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Saturday, February 04, 2012

SERMON FEB 5, 2012 MARK 1: 29-39

Early in the Gospel of Mark we find Jesus performing miracle after miracle, bearing witness to the power of God at work in and through him as the very Son of God. So let me ask you to consider: What is the greatest miracle in our Gospel for today?

Is it the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law?

The many healings that followed? The casting out of all of those demons?

Or perhaps that Jesus was willing to take time to be alone with God with so many people demanding his attention?

Or might it be what followed that time alone with God in prayer – that despite a robust ministry on in which everyone in town was seeking him, wanted to listen to him, to be touched by him, to be healed by him, that he stood up from his time alone in prayer, turned to the disciples and declared that it was time to move on -   To continue to fulfill his calling: to proclaim the good news. 

Could Jesus certainty that it was time to move on in his calling be the most significant miracle? 

Not as flashy as casting out demons or as thoughtful as healing Peter’s mother-in-law, but yet, when everything seemed to be going so well, when everyone seemed to be taken with him and his teaching and the manifestations of his power, to just move on, knowing that is what God had called him to do – wouldn’t that be miraculous: To risk moving out into the unknown, Swapping success for an open future?

 God called Jesus to move out and proclaim the Good News. To leave one place and move on to another.

What is God calling us to do, you and I?

Is that a question that we even dare ask ourselves?

 Think of Abraham way back in Genesis Chapter 12 hearing the call of God and leaving his life behind – taking Sarah and his nephew Lot and his household and leaving the home of his ancestors – moving on from the familiarity of Ur and trusting God to lead him to a new place, a place that God promised to show him. How one minute he was the paragon of a trusting faith and the next minute he was asking his wife to pretend to be his sister so various rulers wouldn’t, and this was Abraham’s true fear, kill him and take his wife for themselves.

 Think about Moses having established a new life after departing Egypt in a hurry after it became known that he had murdered an Egyptian who had been beating a Hebrew slave.  Married and in an important position as shepherd overseeing his Father-in-Law Jethro’s sheep, Moses on random day finds himself on top of Mount Horeb and next thing he knows God is talking to him out of a burning bush. And God isn’t there to chat about the weather, God is there to inform Moses of Moses’ true calling – to free God’s people from Egyptian slavery and lead them through the wilderness in the Promised Land. And let’s face it, Moses is more than a little reluctant to accept this calling. He tells God that first he really needs to know God’s name or the Hebrews might not believe him.  So God tells him, “My name is I am who I am.” Then Moses tells God that the Hebrews will essentially call Moses a liar and so God gives him a magic staff and other signs of power to convince that Hebrews that he is telling the truth. Then, you see Moses is afraid God isn’t getting the point that Moses really doesn’t want to accept this call – so Moses tells God, look, I am slow of speech. In other words, you picked the worst possible person to be your mouthpiece to the Hebrews. Then God says, look, I will be your mouth and teach you what to speak. So finally Moses tells God bluntly: Please send someone else!” And God, whose call is firm, tells Moses that God will send Aaron with Moses, to do all of the stuff that Moses feels inadequate about.  And that was that.

 We read in today’s Gospel:

In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. 36And Simon and his companions hunted for him. 37When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” 38He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.”

What is God calling us to do, you and me?
Is that a question that we even dare ask ourselves?

The first three years of my marriage coincided with my three years of duty upon the USS Pharris as a young junior grade lieutenant.  Nearly two of those three years were spent out at sea. And by the time my tour aboard that ship was finished, I knew that my calling was in a different vocation, but what that might be, I had no idea.  So I took some time and some prayer and opened myself up to a new calling.  I looked into becoming a high school English teacher. After all, I had been a college English major and loved teaching. I began taking classes to receive a teaching certificate, but then one day it just became clear: I was called to go to seminary and to be a pastor. Piper and I had been received into the Lutheran Church of Guam and welcomed into their ministry and loved the opportunities they gave us to teach and serve in other ways, God made that call clear and strong and affirmed it through many people.  Two years later, after Piper had completed her next naval job, she resigned from the navy and we sold our house, packed up the kids and went to seminary with tuition bills, no income and the closest family hours and hours away.  Well, a job opportunity opened for Piper so we could pay the rent and food assistance came so we didn’t starve. And it all worked out: I graduated, was approved as a pastor, voted and called by the congregation of Trinity as their sixth fulltime pastor and here I am still. Still doing what God called me to do.

What is God calling you to do?
Is that a question that you are willing to ask yourself?

Of all of the places that God may be calling you, one such place may be a vocation. This is what the Lutheran church says to you: “We need faithful, wise, and courageous people leading the church in the 21st century. We need  passionate, joy-filled, and adventurous people who want to make a difference by bringing healing and hope to others in this broken world.”

If you discern that God may be calling you into a vocation as a pastor, Associate in Ministry or Diaconal minister, please let me know and we can discern together.

Frederick Buechner once said that “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.”
Where is that place for you?

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.”

Listen: can you hear God calling?


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