3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 25, 2015 – Year B
Readings: Jon 3:1-5, 10; Psalm 25; 1 Cor 7:29-31; Mk 1:14-20
Rev. David Hyman
Jesus says, “The Kingdom of God is at hand. Come after me.” Those are the key phrases for me this morning.
“The kingdom of God is at hand” simply means that Jesus is here. The final revelation of God is here. Come after me, sign up – you and I have done it. We’ve been baptized, we’ve been confirmed, we belong to the kingdom of God. We’d like to think that we’re all coming after in the ways in which we’ve been shown and the ways we’ve chosen to do it. And so it is.
The primary point I’m making this morning is this: A lot of times, we have our own idea of how this ought to be played out for each of us – our own dream – but I think that life is a zig-zag situation. We are framed by the times in which we live, the parents to whom we were born and raised, the kind of country we’re in, the kind of community we’re in, and all the things we ourselves bring to it. These shape the way we are in this kingdom of God and the way we come after Jesus.
We might have our designs, but then other things happen and it re-frames it.
When I was in the seminary in the 50’s, becoming a foreign missionary was big at that time. One man went to Bolivia and came back with all these stories –these dramatic stories – of serving in the mountains. So I volunteered to go to Bolivia. I was never sent. I found out 20 years later that it was because I was too sickly. Well, I’m still here. So I don’t know what that’s all about. I volunteered to go to Jamaica. Never got it. I served my entire time on the east coast, except for two years in Denver.
There is your design and then there’s God’s design.
The important thing is that you want to do God’s agenda. You want to be faithful. You want to serve. It kind of zig-zags how it plays out. Every one of us can say we’ve had our dreams and then there’s the reality.
There’s a story about a young boy who was very happy. He said when he grew up, he wanted to have a beautiful home with a front porch, two St. Bernard dogs, and a big backyard. He wanted to marry the most glamorous woman with long black hair who could sing beautifully. He wanted to be an athlete, so he wanted 3 sons who could play football with him. One of these sons would be a scientist, one would be a senator, and one would be a quarterback for either the Seahawks or the Patriots. He wanted to drive a red Ferrari and never have to pick up after himself. He told these things to God, and God said, “That sounds like a nice dream. I want you to be happy.”
What followed was this: he married a wonderful young lady. She did not have long black hair or have dark eyes, but she was an artist and good cook and played the guitar. He graduated in marketing and started his own hospital supply business. They lived downtown in an apartment and their front porch was a balcony. There was no backyard. He had enough income to live very comfortably. He had three daughters and he never drove a red Ferrari. Well, he became very sad over time because his dreams were not realized. He talked to his pastor, a therapist, a friend, and his wife. No one could satisfy or allay his sadness, and he wound up sick and in the hospital. In the hospital, God came to him. He said to God, “Remember when I was a boy and I told you what I wanted?” God said, “It was a beautiful dream.”
“Why didn’t you give me those things?”
“I could have, but I wanted to surprise you with things you didn’t dream of. Your life is one of the best packages I have ever put together.”
“Yes, but I thought you were going to give me what I wanted.”
“And I thought you were going to give me what I wanted – to be happy with what I had given you.”
And that night, the tragically sad man began to dream a new dream, and he became very happy.
It’s a simple story, but it’s a way of saying that we have our dreams of how living out this life in the kingdom of God should be, but then God has God’s dream. We’re being invited to leave behind the fishing nets that we design for our lives and choose God’s fishing nets… God’s way. “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men and women in this world in my way. My dream.” When we do God’s dream, we end up being very peaceful, very satisfied and very happy, despite the zig-zag journey of life.
Peter and Andrew and James and John were all very much like us. They left their fishing nets and followed Jesus, but you can be sure that on that journey, they took it back many times, just like you and I often take it back. We choose Jesus, but then, “Oh, this is what it means” and we take it back. If we stay with Jesus, if we stay with God, we get it right eventually and we follow with more surrender, and more love, and more readiness. And so it is. It’s a beautiful journey.
A lot of times we think that “Come after me and I will make you fishers” belongs to priests, deacons, brothers, sisters, and professional people in the church, but belongs to all of us. We need to hear the message. “Come after me, and I will make you fishers.”
There was a youth minister who once said, “I am not the one who is going to bring the youth. It is other youth who are going to bring the youth to ministry. I am simply here once they bring the youth, to help them along their journey.” I am here to do what is in the church, but when you go beyond the walls, if I’m the only one doing it, there isn’t going to be too much done.
We’re all there doing it for our God. Right now we’re focused on pro-life, the unborn, the old. It seems that for these two ends of life, God’s dream is that we hold them all with great respect. Yet our society sometimes says otherwise. So whenever we pray or speak or march about this, we’re coming after and we’re following. We’re becoming fishers.
There was a man – Frederick Buechner – who said that ministry or vocation is where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger come together. Our deep gladness is things that we’re passionate about and really believe in. When our deep gladness meets up with the world’s deep hunger, more are brought to the kingdom of God.