Mark 1: 14-18
(Also preached on Sunday morning at St Mark's)
So...there you are, at home. You're maybe digging the garden. Or preparing the dinner. Or perhaps you're mending your fishing rod for a day on the river...and there comes a knock at the door. On the doorstep is a wandering preacher, who looks straight into your soul and says "Come. Follow me".
What do you do? You've got a family who are relying on you. You've got responsibilities to them, and to your neighbours. You've got an employer who is expecting you to be at work...or a teacher who expects you in class. But there's something about this preacher. There's something inspiring about him.
Of course, you know something about him already. You've heard some of his teachings, and you've heard the rumour that he's out and about looking for followers. But you never expected that he would knock on your door.
So what do you do? Should you simply follow him out of the door? Should you step out on a new adventure...and let all your other responsibilities take care of themselves? Or should you shut the door in the preacher's face?
What do you do?
But you've been intrigued by this preacher's message. You've already heard him, talking about how the 'Kingdom of God'...the new government of God...is coming. You've heard him calling people to turn away from society's normal ways of doing things. You've heard him saying that people need to 'repent'...to turn away...and to believe that there is good news.
But that's hard, isn't it? Good news. Hmm. Good news for whom? The last time you heard the phrase 'Good News' was when a bunch of soldiers rode through the town. They were proclaiming that there was 'good news' about the Emperor, Caesar. Apparently - according to the soldiers - Caesar had declared himself to be the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings...and this was 'good news'. Apparently. According to the soldiers, 'there is no other name by which people can be saved than the name of Caesar'. Considering the amount of taxes you are having to pay to Caesar, and considering the number of soldiers all over the countryside, it doesn't feel much like good news to you.
But this wandering preacher - this Jesus-bloke - he's talking about another kind of good news altogether. Or at least that's what you've been hearing. Apparently, his good news is good news for the poor. And for those who are mourning. And for those who are pure in heart. And for those who are peacemakers. That's a bit different than good news for Caesar, and for business-men and for weapon-makers...
Perhaps Jesus' good news...good news for the poor, and the oppressed, and the meek...perhaps that is worth following. Perhaps that is worth laying aside your family responsibilities for a while.
What do you do? Are you prepared to follow this call to 'Follow me'. Because that's what heroes do. Heroes throughout history are always given a call to follow. Sometimes they resist that call. Like Moses who resisted the call to lead the people out of slavery. Like Jonah who resisted the call to go and tell the people of Nineveh to repent.
Because calls are dangerous. Calls lead us out of our safe, secure lives into lives of adventure, possible danger, and even death. But isn't the case that the best journeys are the ones where there is adventure and challenge along the way?
That's a challenge that many soldiers have followed over the centuries. It's a challenge to stand up and fight for what you believe in. It's a challenge to leave family and home - and to become a peace-maker, often in a foreign land. It's a challenge that will certainly include adventure. It might well end in death.
But's it's a hero's call. It's a call to transform a society - perhaps through fighting, perhaps through diplomacy, perhaps through the transforming power of rendering aid and giving food to starving people. It's a call to stand up against powers of oppression that would seek to dominate an entire population...just like the Egyptians dominated the Israelites.
So what do you do?
Do you follow this preacher - this Jesus? You don't know where he might lead you. Perhaps he'll lead you on a path to destruction. Perhaps he's trying to put together a rebel army to over-throw the oppressive dictator's army. Or perhaps he's talking about another kind of kingdom altogether...a kingdom of God's rule, which God, and only God can ultimately establish.
And if you follow him on this path, and if you die, will anyone remember you? Will anyone sing laments for your passing? Or will you lie in an unmarked grave on some foreign battle-field?
Wouldn't it just be easier to stay at home. And go fishing tomorrow.
Wouldn't it be easier easier to just settle back in your comfortable chair, tend your garden, dandle your children on your knee, and pretend that everything's alright with the world. Wouldn't it be easier to never give your time, your energy, your skills, or your money to any other living soul?
Yes. It would be easier. But where's the adventure in that? Where's the challenge? Where's the growth? Where's the chance to be changed from glory into glory ever more like the image of God your Creator?
"Come. Follow me. And I will make you fish for people".
You hear the call. You know something of what it means. It's something about doing things differently. It's something about living differently...living for others, not for yourself. It's something about acquiring scars and wounds, instead of the latest stuff from the market. It's something about giving up home and family, and having nowhere to lay your head for the sake of a bigger vision, a better vision. A vision of a new kind of Kingdom.
You've heard the call.
What do you do?
What do you do?
What do you do?
Note: this sermon/meditation was immediately followed by an Act of Remembrance, including the customary two minutes silence in memory of those who have given their lives for our freedom.