“The Moment is Ripe”

25 January 2015

Mark 1:14-20

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, pastor

West Walworth: Zion & East Rochester United Methodist Churches

 

Mark 1:14-20

 

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

 

Prayer.

 

God does the calling.

It isn't about us,

you or me,

(though, to tell the truth,

we would like it to be

all about selfish-me.)

It is by God's initiative

and by God's initiative alone

that we are named

that we are invited

to the table

to join

in relationship

- give and take -

in a relationship

between our Creator

and ourselves.

 

God takes the bold stand

to claim us for His very own

whether we like it or not.

This isn’t a buyer’s market.

Questions of motive or means

are unknowable

without Divine revelation,

without God showing you his hand.

So don't beat yourself up

with questions.

If answers come,

simply respond with thanks.

We only know what we've experienced.

We only know the knock

when God is standing

at our door.

The time is ripe.

The time is now.

 

God establishes the standards.

Expectations are low.

The likelihood of success is high.

Failure is not remembered in God's kingdom.

The depths of hell

are filled in and paved over

with one simple utterance of repentance.

The trouble wrought by the Devil himself

is wholly righted

simply by the majesty and power

of a forgiving and loving God

who sent his Son to die for our sins.

 

God calls the ordinary

the plain and simple;

fisherman and farmer,

merchant and trader

soldier and sailor

the widowed and the divorced

blue collar, white collar,

and every type of collar in-between.

God calls the sinner

and the saint alike.

God calls the best and the brightest

and the least and the dull.

If God can call the least of these,

- If God can call someone as foul as me -

then I assure you

God can call you, too.

In fact,

the mere fact

that you are here

(that you are reading this)

is proof positive

that God is calling

your name

the same way Simon and Andrew

James and John were called.

Follow me.

Follow me.

 

“Not worthy?”

Please.

Save your protests

save your whining

for some imbecile

who might be suckered in

by such insincerity.

It does not say anyplace in my Bible

that God reviews past work experience

that Jesus asked to see a resume or vitale

of anyone chosen or claimed

for His discipleship.

No psychological testing.

No background checks.

No physicals to pass.

You are worthy

just the way you are.

You are worthy

no matter where you've been

or what you've done.

You are worthy

so, as my doctor told me years ago,

“it's time to grow up.”

Stop behaving like a child.

Stand up like a man or a woman

and take the authority

God has already given to you.

 

God provides

all the necessary talent, education, and tools.

There is a reason you can do some things well.

There is a Divine reason you can do some things well.

It's because God has already been at work in your life

making plans and preparations

from the time when you were in the womb

your foundation has been under construction.

A strong back

a sharp mind

an artistic touch

an inventor's creativity

are each equally important

gifts from a loving

heavenly Father.

 

Do you think

doors have magically opened for you

throughout your life?

Open your eyes!

Wake up and smell the coffee!

God has been opening doors for you

all your life.

God has brought teachers and mentors

into your life and mine

to help us develop the skills necessary

for successful discipleship.

This education comes at the incredibly low price:

Just as you have freely answered the call to follow Christ

Turn to the next generation

And invite them to follow Christ, too.

All that you have been taught and learned

Pass it on.

Give it away.

Give it all away.

 

Whether your tool of choice

is a pipe wrench or a computer

a trowel or a plow truck

a hammer or a stethoscope

a pen or a badge

God has provided every tool you'll ever need.

God has provided everything

in the past

in the present,

and will continue to provide for your every need

in the time that is yet to come.

 

We’ve been given

One common tool.

Into everyone's toolbox

is given the Bible.

The written Word of God,

sacred in every way.

Though often overlooked

and ignored

the Bible is the best all-around tool available.

Use it.

Use it liberally.

Use it’s Gospels like a road map.

Use it as your guide to life.

 

Understanding is not required.

Complete comprehension is not expected.

I don't understand it all,

ordained as I am,

and trusted with the keys to the kingdom.

If the preacher doesn't understand it all,

how could anyone else?

Fact is

faith isn't based on insider knowledge.

Faith isn't based on certainty.

Faith is based on watching

and passing on

what has been observed.

Faith is like a flowing river

That is taking us ever closer to the heart of God.

Accept the fact that

with God there is always that which is mystery.

With God there is always the unknown.

 

Good works result from faith.

Jesus and his apostle, Paul,

both knew that we would forever get this fact backwards.

Faith is not the by-product of good works.

You can't earn your way to heaven.

People do good

by God and by neighbor

when it is faith doing the talking.

 

God makes it possible

To introduce people to Christ

And grow deep His followers.

Whatever we need;

It’s been given.

If it seems we need more,

Ask, and it will be provided.

If it isn’t provided

God probably didn’t believe we needed it.

Keep our eyes on Jesus

And everything else takes care of itself.

 

Answering the call

is not about being a preacher.

Answering the call

is about following Jesus.

Answering the call

Is about serving where ever God plants you.

All that is required from us

is the ability to say “yes,”

“here I am.”

“I will go where you send me.”

“I will do what you want me to do.”

 

God's time is fulfilled

the moment acceptance comes,

the moment we submit

our will

to the will of Christ.

 

The appointed time has grown short.

The present form of this world is passing away.

Answer the call.

Fish for followers.

The moment is ripe.

The moment is now.

 

Be assured,

belief comes in time.

Likewise, be assured,

belief never becomes complete.

Questions will always remain.

Tomorrow will yield a new dawn

a new day

fraught with temptations, trials, and snares.

Even still,

tomorrow will yield a better day

simply because

we have decided to answer His call

to drop our nets

and to follow Him.

 

Dearly beloved,

these are the words

God has impressed upon my heart.

Amen.