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Sermons

The Jesus Team

1/25/2015 Third Sunday after Epiphany  The text for today is Mark 1:14-20.

Grace and peace to you from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Well, today is one of those days when I didn’t expect to see many of you here.  Yesterday’s snow storm usually has that effect on church attendance, and the same is true for next week’s Super Bowl…especially with the Patriots playing.  Of course, the game doesn’t start until well after worship services, but many die-hard football fans begin celebrating at the crack of dawn.

Now, I must admit that I’ve never really understood all the hype over a football game.  I’ve never gotten into that sport.  I may watch a game or two – like the Super Bowl or playoffs – but I’ve never been fascinated by watching grown men trip, tackle and trample one another all in an effort to get an odd shaped ball over the goal line or through the posts.  What I do understand about the game is although people like Tom Brady may shine in the spotlight, the game requires teamwork, and teamwork requires cooperation, and cooperation means putting self-glory on the shelf in order to achieve a goal (pun intended).  For, the team can’t win if your only concern is how many accolades you will receive during the course of the game.  So coaches, like Belichick, spend time rallying the troops, building up the collective ego, getting all the players ready for the big game.

On a day like next Sunday, I would love to be a fly on the wall in the locker room, listening to the coach’s final pep talk before the players take the field.  I’m sure that it will not take much to convince the players that they can win.  They’ve seen the results of their efforts all season long.  They know their weaknesses and strengths.  They know that they will need to play their best in order to win against a tough opponent.  And, they also know what a win will bring them – honor and fame, and a trip to Disney.  But is there anything that could possibly be said or done in order to convince these same players to join a team where the playing field is as big as the world around them, where the odd shaped ball is traded in for a cross, where a win means health and salvation for someone else, where the spotlight shines only on God, where the rewards that come from teamwork will never be realized during their life time, and where death is the end of the game?

That’s the team that Jesus invites Simon Peter and Andrew, James and John to join as he calls them out of their fishing boats to follow him.  When Jesus calls his team of disciples, he doesn’t spend his time building up their egos or enticing them with promises of success, power, prominence and wealth.  In fact, Jesus seems to spend no time giving pep talks.  He doesn’t seem to be interested in motivational speeches.  He doesn’t even tell his would-be disciples what their goal is going to be, or how they will achieve it.  Jesus simply invites them to follow him and promises them a new twist on their old occupation, as with him, they will become fishers of people.  Jesus lets faith do the rest.

It is amazing that in spite of no salary, no specific job descriptions, no pension plan, these men cannot resist the urge to go.  For, to quote John Hull, “…the call of God is a bit like the call of the sea.  It may not be very specific.  It may not be a call to this ocean or that ocean, or to this particular port or that one; it is more like a restless yearning, which can only be satisfied by going to sea.  So it is with the call of God, but never the less, we become aware of the call in the particularity of our actual lives and circumstances.”  (A sermon preached by John Hull on February 4, 2007 in the Chapel of the Queen’s Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education, Birmingham)

Simon and Andrew, James and John are summoned into the Lord’s service from their daily work.  They don’t have to go to a high mountain or look into a burning bush.  They need no one to mediate this call as it is a personal invitation.  Jesus calls each by name.

It is amazing that this call hasn’t changed much over the years.  As Jesus issued a personal call to Simon and Andrew, James and John, Jesus also calls us – from where we are and from what we are doing.  Like a ring of the cell phone interrupting the daily tasks, we are expected to answer his call without hesitation and fear.  For, there is an urgency to this call, as this is the moment, the right time to turn to God and believe in the good news that God will take charge of everything.  This is the moment, the right time, to get involved and trust that Jesus will lead us down the right path.  There is no time to weigh the pros and cons before answering.  When Jesus calls, we are to go – totally trusting that Jesus will lead us where we need to be as little “christs” in this world.

With no pep talk, no enticements, no lofty goals, and no promises of protection and safety along the way, it took a lot of faith for Simon and Andrew, James and John, to drop everything and leave their boats, their fathers, their financial security, their planned future, to follow Jesus.  And it takes a lot of faith for us to do the same.  We would love the glory that comes from being part of the team that wins the Super Bowl, but that is not the team that Jesus is urging us to join.  With the hook of the gospel and the net of the spirit, Jesus invites us to become fishers of people.  Jesus invites us into his ministry, his mission, his family, his cross.  But time is running out.  So, hop to it!  Hurry up!  Don’t wait!  Get going!  Join the Jesus team and don’t worry about what you will be asked to do or how you will do it.  Jesus will provide the means.  And, don’t worry about the outcome.  For, as long as you follow the course being set by the Lord, everything will lead to the cross of salvation.

So, pick up the cross!  Answer the call!  Join the Jesus team!  And may the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

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