Worship for Sunday, January 24, 2021

Jonah 3:1-5, 10

The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.

When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.

The Word of the Lord.

Psalm 62:5-12

 For God alone I wait in silence;
  truly, my hope is in God.
 God alone is my rock and my salvation,
  my stronghold, so that I shall never be shaken.
 In God is my deliverance and my honor;
  God is my strong rock and my refuge.
 Put your trust in God always, O people,
  pour out your hearts before the one who is our refuge.
 Those of high degree are but a fleeting breath; those of low estate cannot be trusted.
  Placed on the scales together they weigh even less than a breath.
 Put no trust in extortion; in robbery take no empty pride;
  though wealth increase, set not your heart upon it.
 God has spoken once, twice have I heard it,
  that power belongs to God.
 Steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord,
  for you repay all according to their deeds. Amen.

1 Corinthians 7:29-31

Brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

The Word of the Lord.

The Holy Gospel according to Saint Mark 1:14-20

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.

The Gospel of our Lord.

Two brothers along the shore of Lake Superior . . .

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

Can you even remember the “good” old days anymore? You know – like the fall of 2019 – way back when we could hang out in large groups? Back when we could go places other than the grocery store and the backyard and well – the other grocery store?

Back in those long ago pre-pandemic times – I vaguely remember that the McFarlands went places. Sometimes we even went really busy places. Places filled with other people like our local playground.

Often the playground would be packed with people. It would be a sea of humanity! Children would be running and jumping and climbing. Kids would be swinging and sliding and laughing and shouting. It was all delightful busyness.

Most of the parents and grandparents would be standing around in little clusters drinking coffee – chatting with one another and all too likely staring at their phones . . .

It would be all noise and movement and distractions – until – a distressed child cried out – “MOM!” Then every female human being within 100 yards of the playground would immediately stop whatever she was doing and start to scan the crowd of children – all the while preparing herself to spring into action if necessary.

Seriously – it looks like a game of grown-up freeze tag! Cups of coffee are held – frozen – mid-sip. Conversations cease mid-sentence. Facebook scrolling and updating stops mid-like. And tweets go un-tweeted. As every single mom in the entire park – assesses the situation and readies herself for action!

Is the person crying out – her person? How great is the need?

Is there blood? If so – how much?

Will there be a hospital bill this time? Will this be the time she has to call 9-11?

Even if it isn’t her person crying out in distress – did her kid – “heaven forbid” cause the cry of distress? (This is worse than a hurt kid!)

I wasn’t born a mom. There were almost 28 years of my life when I was perfectly and delightfully happy not being anyone’s mom at all. But after 17 years – being a mom has become deeply a part of my identity. It is a huge part of who I am and how I define myself. And so when the cry of “Mom” goes forth – I will be poised to act!

What about you?

There are times in all of our lives when someone calls us and just by hearing their call – we are reminded of who we are. Or of how much we are loved. Or of how important we are. Or to whom we belong.

That is exactly what happened in our Gospel reading for this week. When Simon – Andrew – James and John were called – they suddenly knew their purpose in this life and their identity in this world. They knew where they belonged and with whom they belonged.

The Gospel of Mark tells us one day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee – Jesus saw the brothers Simon and Andrew out fishing. Jesus walks up to these two men and says – “Come follow me – and I will make you fish for people.”

As soon as Jesus speaks these words to Simon and Andrew – they immediately leave their nets and follow Jesus. They answered Jesus’ call. Because after hearing Jesus’ call – they knew they belonged with Jesus.

The McFarland sons with their dad – Jason – hunting for sea creatures . . .

After Jesus calls Simon and Andrew to be his disciples – Jesus walks a little further along the shore where he encounters James and John. And he calls them to be his disciples too. The Bible tells us they immediately drop everything and leave their father Zebedee in the boat and follow Jesus. They too knew they belonged with Jesus.

Jesus called these four men to be with him and to share in his life and ministry and they dropped everything to be with Jesus.

These are just 4 of the people Jesus called. Jesus called all sorts men and women to join him. Jesus also called Philip – Thomas – Bartholomew – Matthew – Judas – Mary Magdalene – Zacchaeus and so many others to be with him and to share in his life and ministry.

Even after Jesus ascended into heaven – Jesus kept right on calling people. Jesus called Paul on the road to Damascus. Changing Paul’s life forever.

Jesus called and claimed each of them and said to them – you are chosen. You are mine – follow me. I love you. We belong together. These folks were all important to Jesus. He loved and cared for all of them. And they were important to his ministry.

But look at who Jesus called. Jesus called fishermen – who must have smelled kind of fishy. Jesus called tax-collectors who most people saw as nothing more than traitors and thieves. Jesus called tent makers who had persecuted Christians. Jesus called Peter who denied him three times and Thomas who doubted. Jesus sometimes called men and women with really bad reputations. Other times Jesus called pillars of the community.

Jesus called all sorts of people and not one of them was perfect. They all had flaws and faults. They all messed up and sinned – but they were important to Jesus and to Jesus’ ministry. They made an important difference in other peoples’ lives. And most importantly – they were all the beloved – redeemed – forgiven children of God.

And Jesus is still calling people today. Jesus is calling each of you. Jesus’ call to you is real. Jesus Christ is calling you. You are Jesus Christ’s own. You are the risen Lord’s beloved. You belong with Jesus. You are his.

Jesus loves you and he will always love you. You belong to Jesus. And that truly is Good News indeed. AMEN.

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