Thursday, August 23, 2012

Jesus Calls the Disciples

The sermon this week is based on the story of the calling of the disciples in Luke as paraphrased by the Spark Bible.
The Dominion of God
The Dominion of God. What does that look like? Visions of lambs and lions getting along… Seeing old relatives, friends… being perfectly happy…
Maybe that’s what we think of when we think of heaven. How about now? Who makes up that dominion? People? Christians? Us? Those called by God? Those called by Jesus? What does all that look like?
Well, today we get a glimpse. Jesus calls Simon/Peter, Andrew, James, and John. These are the rock stars of the gospel. These are the guys who were at the last supper—good grief, Peter and John MADE the Last Supper! James and John and Peter witnessed the transfiguration—we’ll see that in January, when Moses and Elijah show up as well. They voice the questions we ourselves might often ask. They ask Jesus these things and we get to hear the recorded answers.
Can you imagine being able to talk with them for just five minutes?!
What’s Jesus like? What food did he eat? They know the untold story—the little things you only get from actually being there. Did he stop when he got a pebble in his sandal? How did you all handle days that were too warm to travel? Were there any favorite stories on those walks from town to town.
You know, I’d even be interested in talking to people who worked with them. How did Simon, Andrew, James and John run off like that? What was it about them that was different? Was there anything? Were they just normal fishermen, like you?
That’s it, too. They were normal, everyday fishermen. They hadn’t even been good fishermen that day—they hadn’t caught a thing until Jesus showed up. Fishermen—not as a hobby, but as a career. These are not lawyers, doctors, teachers who fish in their spare time. These are fishers who live on their boats all day—pulling in nets, fixing them, following the harvest wherever it goes. Covered in scales, surrounded by seawater and sun, with that fish smell ground into their skin—deeper than any soap can reach.
These are the people Jesus calls. These are the people that I—and I imagine some of you—would me most interested in talking with. That we would hope would give us just a few minutes of their time. 
Then there’s Matthew—a person who, just by the nature of his job, would be stereotyped as a crook. Tax collectors were reputed to skim a bit of the taxes off the top for their own pockets. Now, we don’t know if Matthew was one of those people—like any stereotype, it doesn’t apply to everyone. Jesus sees past the job and even the stereotype here. He calls Matthew, and this tax collector becomes one of his closest pupils. Again, the last supper, the miracles, the first-hand witness to Jesus’ teachings and answers to questions. What would we give for five minutes with someone like him?
Then there are the women! Where will this end? Women were worse than tax collectors in terms of social status. They were second-class citizens. That’s not too difficult for me to imagine. I’ve certainly encountered enough gender assumptions to last me a lifetime--
And that's in the 21st Century in the United States of America. 
This story takes place in 1st Century Israel.
Again, Jesus works with these individuals—these people—sees them for who they are. Not women and tax collectors and fishers, but as Simon/Peter, as Andrew, as James, as John, as Matthew, as Mary Magdalene, as Joanna, as Susanna, as Philip, as Bartholomew, as Thomas, as James, as Thaddeus, as Simon, as Judas.
We acknowledge that we’re called, too. We’re called from wherever we are—by name, as the disciples were. Baptized by that name. Joined to God’s family, and sent—sent to serve God’s world. Sent to learn from and work with one another, as the disciples were.
And what or who are we sent to work with? How about fishers? How about tax collectors? How about people like Joanna and James and Matthew—who are more than the stereotypes would let us believe. AND these are not people we would reach out to, to help or pity, but people we would seek out, hoping they’ll talk to us, hoping they’ll teach us, hoping they will give us just a few minutes of insight. This is what God’s family looks like—this is what the group of Jesus’ followers looks like--from the beginning.
We’re sent out into the world—and there’s no way we can do this alone. Did you notice? Even Peter and Andrew had to ask James and John for help with the nets of fish. There is quite literally a boatload of work to do. Too much for us to get caught up in labeling people by the group they belong to. We have to get beyond that.
We are called by name—each of us. Each of us called to follow Jesus. Each of us privileged to be able to respond and to walk the path of discipleship, with Jesus, with each other, with God’s people everywhere. Amen.

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