S-1096A 1/25/09 3SAE/3C Hymns: (O) #412; (S) #421; L.S. #451; #313; #310 (C) #52
Texts Jonah 3:1-5, 10; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20
Theme: “They Left” (Mark 1:16-20)
SOLI DEO GLORIA
Question: “Have you heard the call lately?”
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation is based on the Gospel lesson: “Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, He [Jesus] saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’ And immediately they left their nets and followed Him. And going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed Him” (Mark 1:16-20)
Saints in Christ, there are two days in our US history that stand out as “Days of Infamy”. December 7, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, and 9-11 when Alcaeda attacked the Twin Towers of New York. When the enemy attacked us, Presidents Roosevelt, and George W. Bush called upon our brave men and women to take arms and fight the enemy and destroy them.
Many heard the call, and in one symphony they left to the drum beat of the Commander In Chief to take arms and fight the intruder who has riled up the Big Eagle. They left and marched from country and city, farms and factories, colleges and corporations, family and friends and enlisted in the service of their country. They left to avenge the memory of those whose lives came to an end at the altar of hate and injustice. They left because the Commander In Chief asked them to keep America safe and Freedom reigning.
In the Gospel reading today, we hear the Words of Jesus calling the disciples to follow Him into the service of His Kingdom. And as Jesus did, they left and followed Him. They followed Him not knowing where they would go and what they will do. But they left their homes, friends and family and followed not the Commander In Chief, but the Commander of Faith—Jesus Christ. They left because the Holy Spirit stirred their hearts to hear the call. PAUSE.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, you and I too as the children of God have a call. We have a call to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ and His mission of saving the world from sin, death and hell. In this place we get our training. In this place we are given the tools to fight the enemy not Japan or Alcaeda, but the devil and his cohorts. In this place we are armed with the greatest weapon—the Word of God—which is His Sword. And from this place we leave as God’s ambassadors to the world.
May we never forget who we are, and whose we are. We are the redeemed children of God. We are the baptized children of the heavenly Father. We are soldiers of the cross. We are God’s ambassadors. We are the missionaries to the world. Yes, you are, whether you are father or mother, son or daughter, farmer or fighter, Lawyer or layman; we are called to be fishers of men. And we leave this place and take in our hands and hearts the armament that will destroy the enemy and free those who are still under the bondage of sin, and hate and injustice.
As followers of Jesus we have our challenges. As followers of the Savior, we are to point others to what Christ the Commander of our Faith has done. As believers in the Risen Christ we are to be the hope and help for others. But sometimes we lose focus of what it is that God has called us to do as His beloved children. When things get tough we begin to complain and grumble against God and other followers of Jesus. We complain about the mundane things and consider the many sacrifices made. PAUSE.
This is similar to what is going on in our nation now. When President Bush called our brave young soldiers to arms shortly after 9-11, all who heard the call left with one accord and with one mission—find Osama Bin Laden and destroy those who hate us. But as the war lingered on, the media’s and public uproar began to be heard in every place. They began to say, “That we went to war by mistake. President Bush didn’t know what he was doing when he called us to arms. We should bring our entire troops home; and bring an end to this war.”
So it is with us as followers of Jesus. We question the Commander of our Faith. We question why we have to go through the many challenges. We question why people don’t appreciate what we do for them. We question if we are doing the right thing. We question God on many fronts.
The reason we do this, is because we are self-centered and selfish. Even though we are serving God, yet we want to serve ourselves because we know what is best for us. We tell God, “Yes, Lord I will follow You and serve You more only to the place I desire.” Even though we have heard and heeded the call, yet we want to be in charge of where God takes us. God says, “Sit in the wheelbarrow and let me push you.” We say, “Gladly.” But with one leg on the inside and another on the outside, so that God doesn’t push us down the steep hill of His choosing.
Oh how much we get tangled in the affairs of the world and forget the call that the Savior has called us to do by following Him and making disciples of all nations. We tend to listen to the devil and ignore the will and ways of the Commander of our Faith. We forget that we are called to go where He sends us, rather than where we want to be.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, indeed we have made sacrifices for the sake of the ministry. We give freely of our time. We joyfully (almost always) give of our finances to the Lord’s work. We participate in Bible study and other Christian activities. And we consider these things as great sacrifices. However, these sacrifices pale in comparison to the Father and Son mission of redeeming the world. It pales in comparison to the call that the Father extended to His Son in the heavenly kitchen saying, “Son, You need to go down and save the human race from the destructive power of hell, and sin and death.” And Jesus did. PAUSE.
Jesus heard the call and He left His heavenly Throne and went on the greatest rescue mission the world has ever known. He left to free us and redeem us and restore us to the right relationship with His heavenly Father. He left and came to earth and brought with Him the Gospel of love and life. He left and came to earth and taught us to forgive others for His sake. He left and came to earth and showed us in word and deed the truth of being a faithful follower.
His life was a reflection of His rescue mission. The cost of the success of this rescue mission was not the billion dollars, armaments or time, but flesh and blood shed on the cross outside the walls of Jerusalem. The cost of the success of this rescue mission can’t be counted in words that fill the media, but the words spoken by our Fearless Leader, Jesus Christ who cried from the cross, “Father, forgive them…” And the Good News, God did for the sake of His Son,—the Commander of our Faith. PAUSE.
Saints in Christ, our work in this congregation is not done. We have much to do as followers of the Savior and soldiers of the cross. By His grace alone we have heard the call like the disciples and followed Jesus even to the point of giving up their lives for the sake of the Gospel.
Sadly many among our saints have left for the wrong reasons. Fathers have abandoned their families for the sake of pleasure. Mothers left their children for the sake of careers. Children left their parents because they didn’t want to live under their rules. Many just leave because they don’t want to hear or heed the Words of Jesus or come to Him for forgiveness. Our work is not done in this place.
We have much to learn dear saints in Christ from the words of the Savior, our Commander In Faith. When He called the Disciples they followed Him. But when the going got tough they abandoned Him in the Garden. When the soldiers came in the night to the Garden of Gethsemane all of them ran away and left Him all alone to carry on the Greatest Rescue Mission and He did it on the cross of Calvary and through the empty tomb.
And this same Jesus promises that He will never leave us or forsake us. You and I will never be alone. His signature is the blood He shed. When we carry out the ministry that we have been called to do, we go in His name and by His might. We can be certain that He will guide and guard our steps even as we go complaining and grumbling.
But as we gather around His Word and Sacrament, we are encouraged and equipped to go and continue going on the mission to which He has called us—calling sinners to repentance and pointing them to the ONLY One who loves them enough to die for their sins, Christ Jesus our Lord. God grant us the will and joy and privilege to hear and heed the call for Christ’s sake. Amen.
Now the peace of God…