Message for Jan. 24, 2021

Worship January 24, 2021


I welcome you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

For just this hour,                                                                             Follow me
Listen to my word                                                                             Follow me         
Think about your life as my disciple every day                           Follow me
Pray                                                                                                      Follow me
Sing                                                                                                      Follow me
Come, let us worship God!

Opening Prayer

Gracious Christ, you came to the fishermen when the prophet John was taken away.
Come to us now, as we fear losses of our own.
Grant us courage to cast aside the nets that bind us, to follow you into true freedom and newness of life.
Help us to be faithful disciples, that we might inspire others to follow in your ways. Amen.

written by B.J. Beu, posted on the Ministry Matters website. 

Hymn    TFWS # 2130 (verse 1)    The Summons


Conversion of Nineveh

The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.

10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Mark1:14-20 (NRSV)

The Beginning of the Galilean Ministry

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news[a] of God,[b] 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near;[c] repent, and believe in the good news.”[d]

Jesus Calls the First Disciples

16 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. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. 



In 1876 Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone. Of course this just didn’t happen overnight, in the early 1870’s there was competition, experimentation and developments and on March 10th, 1876 Bell achieved success.

In his notebook entry for that date he describes his successful accomplishment and notes that he spoke to his assistant Watson, who was in another room, saying “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to speak to you”.

The device created to call others looks nothing like what we use today.

I believe this is supposed to be Bell using his invention to call Watson.

Later inventions to call someone looked something like this – this version I’ve seen in museums as it was technology before my time.

I do not recall using the telephone in the upper right, but the lower right is what we had when I was growing up. The Panasonic on the left is very much like the device I used to make and receive calls at my office.

Today this is what I use to call people – hold up my phone

Although the technology has changed, and I might add continues to change, this devise continues to allow us to call people.

Our scripture today caused me to both think about calling and fishing. Now I don’t fish anymore but I did as a child. Many Sunday mornings my grandpa would say “well Debbie, do you want to go to church or do you want to go fishing”. Well is there any doubt which activity I wanted to do!

So grandma would pack a lunch and grandpa and I would pack the fishing gear and off we would go. I don’t remember what lake we went to, but I do remember catching fish – well that is if you call bullheads a fish worth catching.  The only fish I remember catching there in Southwestern Minnesota were bullheads.

I have pondered calls and fishing and fishing and calls this week.

Jesus begins his ministry by proclaiming the “good news” of the gospel, and when he says in verse 15 “the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near” he is doing just that. He is the Good News.

Jesus’ coming was the fulfillment of the “fullness of time,” because he is the messenger promised in the Old Testament. Jesus repeats the message of John the Baptist, “Repent and believe in the good news.”

The emphasis of Mark’s gospel is that Jesus’ coming is the “Good News,” a term that occurs three times  in the first fifteen verses of the book of Mark.

We are now focusing on the beginning of Jesus’ ministry as he calls his disciples (did you hear that? Jesus calls his disciples and yet telephones had not been invented). He had already called Philip and Nathanael. In today’s story he calls four fishermen at the Sea of Galilee — Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John.

Once again, we don’t know what there was about Jesus that led Simon, Andrew, James, John, and others to leave their homes and families to follow Jesus. Perhaps they already know him already? Or maybe this was their first contact with him? In any case there must have been something compelling about Jesus to cause these and others to follow him into an uncertain future. An amazing thing about the story is that they followed Jesus with no idea of where it would lead.

We know very little of the background of any of the disciples whom Jesus calls. The four in today’s story were fishermen. They probably weren’t fishing for bullheads and the call from Jesus didn’t come through a telephone.

As far as we can tell, the twelve persons Jesus called to be his companions were ordinary men. As far as we know, Jesus didn’t do background checks to determine IQ levels, speaking ability, professional skills, or temple education. He picked people probably much like you and me, ordinary folks living ordinary lives. Furthermore, his disciples were anything but perfect. Many times they misunderstood him. They often hesitated to follow him. Judas betrayed him and Peter denied him not once but three times.

But these would be the persons who would continue Jesus’ work on earth after he left — ordinary people, like you and me. They were called by Jesus and the said to that call.

Furthermore Jesus’ first disciples were “northerners,” from the northern province of Galilee. The capital of Israel was Jerusalem in the former southern kingdom, the religious center with the temple. It is no wonder that Jesus was greeted with such doubt when he travelled to Jerusalem from his home in Galilee with his Galilean friends. The religious leaders in Jerusalem naturally considered Jesus an “outsider.”

As far as we know, every one of the disciples was chosen and called personally by Jesus. We believe that God calls each one of us. God not only calls us to follow Jesus, but also calls us into the fields and careers of our lives. We often speak of “God’s call” too narrowly, as if God “calls” people only into ordained ministry. It is true that God calls people to be pastors and church workers. But God’s call is not limited to clergy. God calls every single one of us.

My husband Rod has often said that his called is to support my call as a pastor and he does in so many ways.

In the Middle Ages the clergy was considered a higher status of Christian than laypersons. They had their own routine of frequent daily worship that laypersons didn’t have. They had church rules to follow, which laypersons didn’t have. They usually lived in communities — monasteries and convents — unlike laypersons.

