Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sermon, part 2

(see previous post, but not if you are coming to church tomorrow)

But maybe, just maybe, we are focusing on the wrong thing. Think about this – Jesus called to the four fishermen – and here’s the thing – they were four ordinary people, doing their ordinary daily work, and it was an ordinary day. In other words, in many ways they were just like you and me. They weren’t famous, they weren’t especially educated for this line of work, and by the way, it wasn’t Sunday and they weren’t even in church. They were just going about their daily lives and Jesus met them and called them. Think about that.

You know, most of the time when I ask young people, “where do you see Jesus?” or “where do you meet Jesus?” they usually say, “when I go to church.” And certainly there is nothing wrong with this answer; I want people to come to church, to gather and worship and to know that something special is happening when we are here, praying and singing and hearing God’s word together. But it makes me a little sad to think that they don’t realize that church is not the only – or even the main – place that Jesus meets them, that Jesus calls to them. I hope people come to church to be reminded that God comes to them in many different places in their lives, and calls to them in many different parts of their lives.

Just as Jesus called to Peter and Andrew, James and John while they were fishing, Jesus calls to us in the middle of our ordinary lives, when we are standing in line at the grocery store, when we are helping customers,when we are taking care of our grandchildren, when we are listening to heartbeats or helping children learn to read, when we are comforting a friend, when we are making change, or making coffee.... and Jesus calls to us in those ordinary activities, to “follow me.”

It’s not so much that Jesus asks us to live different lives, but to live our ordinary lives in a different way, by the light that he shares with us. It’s possible that Jesus will call us to follow him to Haiti, but it’s just as possible that Jesus with call us to follow him – right where we are – doing the same work, with the same family, but living by the light of his love. If we are fishermen, our tool might be a wide strong net; if a doctor or a nurse, our tool a stethoscope or a thermometer; if a sales clerk, our best tool might be a smile. But the call is the same, and it comes to us where-ever we are, and all the time, “follow me. Be my person in the world. There is so much darkness in the world. Make my love real to people.”

That’s what I was supposed to that dark cold winter morning, when I was went to the Denver City and County Jail. So, nervous and unsure, I clutched those index cards and I went into the large room where they would soon be serving breakfast. We set up the sound equipment and the men shuffled in. Some of them carried Bibles, tattered New Testaments, the King James version. The songs began. I sang along. We all stood for the reading of the Holy Gospel.

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light,” I began. “On those who lived in a land of deep darkness, light has shined.” What does this mean? I asked questions, wondering if anyone would respond, and what they would say.

When did this happen in Jesus ministry? Near the end? In the middle? No, in the beginning, someone answered. After when? After his baptism and his temptation in the desert. Right after Jesus’ temptation, he went out and began to preach, and began to gather disciples.What about those strange words – the prophecy about the great light, the light which has dawned? “That’s Jesus,” they said.

“Jesus is the light.” What does that mean, that Jesus is the light? “It means that you can trust Jesus. He’ll be straight with you. He won’t ever lie to you.

So we continued through the passage, reading together, talking about Jesus, the light in our darkness, the dawn in our night. I wondered aloud about the calling of the disciples. I wondered about how it must have felt to hear Jesus call “Follow me!” and about that strange word “immediately. They dropped their nets immediately. That must have been difficult. Do you think it was difficult?

“No, was the surprising response. “Why not?

Because Jesus is the light. You can trust Jesus. Jesus won’t ever lie to you. Everyone else will lie to you, but Jesus will never lie. If it was anyone else, it would be difficult. But not if it was Jesus. You can trust Jesus. Jesus is the light.

Now it was time for my sermon to end. But I hadn’t figured out the ending. So I began to say, a little softly, “You know, I believe that Jesus is still calling people today.”

Then a man in the back row stood up. “You know ma’am,” he said in a big booming voice, “considering where we all are, I bet he’s knocking on the door of our hearts right now.”

It’s still true – not just at the Denver City and County Jail and not just here in the his sanctuary – but out in the world, and in our daily lives – Jesus is still the light and he is still calling people today, calling people to follow him into the world, in their ordinary lives, to make his love real where-ever they are. Jesus is still the light and he calls you not to live a different life, but to live your life differently, by the light of his love. Jesus says, “follow me.” No matter who you are. No matter where you are.

I believe that Jesus is still calling people today.And considering where we all are, I bet he’s knocking on the door of our hearts right now.



Rev. Dr. Laura said...

Beautiful! Thank you for giving those men a voice for us.

Terri said...

ummm, "called to live our ordinary lives in a different way.." that really resonates with me...

this is a really wonderful sermon, Diane. really!

ElastiGirl said...

great sermon Diane - it will stay with me for a long time. thanks for sharing!

Magdalene6127 said...

WOW. You knocked my socks off Diane. And I am asking permission to quote this line: "It’s not so much that Jesus asks us to live different lives, but to live our ordinary lives in a different way, by the light that he shares with us." It's just what my sermon needs.

Thank you so much, Diane. Beautiful sermon.

Robin said...

Diane, I thought I left you a comment on my own blog last night, but - apparently not!

It asked what prayer you were referring to.

And it said that I love the ending! The whole sermon is terrific.

Diane said...

Mags -- I didn't get your comment until after church, but of COURSE you could have quoted me.