Sermon for January 22, 2017 3rd of Epiphany “Come With Me”
Matthew’s account of the calling of the disciples is very different than John’s. Last week in the Gospel reading showed us that John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and said there is the one who will redeem the world and some of John’s followers left and followed Jesus.
For Matthew the story is a bit different. I think it adds to the richness and mystery of scripture that the story of the same event can be told different ways. John the Baptist is in prison, Jesus goes to lament this circumstance for his cousin and after that begins his teaching. His first act is to call Simon and Andrew, James and John. He simply says: “come with me”.
I was sitting in a coffee shop waiting for some friends and picked up a copy of the District. There was an article titled “Download an Updated Version of Yourself” by Dana Lloyd. Toward the end she notes that January is named after the Latin word (ianua) meaning door, doorway or gateway. And I pondered how that might mingle with following Jesus. I also discovered that January is also named after the Roman god Janus, who is the god of gates and doorways and is depicted with two faces looking in opposite directions. In this instance Jesus holds open the door and invites us to come and see.
When the first disciples heeded the call of Jesus to ‘come and see’, their lives were completely changed, forever. Once they stepped over the threshold of the doorway all that was their past was just that…the past. It is not that the past disappeared but with each step forward there was newness and adventure and challenges in faith. Eventually there were a dozen or so and as they stepped into this new future they were amazed, scared, perplexed, confused and ultimately deeply committed.
I say first disciples because Jesus is still asking the question: ‘come and see’. Each one of us here has heard the call and are in varying stages of living out that call. It is ok to be amazed and scared, perplexed and confused. It is ok to wonder about the what if’s. But I would suggest that if these feelings cause you to be stuck in one spot, to be silent or to speak or act without love, then Jesus has some teaching for us.
For me one of the teachings this week is about love. On Friday Donald Trump became the President of the USA. Personally I am not convinced he has the capacity to lead and I am dismayed at some of his choices for top leaders. The Rt. Rev. Jordan Cantwell (Moderator of the UCC) reminded the church and the nation of one of Jesus’ most profound teachings. Love one another, not just those who love you back but those who you determine are unlovable. How do we love Donald Trump and resist with compassion those policies he can now make? It is a January moment, a doorway moment and we can choose to go through with anger or love. Jesus gentle teaching is to through with love.
The first disciples did not know what was around each corner, we do not know either. We do know that at each moment Jesus requires us to act differently, to act with love and compassion. When the challenge to not look back confronts us, it is to our prejudices, our hatred, our biases, our ideas, all things that would prevent us from acting from a place of love. It is hard work, it is being aware all the time and walking with Jesus is the best adventure you will ever experience.
Jesus asked Peter and Andrew to ‘follow me, come and see’ and we hear that ‘at once they left their nets and went with Jesus’.
Jesus asks you and me to follow, to come and see, to come through the doorway. Our renewed response is?