The Reformation, a 16th-century movement abolishing the abuses by the Church and ending in the establishment of the Reformed and Protestant Churches eliminated those distinctions between clergy and lay by affirming that God calls everybody. Every job that works to build up and maintain society is a calling — teacher, insurance agent, car mechanic, doctor, etc. We also have callings within family structures — mother, father, aunt, uncle, child, etc. We serve God in these family callings as well.

A friend of mine, a pastor in the United Methodist Church, often says her husband, a junior high science teacher, feels as called into his position as she does as a pastor.

The Old Testament lesson from the book of Jonah is also a story about “calling,” but with ironic twists. Jonah is called to proclaim a message to people he doesn’t like — a message he hopes will not be accepted. After trying unsuccessfully to avoid his calling, he finally arrives in Nineveh and delivers the shortest sermon in the Bible, an eight-word threat of destruction. To his dismay the sermon is effective. The book of Jonah ends as God makes clear to Jonah that mercy is for everyone who repents.

Jonah’s call included the message he was to deliver, but in today’s gospel the four fishermen are called with no further instructions whatsoever. They are called to a totally uncertain future and would surely have been scared out of their wits had they known what lay in store for them.

God’s call is always into an uncertain future. When we enter into our calling we have no idea how it will all end up. We choose our careers and jobs hoping that we can use the gifts and talents God has given us, but there are no guarantees.

Every pastor has a call story, the story contains the how, the when, the where and the who and the what.

My friends you also are called. You too have a call story. Your story is uniquely yours, no other will have the same story.

Fisherman out in their boats called by this man that they maybe had heard or maybe not. We have more we have the history written for us in the bible.

We know about repentance, we know about Jesus dying on the cross so we can have eternal life, we know the resurrection of Jesus, we know the promises made and the commands left for us. We are called, each of us is called.

Have you thought about how God has called you, did you respond? or did you try to run the other way? My pastor friend Bob says he ran as hard as he could for as long as he could before he answered God’s call. Bob did eventually answer God’s call and he now works in the church and he himself is helping others answer their call.

Long before I answered God’s call into ministry, I toyed with the what-if’s – what if I waited until retirement and then volunteered in a nursing home, what if I continued as I was? leading studies and teaching Sunday school. What if I ignored this nudging I was feeling? What if? What if I answered God’s call? What if I don’t know what that call is?

One Christmas sitting around with many of Rod’s family one of his brothers asked me “how’s it going with that pastor idea”. This question caught me a bit off guard after a hesitation I said “God and I are wrestling about it” After a drink of his beverage he said “you know you are going to lose that one don’t you”?

In the course of five years I went from the nursing home idea to saying yes to God and here I am.

I need to be very clear about a couple things. First it is not only men that God calls – He calls everyone! Sometimes I have to remind myself that the Bible was written by men in a male dominate time in history. It is no wonder women weren’t mentioned.

Also scripture does refer to women just not in this story. But there were women following Jesus, women called and saying yes to the calling.

The second thing that needs to be abundantly clear is that God calls us in all sorts of roles, positions and situations. It is not just clergy that are called. I became a pastor in September 2016. Long before that date Jesus often called me.

Jesus called me to co-lead, with my husband, a senior high youth group for a few years way back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. In the early 2000’s I felt called to lead a junior high youth group.

In the mid 2000’s I befriended a number of nursing home residents spending time with them, listening to them, sharing with them.

I try to listen to God in as many ways as I can. If someone is one my mind, I try to make the time to reach out to them. If someone is alone in a crowd, I try to strike up conversation.

I don’t tell you these things to pat myself on the back. I tell you these things to plant seeds for you to see that you can answer God’s call in so many ways, the big ways and in small ways.

He calls you and you don’t need a smart phone to hear that call – I firmly believe he calls each of us. Today I ask you to open your heart and your mind to hearing His call. Once you hear that call take action. If you don’t know what action to take pray asking Him to give you clarity.

Today if I had the opportunity to go fishing with my grandpa, I would jump at it, but I would ask if we could worship together first. I would also ask him to tell me about how God called him. Oh the stories I would hear.

What is your call?             Amen

Pastoral Prayer and Lord’s Prayer

Lord Jesus, the one and only Christ, you called many people from many walks of life –
To leave their own ways and follow you; to be your disciples; and to prize people as something to seek, find and restore.

Lord Jesus, the one true leader of every church, we choose to stand as one church – your church – and to lift our focus from our differences and divides. We will leave our own ways and follow you together;
We will support each other as we seek to be your disciples; and we will work together to focus on fishing once more.

For we must act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly together before you – and each other.
For the sake of our worship of you, our love for each other, and the future and freedom of all those still living in poverty.

Lord Jesus, we ask for your Spirit’s help with this for we are quick to focus on ourselves, our labels, and our differences rather than the same nets in our hands, and the same leader before us.
Christ have mercy – in your precious name which unites us all.

For we ask this in Jesus’ Name who taught us to pray as one.

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses,

As we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen

Hymn   UMH #396 (verse 1)                        O Jesus, I Have promised                             


We worship a generous God whose son Jesus was both a gift and great giver.
As followers of Jesus we find our deepest joy in giving, and that’s why we gratefully give this offering.

Prayer of Dedication

May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts and the giving of this offering all show our thankfulness to you, O God our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen

HYMN TFWS # 2130 (verse 5)     The Summons


As you go out into the world
Follow me
At home with your household
Follow me
At school and work
Follow me
In everything you do this week
Follow me
And as you do, remember that I am with you always,
even to the end of the world.


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