Sermon. January 24, 2021
Rev. John Steitz
In Mark’s Gospel the action starts right away. We have many places where the action moves forward, “Immediately.” Here Jesus calls out to the brothers Simon and Andrew while they are fishing to “Follow me and I will make you fishers of people.” And “Immediately they left their nets and followed him.”
Soon afterward Jesus sees the brothers James and John repairing their nets and Jesus “Immediately” calls for them and they leave their father with hired men and follow Jesus.
After more than a quarter century serving as a minister in 15 different congregations I can tell you that not much seems to happen in the local church “Immediately.” We move forward with deliberate speed, sometimes fairly quickly and sometimes rather slowly.
The Gospel text looks at Jesus’ call to discipleship to a set of two brothers. Three of these, Simon also known as Peter, James, and John will emerge as Jesus’ inner circle.
Local churches in the mainline Protestant don’t engage much in a direct form of evangelism that Jesus displays here. In large part a reaction to the pushy, shaming and manipulative style of evangelicals we tend to be rather passive when it comes to calling and inviting people to join in a discipleship journey with Jesus.
Although we don’t do evangelism directly, and even shutter at the concept we do model and share following in the Way of Jesus with others. We do this through living out and expressing our Core Values in action.
Jesus called Simon, Andrew, James and John to follow him and they immediately do so. Gradually will they learn about the Core Values of Jesus’ teaching and what being his disciple entails.
We express the Core Values of Jesus in the way we live and act as a Jesus community and through that process people are encouraged to become Jesus’ disciples.
Jesus endorsed this Core Values discipleship process when he gave his Love Commandment at the Last Supper. Love one another as I have loved you. It is through your love for one another that others will know that you are my disciples.
We have developed a set of four Core Values based on Jesus’ Way. Each of these Core Values is based on a Gospel text.
We are SPIRITUALLY ALIVE, which is based on the Great Commandment (Matthew 22: 35 – 38).
We are committed to MAKING DISCIPLES, based on the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20).
We are a LOVING CHURCH FAMILY, based on the Love Commandment (John 13: 34-35).
We are committed to NEIGHBORHOOD ENGAGEMENT, based on the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:39-40).
When we embody these four Core Values and put them into action we call others to join us in practicing the Way of Jesus in our lives together. This is how we evangelize. This is how we express who we are and invite others to follow Jesus.
Each of the four Core Values has three key practices, for a total of twelve. Today I will focus especially on the key practices that express our Core Value of being Spiritually Alive. We will look at the key practices that express Making Disciples, Loving Church Family and Neighborhood Engagement in the near future.
We live out our Core Value of being Spiritually Alive through these key practices:
- We love God with our whole being through Worship.
- We are inspired by the Holy Spirit to express loving God through Music.
- We seek to love God more fully through Prayer and Spiritual Practices.
Our worship, music, prayers and spiritual practices move us to center our lives on loving God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength. When we do this we are spiritually alive.
When Jesus encounters the brothers who are fishers he is going through Galilee proclaiming the good news of God saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe the good news.”
To repent literally means to turn around 180 degrees. When we repent we turn around. We are reoriented and change our direction.
The Core Value of being Spiritually Alive through the practices of worship, music, and prayer are a spiritual GPS helping us follow the path of Jesus Christ.
There is much that we need to repent. There is great division in our country. There is a pandemic that needs to be addressed rather than downplayed and ignored. There is economic hardship and poverty that calls for economic justice and relief. There is systemic racism that demands our full attention and resolve to change. There is degrading and disrespect of people based on their gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity that must be challenged.
We are able to repent and to meet these challenges as we embrace loving God and being spiritually alive. Our worship, music, and prayer sustains us, provides sanctuary and rest to reenergize, and gives us the courage to face the challenges before us.
Our Core Values are integrated as one whole. There is not spiritually over here and social justice over there.
Just as the challenges before us are intersectional so to the resources of faith that we have are interwoven together.
Loving God through worship, music, and prayer gives us the inner strength to be Spiritually Alive in this moment. The Holy Spirit provides us with a spirituality of love that guides us as we engage in our daily lives. Our social justice work is grounded in this spirituality of love, nurturing and sustaining us as we gather together through worship, music, and prayer.
Jesus calls these brothers by the seaside to follow him. They immediately do so. The begin a discipleship journey with Jesus learning to follow his Way of Love.
Jesus calls us to follow him. We seek to do this through embodying our Christ centered and Gospel based Core Values.