January 23, 2011
by Pastor Brian Weinberger
Have any of you ever been drawn to something and you aren’t quite sure why? It amazes me what kinds of things get people’s attention. Living in California for most of my life I thought I would have become used to the fact that people drive slower than molasses when there is an accident because they need to know exactly what happened. But after living there that whole time and having been stuck on the freeway for many accidents I still cannot tell you what it is that attracts people to want to watch accidents because you know it’s just going to cause you to be late wherever you are going.
So that is one thing that doesn’t make sense to me when it comes to what attracts people, but let me tell you about something that I noticed one time that caught my attention. Last Spring I was at a continuing education event in Arizona about exploring more deeply and taking care of our spiritual lives. We had just finished a workshop on some spiritual practices and we had some time to take a spiritual walk or whatever we wanted to refresh ourselves for the next hour. As appealing as a spiritual nap sounded I decided to take the advice of the speakers and go on a spiritual walk around the retreat center. I started my walk outside of the meeting area and headed down a pathway that would go behind the building and head off toward the desert. I only made it about 100 feet from the building and was still on the paved pathway when out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of a little brown and tan bird fly out of something. I decided to look to see where the bird came from and as I looked up I could see this tall cactus that had a hole in it the size of CD or DVD or maybe a little bigger. I stood and watched to see if the bird would come back and sure enough a minute or two later it came back, but this bird wasn’t the same, it was a darker brown and a darker tan color. Just as I realized it was probably the female of the pair I saw out of the bottom of that hole three little heads pop up and start chirping. The female bird started feeding the babies and then when it had nothing left it flew out of the hollow cactus and go in search of some more food. I was fascinated by this site and decided that watching this was more spiritual than the walk I was planning on taking and I sat right down on the side of the pathway and spent the next 45 minutes watching the mom and dad bird fly to and from the cactus feeding the babies. I was just fascinated at the dedication and time these parents spent in going out in search of food to feed their babies.
It just amazes me at what gets people attention from car accidents, nature, a song on the radio, to watching people do every day things. There are all kinds of things that happen each day in our lives and sometimes even we don’t know what is going to grab our attention. I think that it’s those moments that we don’t expect something to grab our attention that really DO grab our attention and stick out as fun or memorable moments in our week or even in our lives.
I would bet that for Peter and Andrew, and James and John they were expecting a normal day of fishing. It might have been early evening and they were barely off the shore of the sea as they were beginning to cast their nets out into the water. They were doing their job. They were at a typical day of work hoping that they would catch enough fish to feed their family. Maybe they were simply fishing from the shore to begin with. Either way, they probably weren’t expecting a man who was not a fisherman to come by the sea at night. And I am sure that if they weren’t too surprised by this that they probably were surprised by the fact that this man wanted to talk to them.
I would also bet that the last thing they would have expected is for this man to catch their attention by saying these words: “Follow me,and I will make you fish for people.” Fish for people...what does that even mean? What is this man talking about and why is he talking to me about it? Whatever it meant to them, whatever went through their heads when this man said these things to them, it caught their attention. Just as the bird caught my attention and drew me into watching it for over 45 minutes, the words this man spoke caught the attention of these fishermen and drew them in, and caused them to follow him. Jesus did it first with Peter and Andrew, and then just down the shoreline he says it again to James and John and they not only stop fishing and leave their nets, but these words draw them in so much that they even leave their father in the boat.
It amazes me what catches people’s attention. In the first chapter of John’s Gospel Jesus calls Philip with the same words of “follow me” and not only does that catch Philip’s attention, but he is so drawn in by those words that he runs off to find his friend Nathaniel and tells him that this man is the one whom Moses and the prophets were talking about.
With those words Jesus called his disciples into action. With those words Jesus installed each and every one of the disciples into his ministry. Think about the group of people Jesus chose to be his disciples and install them into his ministry. He called fisherman, tax collectors, and people who’s occupation is unknown. Jesus called people who come from a variety of worlds. People who might have and probably wouldn’t have associated themselves with each other except for the fact that they had been called by Jesus to be his disciples. He installed all of them to be a part of his ministry to bring about the kingdom of God. Were all of them like-minded? I seriously doubt it. The only ones who might have had similar thoughts were the four fisherman we hear about today. But even then I doubt that they thought alike even when it came to doing their job. Think about what you do or did for a living...did you do things and think the same way as each of your coworkers? We are all different from each other and it takes time and effort to work together in an efficient way.
We even have examples in the Bible of ways that the disciples didn’t get along or think alike. In Luke 9 and again in chapter 22 we find the disciples arguing with one another about who will be the greatest and Jesus shows them a child and tells them they must welcome this child to enter the kingdom of God. And if we look at the New Testament reading for today we see that Paul encounters the same problem. The Corinthians are arguing about which person they were baptized by, or who they follow, and Paul wants to remind them that they are all united in Jesus Christ. This new church in Corinth is made up of just as many different and diverse people as were the twelve disciples. Just like the twelve disciples they are not able to help but argue with one another about who is better than the other based on who they were baptized by and who they think they follow. Paul needs to remind them that it doesn’t matter who baptized them and it doesn’t matter who their leader is, but that it is something else beyond that.
Jesus called a random group of twelve disciples. The church in Corinth was made up of many different types of people. Here at Faith we too are made up of many different people. We all have different traditions, jobs, we look different and we all think differently from one another. But there is one thing that we have in common. The one thing is that Jesus called each and every one of us to join with him in the ministry of bringing about the kingdom. He didn’t call each of us and install each of us into his ministry because we think alike or look alike or act alike. Jesus installed each of us just as we are. We are all different so that we can go out into the world and connect with people who we do connect with so that we can share the gospel in the ways that we know how to share it. We are all brought together because the one thing we do share is our love for God. Paul insists on unity for the sake of the Gospel.
Jesus called the four disciples today because they could connect with fisherman. Jesus called tax collectors so that they could connect with other tax collectors. Jesus calls each and every one of you to be who you are to tell the Gospel. Look again at the Old Testament reading. God has called you by your name; you are His. You have been installed by God to do his work and God will support you through the good times and through the times of fire so you are not overwhelmed.
Last week Steve encouraged and challenged you to be TELLERS. I want to also encourage you to be tellers. I want to put a different spin on it however, in light of our lesson we heard today. As you think about and work at becoming a better teller of the Gospel I want you to remember these things: As we work at being tellers remember that Jesus calls each and every one of us, by name, just as we are whether we are fishers, bankers, woodworkers, doctors, nurses, students, retired, homemakers, or whatever it is that you do. Jesus doesn’t call you OUT of that work but installs you and invites you to do that work as a worker for God’s kingdom. Remember also that though we are all different that we are united in Christ. No matter how many differences we have, we have all been baptized in a baptism like his and we all receive the same promises that we are a part of God’s kingdom both here on earth and in the world to come.
Today may be my installation but we are all installed into the ministry of Jesus Christ. We are all a part of his kingdom and we are all able to be tellers in the way that God made us.
I was drawn in and invited in to see that bird family that day in Arizona and it was such an amazing thing to witness. I was also drawn in and invited to be a part of this church family here in this place. I have told many people about that beautiful moment I shared with those birds and about all of you. Jesus has drawn us in and invited us in. He has installed us to his ministry and promised us amazing things. Share that amazing story, tell it to others. And continue to be amazed at how Jesus draws us in again and again with the simple words, “follow me”.