When I was in junior high, I can remember making and receiving mix tapes. Musical gifts of time. They took hours! In fact, so many hours, that I cannot get rid of them! We have at least a box-full in the basement. You would listen to the radio on an oversized boom box for songs that you thought should be a part of the tape. Record the radio song onto the tape, trying to time it just right, not catch too much of the advertisement, but still trying to get the announcer stating the song title and the singer. Then waiting until the next song, you wanted to come on the radio to record it on the mixtape. Then, there was the business of writing out the list of the songs. This was a true labor of love. Every time I received one, I thought the giver paid attention and knew me so well. Every time I gave one, I tried to think about what the recipient liked and would enjoy, what communicated how I felt, and what I wanted to introduce them to. It took time and connection. Something we will need. Hold that thought.
This is our third of three weeks on 2017 goals for our congregation. First, we set the goal of reading through the Bible in a year. If you have not had a chance to start with us, please join us. Blue outlines are out in the Lobby. With days of reflection, you can still catch up with us. I hope you will. Last week, we were challenged to commit to one act of loving our neighbors. Your way of living out the biblical call to love our neighbor as ourselves as an outgrowth of our baptism. This week, I am challenging each of us to invite someone this year. Invite someone to church, to know Christ, to have their life changed by the presence of God in their life.
As we think about how invite others to know Jesus. In fact, Jesus is the best one to model our experiences after. In our gospel lesson, Jesus call the disciples. It begins with pain. We begin with the news of John’s arrest which causes Jesus to retreat to Capernaum in Galilee. There he continues the work of preaching the kingdom of God is at hand, repent, turn around. Disciples are beginning to follow him – Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John. They follow because they have been called. Jesus literally calls them out of what they had been doing to do something else. Jesus recognizes in them gifts that they have not yet recognized in themselves.
This is what calling is. Calling may be to the ordained, full time, set apart ministry. Calling may be to part time, while you are working, in the midst of it all ministry. Calling may be to parenting and raising up children who know God and live out God’s way in the world. Calling may be to seeking justice for the voiceless. Calling that may be the job you are paid for and calling that might not be that job that makes ends meet. Calling is what you are bursting to talk about.
This week, pastors and church leaders across Southern Chester County got a glimpse at our collaborative effort GSR (Give Serve Restore). You might remember we joined 13 other churches last year during Lent to do 1 service project, give 2 pounds of food, and 3 dollars for kids or 30 dollars for adults toward accelerating the common good in our region. Last year it was Young Mom and Good Neighbors.
You will hear more closer to Lent, but this year we will be supporting CASA – Court Appointed Special Advocates. This is a program to guarantee that each child in our foster care system, not only has a lawyer, but an advocate who thinks about them. An advocate, a trained volunteer who reads their case file and advocates for what is best for a child in foster care. This is compelling. Even more so, when a volunteer from CASA spoke.
She shared that she had no social work background or specific skills in these areas. She works in business by day, is a mother and a wife. Her heart was moved by the need for foster care children in our region. She has successfully shepherded one young woman through the program, taking her from unstable and unlikely to graduate high school to blooming and developing and on track to graduate college next year. She now has two cases, siblings who she feels call to love on and advocate for. In 10-15 hours a month, she has learned how to make sure educational needs, physical needs, emotional needs, and more are met for someone who has no one else to speak up for them. She responded to this call to give share her voice with the voiceless as a disciple of Christ.
For every time, we have wondered is God really calling me? Can I be called to volunteer? Can I be called to invite someone to know Jesus? Can I be called to intentional prayer? Can I be called to advocate on behalf of justice? Can I be called to love my neighbor even when it is so hard? Each of these callings is from God.
The disciples, Simon, Andrew, James and John, probably had no idea what exactly Jesus had called them to. There was no job description or vision statement, roles were not well defined nor was there a 5 year plan. But they knew Jesus saw value in them. They did not know what they were doing, where they were going or how they would get there, but they defined themselves as disciples of Jesus. In the three years that they walked with Jesus, they learned as they went. Sometimes being told they got it wrong. Sometimes transforming the lives of the marginalized and the afflicted.
We, too are called. In the short verse from Isaiah, we hear God speak to the prophet. Who shall go for us? The prophet responds in the affirmative. Who shall share the good news with the people who only know despair? Here am I – send me! Who shall share the good news with the brokenhearted? Here am I – send me! Who shall share the good news with those who have never heard it before? Here am I – send me!
We are called to share the good news with others. Sent to share the best gift ever with others. The recipient of the gift might not understand or know exactly what you mean. Even if they don’t quite know what being a child of God exactly means, we can tell them that God values and honors and loves and them. And we can tell them something else, too, that if they are open to being God’s children, they will learn over time what it means and, indeed, find all kinds of things to do in response to God’s call. Maybe the “doing” will come through their work. Or maybe through their volunteering. My guess is that most of their “doing” – that is, living out their calling in word and deed – will come through their relationships. But however it is that God may use them – indeed, all of us – it’s important to remember that before God calls us to do anything God first calls us to be something: God’s own beloved children. And knowing this, we can trust that the rest will follow.
Years have gone by, since I have made a mix tape, or even burned a CD for someone else or set up a playlist on Spotify for them. Part of it is the technology, I do not share music as I did. But I wonder, do I know people with the same sense of what they would love, what I feel, and what I want to introduce them to? As you consider who you might invite to join us, perhaps we, you and I need to treat it like making a mix-tape. We need to think about what they already love, why we feel as though we want them to join us and know Jesus, and what exactly we are trying to introduce them to.
Pray about who God is putting in your path. Pray that God would open your mind and heart as to how to invite the person. Pray for the person to have an open heart and mind. Pray for God to open a way. And then watch God use you for it to happen! With the love and care of making someone a mix tape, invite someone this year to know Jesus as Savior!
This is the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, thanks be to God, Amen.
Old Testament Lesson: Isaiah 6:8
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”
Gospel Lesson: Matthew 4:12-23
Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,
on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death
light has dawned.”
From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.
Meditations For Your Week
Sunday, January 22~ Saturday, January 28
Sunday: “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I; send me!’” Isaiah 6:8. Where is God sending you to God’s hands, feet, and heart in the world?
Monday: “Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the lake, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali.” Matthew 4: 12-14. The ministry of John was necessary to the ministry of Jesus. Jesus was moved and shaped by John’s work. Who is moving and shaping your ministry?
Tuesday: “So that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: ‘Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death, light has dawned.’” Matthew 4: 14-16. God moves through history and through our lives. Prayerfully consider where you have seen God’s movement.
Wednesday: “From that time Jesus began to proclaim, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’” Matthew 4:17. As God’s kingdom is known, we see in ourselves what needs to fall away. Repent of that which keeps you from following Jesus.
Thursday: “As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him.” Matthew 4: 18-20. Where has God been calling you to immediately follow?
Friday: “As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.” Matthew 4:21-22. Following Jesus was life changing and spiritually formative for James and John. They left their father and livelihood. How is God equipping you to fully follow?
Saturday: “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.” Matthew 4: 23. Teach and preach, bring health and hope. Prayerfully ask God how you might be used for Jesus’ mission?