Monday, January 9th. Mark 1:16-20

As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.  Mark 1:16-20

I wish I could talk to Jesus.  Not in prayer.  Not in my imagination.  But face to face, man to man, personally.  I want to see what he looks like when he talks to me.  Does he look me in the eye?  Does he gaze off into a distance only he can see?

The Bible, particularly the gospel stories, does this to us.  It draws us in.  It appeals to our imaginations.  The words come into us and start dancing.  The Word becomes incarnate in our hearing.

My guess is that we react differently to this calling of the first disciples.  Someone might say, “Jesus was so compelling that he was irresistible, mesmerizing, and people couldn’t help themselves but follow when invited.”

Someone else might say, “God already knew who the right disciples were so he sent Jesus to them and, with a one sentence invitation, they sensed the compelling Spirit of God and left everything to follow Jesus.”

Or, “Since the Bible tells us almost nothing about Jesus’ life before this point, it is safe to say that he had long developed a group of like-minded friends who followed him for years.  It didn’t happen as Mark would have us believe but eventually Jesus did attract a significant following.”

Such imaginings are interesting but what I am most interested in is how can we do that again?  What does it take to help a modern 20-something or 30-something or young couple with children who are scheduled up to their eyeballs find faith and their place in Christian community?  How does the Spirit enable us to do it again?

Here is what I’m fascinated about this year – I am remembering again that the Christian movement took root in people’s lives and continued to grow during the 40+ years between the death and resurrection of Jesus and the writing of the gospels.  That is a long time, a lifetime.

All that earliest Christian movement had was an experience of God in Jesus that transformed their lives.  No written Bible, no organized worship life, no church buildings, no hymnal, no paid staff, nothing that we think is essential for “doing church.”  Nothing except people talking to people.  People telling both the Jesus story and their own story and then choosing to live their lives differently.

I don’t think that all we have added to the Christian experience through the years is evil.  Most is actually helpful.  But much can be distracting.  So I don’t want us to miss the simplicity and the beauty we see in this moment by the lake – “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” – and they did!

Peter, James, John – and now us today.  We’re all in the same boat, still following the same Lord, still given the same commission.  And my sense is that what worked then is all that really works today – one person caring enough about another to tell a compelling story about how God is transforming their lives.

Let us pray:  Dear Lord, you called common fishermen to follow you in reaching new people – we pray that you continue to do this work through us today.  Use us to bring a new way of seeing and doing life that brings hope to the hopeless, home to the stranger, healing to the broken and justice for the forgotten.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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