Remembering and Responding to a Challenging Call

by | Nov 26, 2018

Mark 1:14-20

Calling of Andrew,  Simon, James and John

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My Uncle was born on the 11th November, each year on remembrance day there would be a parade with a marching band leading the way to the local war memorial. The high street had bunting and flags up to mark remembrance. As a small boy, celebrating his birthday, he thought it was all for him. A reasonable assumption to make. Of course, what we are doing on remembrance Sunday is not celebrating. The act of remembering and commemorating is significantly different. We are honouring those soldiers and civilians who died, and we are taking upon ourselves to do better, to avoid ever repeating the events which led to such devastating events as the first World War.

Of course it is easy to fail to learn lessons. Sometimes the most blatant of instructions are the most difficult to follow. Anybody who gets ahead of themselves unpacking Ikea furniture knows that it can be too easy to miss an essential step in the process and end up with the final piece not fitting, or an edge facing the wrong way.

100 years of remembering. 100 years after the end of the War to end all wars and yet there is still war, there are still families whose lives are destroyed, refugees fleeing wars, domestic and international. We still divide ourselves based on tribes. We still, as nations and as individuals, posture and position ourselves
to feed our own pride and ego.

The story of Jonah is ironic. Jonah is called by God and told to go and tell Ninevah, a city full of people who are failing to live a good life. They are ignoring God’s law, God’s instruction. So what does Jonah do – he runs away because he fears what they will do with him if he bring’s them God’s message. After an incident with a whale Jonah is eventually washed up on shore and listens to God. Finally he does what God tells him to do, having failed numerous times and God’s faithfulness in him meaning that God does not give up on him. So Jonah proclaims that God will punish Ninevah, the people stop and say sorry, and God forgives them. No matter how many times the people of Ninevah have failed live a good life, no matter how many times Jonah tries to ignore God’s call
God continues to call Jonah back to do what he is meant to do. Of course Jonah goes on to bemoan that he did all this and still God didn’t punish the people of Ninevah. But how much better that God spared them.
That God’s infinite grace was enough to forgive them and provide them with another chance.

In today’s Gospel Jesus turns up in Galilee, proclaiming that the time has come for the Kingdom of God to come near. Calling on people to repent, to turn away from their wrong doing and believe in the Good News. He calls four of the disciples, all fishermen, all of whom, no doubt to everybody’s surprise, put down their nets, leave their companions and follow Jesus.

The call that the young men and women who have been called on to fight in two world wars was not an easy one. Many, both civilians and service men and women, sacrificed their own lives. To serve others, to protect, to defend and to give hope, even when it seemed like their was none. Today many people have sacrificed their own lives, their own health, to give their children better hope for a future in places without war.

We too are called on to respond to God’s call to live our lives in such a way, to represent ourselves, to act, to vote, to participate in public life in such a way as to stop injustice, to defend those who are defenceless, who are alone, who are hungry, who are scared. And in every generation we will fail to meet the grade, we will despair to think that we didn’t do enough.

Jesus’ call to Andrew, Simon, James and John must have been absolutely bizarre, completely out of left field. In a way Jesus call to us to follow him is still bizarre. It does involve, in many ways, giving up on our own ego, or on a sense of being better than others.
It challenges us to find ways to make peace and to challenge injustice. For some of us it can be a  challenge to our relationships with friends and family.
But as bizarre as it might be, it is also compelling.

Our calling from Christ demands that we must keep listening and watching for God, and turning away from our mistakes, learning from them and trying to follow God in all ways of righteousness, because God’s Kingdom has come near and there is always hope for a better future. As we honour those who have died in war, as we remember the horrors of war past and present, let us also rededicate ourselves, as God’s children to do so by finding ways to make the Good News which Christ proclaimed, by doing God’s will, by following him, by loving justice and peace, and seeking to make the world we live in a place where the Kingdom has clearly come near.

The Reverend Robin Sims-Williams

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8.00am Said Eucharist in the lady chapel
10.00am Parish Eucharist with choir and Sunday School

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Said Eucharist on Wednesdays at 11.00am
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