January 21, 2018
Mk 1:14-20; Jonah 3:1-5,10
Last week, I was talking to a parishioner who said that when I preach I am really a teacher. As I thought about it, I realized there was some truth to what he said. That being the case, today’s sermon will really be the teacher in me coming out, which means you will be more involved then you normally are during the sermon time. When the time comes you will see why I am saying that.
Let’s look at a couple of our texts today, the Old testament text and the Gospel. Both texts are dealing with calling.
In the OT passage, we have part of the incredible story of Jonah, a story which is not to be taken literally with all its wildly exaggerated details, whale included. It is a powerful story of a person fighting their calling and a powerful story of God’s incredible forgiving nature.
Today though, we are looking at the idea of calling. God is calling Jonah to go preach to the people of Nineveh warning them if they do not repent, God would destroy the city. This is the second time, God is calling Jonah. The first time you will remember, he ran away which got him into all kinds of trouble, including being swallowed up by the whale.
He did not want the calling God was given him because Nineveh was the enemy. No way did he want to warn them. Let God destroy them.
The second time around he accepts the call, goes to Nineveh and preaches as he was told to do. They repent. Today’s reading does not deal with Jonah’s response.
He accepted the call and acted on it.
Let’s look at the gospel passage. Today’s gospel passage, like last week’s that was talking about the calling of Philip and Nathaniel, is talking about the call of Simon, Andrew, and then later John and James. These four are fishermen, very ordinary folks.
We don’t know anything about whether this was the first time he spoke to them, or not. All we know is what is written. Jesus calls them and gives them a mission. They will fish now for people. No doubt they probably knew enough to know that Jesus was on a mission, calling people to repentance and announcing the coming reign of God.
Simon, later renamed Peter, Andrew, James and John, heard the call, dropped their nets and joined Jesus on his mission. They too now would call people to the same message.
So today, we are continuing to look at our calling. As people who have been baptized, you/we are disciples of Jesus. We have been called by God and that is what I want us to work on this morning. I want you to define your mission, your calling. For some, this might be self-evident, for others it might be more difficult.
Jonah’s call to mission was to preach to the people of Nineveh. Today’s four disciples were called to join Jesus and preach and call people to prepare for the reign of God.
Now the question I want us to work on today is, what is your mission? You might feel more comfortable using the word calling, which comes from the Latin vocatio, which the word vocation also comes from. So what is your mission or calling?
Before we go any further though, I want to share something my father use to tell me. ‘Il n’y a pas de sot métier’. There is no dumb job. It was to remind us as kids to respect all people because everyone has a role to play in society. All that to say is, as you seek to define your calling, do not minimize what you are called to do, what your calling is. Every role we play is important, whether in society or in our families, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, each an important role.
Now this is where, I am going away from the typical preaching style to a more teaching, workshop style.
The following exercise I am going to lead you in, I had the opportunity of doing in 2004, on a men’s week-end called Mankind project. It truly helped me define who I was and my mission.
Now, since we don’t have note pads and pencils, if you have a cell phone, I would invite you to open it to NOTES.
Start a new one and write, (or write on your bulletin):
- My calling is to ….Now stop there.
As followers of Christ, we, like today’ disciples, are called to help announce and prepare for the reign of God.
I am going to update that expression and suggest you continue your phrase: My calling is to create a world of. The reign of God, or Kingdom of God is really talking about a better world.
So think about it? What type of world would you want to create? What 3 or 4 words would you use to describe that world you would want to see?
You have 2 minutes, write it:
My calling is to create a world of………
In 2004, I wrote My calling is to create a world of love, peace, tolerance and diversity.
Anyone game to share so far what they have worked out?
- So now you have an idea of what your calling is. The next part of this exercise is just as important. How are you going to go about it?
Think about it, given your context now, your age, your work, or how you occupy your time, your family situation, how can you help create that better world you have a vision of?
The adult working as an electrician, or as a cook, or as a teacher, or as a student, they each will have a different answer, a different focus, as will the parent of children at home.
Now this is harder to do here, so I will share what I worked out for myself in 2004, it probably would be different now given my age and work situation.
In 2004, My calling was to create a world of love, peace, tolerance and diversity by loving and accepting myself and others.
Fourteen years ago, it was very specific to my personal and professional life, I realized what I felt called to do started first with me, then I could start living it with others.
Now, fourteen years later it would be My calling is to create a world of love, peace, tolerance and diversity by loving and accepting myself and others, and by sharing with others a vision of that better world.
Go back to your note and write down how you can work out your mission, your calling:
My calling is to create a world of….by….
I won’t ask anyone to share that part of this discerning exercise. I want you to continue to work at it at home in your prayer time, your meditation time because each one of us, as disciples of Jesus, are called to help shape this world to resemble more what God would imagine.
Sisters and brothers in Christ, we are each called to make this world a better place, what we call the Kingdom of God.
Each one of us, given our age, experiences and lives led, have an idea of that better world would look like. That is your calling.
Each one of us will have specific contributions then to make this happen, that is how it will come about.
Continue to listen then to the Spirit that is calling you to your mission.