January 24, 2021

Jonah 3:1-5, 10
Mark 1:14-20

“The Miracle of Call and Response”

Continuing the theme from the last couple of Sundays, today’s readings are about people being called by God. We heard about Jonah getting called a second time to go to Ninevah with a message from God. The first time Jonah was called, he didn’t respond very well. He ran in the opposite direction, hopped on a ship, got caught in a storm, swallowed by a big fish, and spewed up on the beach. This time, I don’t think he’s too convinced that this mission is something that he wants to do, but reluctantly he goes and does it, at God’s command.

In contrast, the Gospel of Mark gives us the story of the calling of some of the first disciples – the fishermen disciples who respond immediately, drop what they are doing, and follow Jesus on the Way.

One commentator notes that in Mark’s Gospel, “Jesus’ first demonstration of authority is not a miracle, but the calling of two sets of brothers who immediately respond by following him.” But I wonder if what happens here is just as great a miracle as changing water into wine or walking on the water.

Barbara Brown Taylor has … Read more »

January 21, 2018

Jonah 3:1-5, 10
Mark 1:14-20

“A Moment and a Lifetime”

I wonder if you can remember the moment when your journey with Jesus began. I know some people who can name that moment, when they first prayed and asked Christ to come into their heart, when they first decided that they wanted the focus of their lives to change, and were ready to embrace the “Jesus Way” of living in the world.

It’s a moment like that in the lives of some of Jesus’ first disciples that we hear about in our Gospel reading today. Simon and Andrew were fishing that day. James and John were in their boat, mending their fishing nets. Jesus came along and issued an invitation: “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And they did.

When Jesus was choosing his disciples
they sure didn’t stop to tie their shoes.
They left all their nets with no regrets
for a calling that they could not refuse.

Lord, I will follow you wherever you may go.
I want to be a reaper of the seeds you sow.

We hear the story about that key moment when the first disciples made the decision to drop their nets, leave their usual routines, and follow Jesus in ministry. … Read more »

January 22, 2012

Jonah 3:1-5, 10
1 Corinthians 7:29-31
Mark 1:14-20

As we journey through the seasons of the church year and explore the texts of scripture each Sunday that are assigned by the lectionary cycle, we have the opportunity to focus on different parts of the Christian story.

During Advent, we enter into the experience of waiting. Longing, hoping, waiting for a Messiah to come… waiting for his return, waiting for our world to be put right. When Christmas finally arrives, we enter into the experience of the Holy Family, of the shepherds, and of the angels. We celebrate the gift of God in sending Jesus into our world, almost as if he has just arrived. And then, at Epiphany, we walk with the wise men to greet him. We experience the “aha moment” – the knowledge that Emmanuel has come – “God with us” for the whole world.

Today is the third Sunday after the Epiphany in our church year. We’re in what we call the “Season of Epiphany” and our scripture texts contain some wonderful epiphanies of their own. But I can’t help summing them up with one message from God: “It is time to live differently.”

The Greek word that is translated as “time” in … Read more »

January 25, 2009

A sermon on the 3rd Sunday after Epiphany, Year B, given on the concluding Sunday of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Jonah 3: 1-5, 10
I Corinthians 7: 29-31
Mark 1: 14-20

I am not a preacher! I think that I am more comfortable when Amanda stands up here. And by the time I’m finished, maybe you will be too. Preaching is not my natural gift. I teach. I lead my students through their studies, and help them with their questions. But I don’t normally stand at the front of a worshipping congregation to preach the Word of God. I’m much more comfortable with my own words.

But today, I’m preaching because it is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This is a special Week in the Christian year for me and for Amanda, because we are what has come to be called an “interchurch couple.” We share together in each other’s churches. Perhaps some of you do not know this already. I am Roman Catholic. Amanda and I met when she was at seminary, and I was beginning my graduate work in ecumenical theology. We share together in an ecumenical vocation.

Here, … Read more »