3rd Sunday after Epiphany
January 22, 2017
Matthew 4: 12-23 You can click on this link to read the text in Oremus Bible Browser
I can just see it now, playing out like a movie in my mind. Jesus is walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. He’s new to the area, just arrived, and planning to settle here as his home base. It’s evening and the breeze is just quieting from that late afternoon bluster. The sky is coloring up – a little blush of gold and pink gathering over the western hills on the other side of the lake as the light begins to fade. Local fishermen are washing their nets after a day of work and packing up their gear for another day tomorrow. Jesus talks to them as he strolls by, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” They look up to see who’s talking and drop everything to follow him to his home and….What? That’s ridiculous! Did they know this guy? Had they heard of him before, watched him teaching in the synagogue, seen him healing people?
Matthew doesn’t give any backstory, we just have to believe that whatever they knew or didn’t know, these men saw the opportunity to be part of what Jesus was about, and they took it. In some ways, we are in the same boat, so to speak. However we came to be part of God’s work in the world, when we met Jesus, we answered yes.
Every person in ministry can tell you their ‘call story.’ The first phone call I got from the ‘big church’ when I was ready to go to seminary was from a local pastor who wanted to hear my call story to relay it to the people who had the power to grant me admission to their program of preparation for ministry. But what about you? Do you have a story about how God called you to be an accountant, or a teacher, or a doctor, or a Mom or Dad? Have you ever thought that the people who are set aside for ministry are some special subset of the Christian life that doesn’t necessarily include you?
Listen to Martin Luther on Vocation:
God’s people please God even in the least and most rifling matters. For God will be working all things through you: God will milk the cow through you, and perform the most servile duties through you, and all the greatest and least duties alike will be pleasing to God. (From Luther’s commentary on Genesis. LW 6:10)
And this: The cobbler serves God, not by putting little crosses on allt he shores he makes, but by making the best, most serviceable shoes he knows how to make, so that people can do their work, and live their lives with strength.
Here’s the thing: you have been called to be part of God’s family – God’s beloved community – not by chance, but for a purpose. You are a gift God has given to the world that is un-duplicatable. It will only happen this one time. God has created you and chosen you and blessed you to be something in this time and this place.
You are called, invited, and forgiven by grace through faith in Jesus so that you never have to worry about being good enough to be part of God’ family, ever. Amen. That’s just done. It just who you are. No more worry or work for you about your eternal salvation. But that frees you up to be God’s hands and God’s heart in everything that you do, in the day to day, and over your lifetime. That is your vocation, your call, to be part of God’s love for the world, for your neighbor, for your family.
You may have to spend time training to become a teacher, doctor, efficient administrator, or even a better cook. But your real work is learning to be who you are in Jesus: compassionate, willing to befriend and love honest, generous, respectful. Last week we talked about Jesus as our hermeneutic for how to live both as people and as a body, the Church. We learned that we look to how Jesus invited, healed, served, included, as our model for understanding what God is like and how we would act as God’s people. Even in sickness and suffering, our call is to be faithful to the love and life we have seen in Jesus, and to be open to the love and care that people are willing and able to give us when we need it. So I’m going to ask you to do something. There’s a sticky note on the back page of your bulletin. I want you to think about what you love most to do in your life – what makes life rich for you. Then write it on the sticky note. Now take a minute to think about how God uses what you love most to do as a way of making life rich for other people. This is your Christian Vocation, the gift that God is giving the world by putting you in it. You can stick your sticky note on the door frames as you exit the sanctuary this morning, a record of all the gifts and the vocations present here.
Whatever your story of how Jesus found you, you are called to be something important by our faith. Your vocation, your call to ministry came straight from your first encounter with God in Jesus – through your baptism, through your parents’ training, through Bible study or conversation with Christian friends. It night have been something so gradual that you never had a day when you didn’t know Jesus, or it may have been as sudden as Jesus showing up at your work and telling you he had other work for you to do. You are called to be part of how God changes the world, no matter what your station in life, or your daily work. You are called to be part of how God is at work to make the world more just, more loving, more free, and provides a place for everyone to live in safety. Blessings on your vocation. Amen.