01/26/2020: What Would You Have Done?
Isaiah 9: 1-4;
Matthew 4: 12-23
A Sermon by Reverend Gretchen Jones Switzer
For many, many generations, when we heard that somebody was “called,” we immediately thought of Christian Clergy and nuns. Back the late seventies and early eighties, there were those who began teaching that we are all called in one way or another. They were harkening back to the “priesthood of all believers,” which as a basis of the teachings of Martin Luther, who referred to 1 Peter 2:9 which calls the church as a “royal priesthood.” The idea is that anyone who believes is a minister. Pastors are ordained to a particular role in Christ’s community, but others are called as well, – to be teachers and to be doctors, or to be able to share the love of God with others in any context. What Luther taught is that the only place these lay ministers will come from is within the church and the reality of a strong, loving faithful community who can send people out to particular ministries or be here as a support while someone is beginning to exercise their Holy calling.
Now, when I said Holy calling right there, you thought of some of the pastors you have known personally or you pictured a priest, but the fact is that God uses us all for ministry, too. So, let’s talk about that.
The Gospel this morning is about John the Baptist who had died and Jesus knows it is now time to gather his first disciples – men who had careers as fishermen. They knew how to go to sea and find fish, catch them and bring them home. We don’t even know if these guys were Jews like Jesus or if they ever went to synagogue. We only know that when Jesus saw Peer and Andrew, he recognized them as two men God had already chosen to be with him. Jesus tells them he will make them fishers of people and they drop their nets to follow him. They don’t go home to saying goodbye to their families, they don’t ask for extra time to use the bathroom or grab some lunch. They don’t even ask Jesus who he is or what he means. They simply drop their nets, and leave the lives they had been living all along. They don’t look back; they just climb out of the boat and walk away with Jesus.
Likewise, James and John, who are sitting in their father’s boat mending fishing nets. They hear Jesus voice calling them by name and they simply crawl out of their dad’s fishing boat, done seem to say goodbye to their father or the family business. They just walk toward Jesus and follow him throughout the region of Galilee, listening to him teach, watching as he healed people, learning to do it themselves.
We can almost hear them talking around the fire one night early on saying, “This guy is amazing! Did you see what he did for that man who couldn’t walk, he just prayed and reached out his hand and Joe stood up and he walked. Oh my gosh, I even saw him running when heard his wife was coming down the road. Leapt into her arms he did, when a moment before his legs were useless.” Another follower said, “I don’t know why I walked away from my dad like that, there was something about Jesus, I knew I was supposed to follow him, no matter what! I don’t understand it, even now, but I know I am where I am supposed to be.”
“Me too!” said his brother.
My friends, where are you supposed to be? Are you doing what God would have you be doing? If you had been there, would you have hopped out of your boat and followed Jesus?” If Jesus came in here right now and pointed at you asking you to follow, would you get up? Would you go? And What would God want you to do anyway? To use you’re a faith to encourage others? To tell them wat Jesus means to you? To offer an extra bit of strength and love to someone who is struggling, whether you know them or not?
Maybe God doesn’t need you to pick up and leave your home, or quit your job or shun your family. Maybe God put you right here, right now, to make a difference. We can make a huge impact on the world just by living faithfully. We can feed those who hunger for food, but also those who hunger for companionship or yearn for meaning in their lives. WE can take the talents and skills God has already given us and help somebody build their home or repair it. We can bake bread and cookies for an organization that helps the hungry or the homeless. In this bitter, bitter cold, we could buy a bunch of sleeping bags and blankets and give them to those who are out on the street in nearby communities, and maybe when we deliver the sleeping bags, we could talk with these folks and learn about their situations and their needs. Perhaps we pray with them and for the. Or leave them with a bible verse, even on a ragged old piece of paper from our pocket, to gibe them hope or let them know God loves them. We do not have to do huge, monumental things to make the world better in honor of God. The smallest gesture can make a world of difference. We are ALL CALLED to answer God’s call to service in whatever way we can! We can no longer allow ourselves to walk by need without noticing. When Jesus called the first four disciples in the story today, he told them, I am going to use your skills to help you help others. You know how to fish; I will show you how to use what you already know to tell people about the love of God. You know engineering or finance or the law, I will show you how to use that to help the world. Isaiah put it this way: “There will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Those who live in a land of deep darkness on them as light shined.”
I believe that God is the light, but what Jesus tells us is that we, you and I, are the bearers of that light. God has chosen us, God has trained us, God has called us.
How will we answer?