Sunday Sermon 24th January- The Moment
The chosen hymns for this week, Come, now is the time to worship: and Will you come and follow me can be found below along with a transcription of the sermon for those who prefer to read.
Mark 1: 14-20.
Welcome to our time of reflection for Sunday 24th January.
I don’t know about you but I am finding the second lockdown harder than the first.
I think of all the things I am not allowed to do, and I have so much time for all the things I can do that I
end up with little enthusiasm to do them.
Part of that may be the result of the first lockdown.
It seemed to go on and on and on, but it was for a good cause, we would defeat this virus...and we didn’t. We went through all of that effort and we are back at square one, in fact we may even be further back than square one.
And it’s Ok the government telling us that this is the final hurdle and then we are back to normal, but that is what they promised us the last time.
And what if another mutation appears that the vaccine is ineffective against, or what if something else appears and we have to go through all of this again?
Another thing is that in our head that first lockdown was wasted space.
If we knew it was going to be so long we could maybe have used that time wisely, constructively. We could have learnt a musical instrument, or maybe a new language, or maybe taken an online course.
You know what I learnt, how to stand on one leg.
Seriously, I learnt that over lockdown.
Didn’t mean to, but it was part of the warm down exercises I had started. And they encouraged us to balance on one leg. I kept falling over or holding onto chairs to do it at the start, but nearly a year later and I can balance on one leg...I can see that your impressed.
But if you are not impressed with me, then how much more are you disappointed with yourself and what you did during that first lockdown.
That’s why today’s reading is so important.
Mark 1: 14-20
So here is my thought for today...
There are moments when we have to make decisions, and those moments change our lives.
I would suggest that this day is one of those moments for us.
This is the moment Jesus starts his ministry and he starts it by inviting others to join in his adventure of community.
He just goes up to James and John, Peter and Andrew and says, ‘Follow me’, and they follow.
Was it as easy as that?
I am sure that there were lots of reasons that Jesus could have given for not starting his ministry then and there.
For a start he knew his cousin John had been arrested by Herod.
This Herod was the son of the Herod that tried to kill Jesus when he was a child.
Jesus knew how dangerous it was to get in the crosshairs of the Herod family. The Herod’s did what they did and no one could stop them.
Jesus must have feared for the life of his cousin.
His cousin John the Baptist had been fearless. He had openly given the message that God’s kingdom was there for anyone who wanted to be part of it.
Part of that message was that if we are equal under God then the world should be fairer, and we should work towards the world being fairer. We should stand up against oppression.
As part of this John the Baptist had openly stood up against Herod and some of the things he had done. And Herod had arrested him.
In the end Herod would have John executed. John would be beheaded under the orders of Herod. Oh Herod would claim it wasn’t his fault, it was just the system, he was put in an impossible place.
The truth is that Herod had the power to free John and he didn’t use it.
And at that moment Jesus is thinking of starting his ministry. As a relative of John the Baptist he would be on the radar of Herod’s spies. If he starts giving the same message as John, or even a more advanced version of John’s message, then he would really be in the crosshairs of Herod.
There are plenty of reasons why Jesus could have said, ‘I’ll just wait till things have quietened down.’
‘I’ll go somewhere where it is safer and give my message.’
‘Maybe I’ll give a safer message.’
Lots of reasons not to do what had to be done.
But this was his message and this was his moment.
And he took it.
And it wasn’t just Jesus that had to make that decision.
Jesus asks Peter and Andrew, James and John to follow him.
Jesus forces them to make a decision.
Now we might turn round and say to ourselves, ‘Well it’s fine for Jesus to act like that but we are not the Son of God. We have ordinary lives to live.’
That was the position that James and John, Peter and Andrew were in.
Ordinary people living ordinary lives and Jesus says to them, ‘Let’s stop with the ordinary, start living the life of community that God has in place for you.’
I am sure that in the seconds that they had, they went through every excuse that they could think of why this was a bad idea...
‘How will I feed my family?
What will I live on?
What if we get into trouble?
What are my parents going to say?
What are my neighbours going to say?
What if this doesn’t work?’
And even if they thought it was a good idea they would still have thought of excuses as to why not to follow Jesus...
‘I could do this when I have more time and I do not have to bring up a family.
Maybe I should wait till I retire.
I think other people would be better than this.
I don’t have the experience I need to do this.
I am well out my comfort zone.
This is a big decision; I should talk this through with others first
I have other responsibilities and I just can’t fit this in just now.’
The truth was that this is the message they needed to hear, and this was the moment they needed to react to that message.
And I will be honest here, I think this is a message we need to hear just now, and this is the message we need to react to just now.
The temptation is that we are in the middle of another lockdown and we are not sure when it will finish.
We are isolating ourselves from others, for very good reasons.
But we are creatures of community, that is the way God has made us, and God is calling us to be true to ourselves. To be creatures that thrive on community, that create community, that care for those around them.
And I think God is calling us to be true to ourselves.
We can create community.
But we spend our lives trying to immunise ourselves from boredom by filling our days with television and other mind numbing activities.
Let us decide that we will seize this moment to create God’s community where we are.
Sure there are lots of things we can’t do, but there are lots of things we can do.
We can decide to phone a friend, or friends, or text them, or Zoom them.
We can exercise with one person outdoors. That might just be walking with a friend or a neighbour down to the shops and back.
I got a letter the other day. I can’t remember the last time I got a letter from someone.
Maybe this is the time for you to write to someone, or a few people and share your frustrations and concerns about your life and for their life. Or just write and reminisce about better times.
I am sure there are plenty of reasons for us to do these things on another day.
But it is those reasons that we give to ourselves that are killing us mentally and emotionally.
Today is the day we need to listen to God and act.
God wants us to be part of a kingdom of community; to love and be loved, to care and be cared for, to support and be supported, to encourage and be encouraged.
There is no point in just wishing we could be part of that.
It is time to act, to be an agent of community.
To say, ‘Here I am, I will follow.’
Let us pray
Every moment of every day is an opportunity to be the people you created us to be.
To look at the world that we live in and be active in it.
To look at our neighbours and care.
To look at our families ad care.
To look at our lives and care.
We have a chance to rejoice in the truth that this is your world, and you care for it.
You care for us and our lives, where we have been, where we are going.
And you have a plan for our lives, a way for us to live our lives so that they may be fulfilled and meaningful.
To rejoice that you seek the best for our family and friends and that we can be part of making their lives better.
To rejoice that you put people in our lives that help guide us and inspire us.
To rejoice that we have the chance to inspire and support others.
That we can even reach out to strangers near and far and give opportunities to help them.
We are so dependent on others.
There are so many people out there that help make our world worthwhile.
From shop workers and delivery systems that supply food, to council workers that keep the roads clean, to medical staff that are working so hard just now, to educational staff that are working through the restrictions to help our children, to politicians struggling with all the problems our nation faces.
All of them on land and sea and air that we never see but you have put in their place and on whom our lives depend.
May we in turn be open to your promptings and whispers today, as we seek to make the lives of others more worthwhile.
This we ask in Jesus name
Remember, if this is a message that you think someone else would benefit from then please share it with them.
May the God that gives us breath,
also give us a voice
to praise, to rejoice, to speak kind words to others.
May the God that gives us life,
also give us hands
to reach out in comfort and help where we can.
May the God that gives us meaning,
also give us wisdom
to see the choices we have,
and choose the right ones at the right time.