Monthly Archives: January 2015

Fishing is Holy Work (Mark 1:14-20)

Have you ever heard this gospel story before? Jesus goes up to four fishermen and tells them to follow him and they will fish for people. And they do it. The gospel writer says they dropped their fishing nets immediately and followed him to fish for people.

It’s interesting that Jesus does not call these fishermen when they are in church or when they’re praying; he meets them in their everyday lives where they actually live and work. He goes to them in their life. And since they are fishermen, he calls them with fishing language, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”

How do you think Jesus would have called them if they had been carpenters? “Follow me and I will make you hammer for people? Or secretaries? Or health care workers? Or engineers? Or students? Or people out of work? Think of your own work or anywhere you spend a lot of your time. How would Jesus call you to follow? We’ll come back to that.

When Jesus asks these fishermen to follow him, he isn’t asking them to play follow the leader, but, “Be my disciple. Do what I do. Get to know me so that my ways become your ways.” They didn’t fully leave their lives as fishermen; after the resurrection they were still fishing. Now, rather than being fishermen first who happen to like Jesus, they are disciples first, who are sent to do Christ’s work as fishermen.

Following Jesus doesn’t mean leaving our jobs and our families behind us. It means recognizing that as workers, as part of families, as part of our neighborhoods we are called to be there as disciples of Jesus. We aren’t called away from work and life to be disciples; we are sent into work and life as disciples.

For Martin Luther (perhaps you’ve heard of him), he called the roles we have in our lives our vocations. All the various responsibilities and roles that we have in life are specific opportunities God calls us into to show God’s love, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness. We are sent by Jesus to reveal Jesus in the very places where we live our lives.

This is the call of our baptism. We are marked with the sign of the cross and become disciples as our primary identity. That is first.

So, now, how would Jesus call you in your life? “Follow me and I will make you _____________ for people.” That is real. Have you ever really thought about what you do as your call from Jesus? That you are sent by Jesus into the very places where you work, play, volunteer, study, spend time?

You are called to holy work, holy vocations. As disciples. As followers of Jesus. As revealers of Jesus’ love and mercy.

Since we have been sent to do holy work by Jesus, we have an opportunity to share that. Through our relationship with Green Mountain High School, they have asked us to mentor some of their students in the holy work you are involved in, your vocations, your jobs. God may be calling students to be architects, veterinarians, therapists, artists, writers, office workers, plumbers, truck drivers, nurses, lawyers, teachers, and more. There are students at GMHS who would like to consider those vocations, may be called into those vocations, but aren’t sure how to go about it.

So our Neighborhood Church Task Force has developed a Career Mentoring Ministry to help them. Jeff Simley is in the back to answer questions and offer help to follow Jesus in our vocations.

Follow me, Jesus says, and I will make you fish for people.

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Posted by on January 26, 2015 in Sermon

 

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Epiphany: God’s Surprise (Matthew 2:1-12)

The gospel text for Epiphany is always the story of the Magi in Matthew 2. They saw the light, an unusual star, and followed it to Palestine, where, naturally, they went to Jerusalem. Where else would a king be born? They go to the king to inquire where the new king was to be found. King Herod consults the priests and elders, then sends magi to Bethlehem and they find the baby Jesus, and offer him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Familiar story, right? It usually gets lumped into the Christmas story with the shepherds and the manger. All of our Nativity Scenes have Mary & Joseph, Jesus in a manger, shepherds, and three kings, right?

There are lots of myths and stories about these Magi, very little of which is actually known to be true. Magi were NOT kings, NOT wise men. Instead, they were pagan, dream-interpreting, fortune-telling, psychic hot-line, Tarot card readers. They represent to Mary and Joseph and other good religious people of the day idolatry and religious hocus-pocus, those who told the future using chicken gizzards and tea leaves. They were not royal, respected, or educated. They were everything the people of God were not.

Yet in Matthew’s gospel, they are the first to come and worship the Christ child. God called them—of all people—God revealed to them the newborn king, the Savior of the world.

God didn’t come to the magi because of the purity of their doctrine, the morality of their lives, or the correctness of their faith! God came to them, called them, gave them an epiphany because God’s love includes everyone. Jesus has come for the sake of everyone.

God came to them in a different way, but a way they could recognize—through a star. God entered their lives and called them from within their own lives and their own experience. Like God does for all of us, God enters our world, our lives, our particularities and reveals God’s own self in ways we can recognize.

That’s first: are we paying attention as God comes into our lives with epiphanies, working in ways we don’t expect? When was the last time God surprised you?

Let me tell one. I volunteer as a big brother with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado. In December they held a holiday party for the 25 or so Bigs and Littles that are part of our local program. The sponsor for this party is a financial company that buys past-due loans and muscles people into paying them. A long time ago I was on the wrong end of a company like this, and it wasn’t a good experience.

But for this party, this company provided a full meal for all these Bigs and Littles plus their families. They gave all the kids an opportunity to earn Monopoly money and use it to go into a room and buy presents for their families that this company had provided. They then gave each of the 25 Littles a personal gift based on their individual interests. And finally, they gave each Little, 25 of them, a new laptop computer. The generosity shown these families that are enduring some hardships blew me away. And it made me angry. What business did these people have being part of God’s generosity? That is reserved for us, the godly people! It was God’s own generosity, coming from a company that I didn’t want it to come from. An epiphany. A surprise.

Pay attention for God’s epiphanies. They’ll surprise you. And they change you.

We recognize in a new way God’s forgiveness, then we are drawn more deeply to forgive.

We recognize in a new way God’s generosity, then we are drawn more deeply to be generous.

We recognize in a new way God’s mercy, then we are drawn more deeply into mercy.

Is your capacity for forgiveness increasing? Are you becoming more generous? Are you showing more mercy? Pay attention, because the good news is that God is doing these things in you and around you every day.

Pay attention. Be ready. The star of Bethlehem is even now shining in our lives. God is revealing God’s self—an epiphany. Watch for the star, God’s presence in your life, be surprised where you discover forgiveness, generosity, compassion. Then watch for God to allow you to have the ability to offer forgiveness, generosity, compassion. God’s love includes everyone. Even you. Jesus has come for the sake of everyone. Even you.

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2015 in Sermon

 

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