Tag Archives: vocation

Let’s Finish Mending the Nets—It’s Time to Go Fishing!

By the Rev. Darren Miner

Bible Readings

Last week, we heard the story of Jesus’ call to Philip and Nathanael, as recounted in the Gospel of John. This week we get yet another story of a call to ministry, this time from Mark’s Gospel. It takes place immediately following Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness being tested by Satan. The news of John the Baptist’s arrest signals the end of Jesus’ testing and the beginning of his active ministry in the world. And so, he leaves the wilderness behind and heads for the Sea of Galilee.

The message that he proclaims at first is one of repentance: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” Nowadays, after having heard so many hypocritical televangelists tell us that we need to repent of our sins, we have a hard time hearing Jesus’ message of repentance with fresh ears. And so we get it wrong. We take the word “repent” to mean “to be sorry for our sins.” But that’s not the core meaning of the original Greek term. A more literal translation is “to change one’s way of thinking.” In other words, Jesus was telling those who were willing to listen that the world was on the brink of a radical transformation and they would need to change their outlook. Yes, this would undoubtedly have included being sorry for one’s sins. But the call to change one’s way of thinking includes so much more than that.

Next, we are told, Jesus begins to call a group of disciples to help him in his work, starting with the two brothers Simon Peter and Andrew. Jesus calls these fishermen to follow him and become fishers of people. And they do just that—without a moment’s hesitation! They abandon their livelihood and their families to accept the invitation of this itinerant rabbi. Likewise, the brothers James and John drop what they are doing to follow Jesus. Now, Jesus must have been an incredibly charismatic man and his invitation to join him must have been incredibly persuasive. Even so, these fishermen displayed tremendous courage, and we should give them due credit.

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God Calls, We Respond

By the Rev. Darren Miner

Bible Readings

In today’s readings, we get a kind of biblical sandwich: two stories of God’s call to ministry with a teaching about sexual morality stuck in the middle. The focus of this sermon will be on God’s call and our response, so let me deal with St. Paul’s teaching on sexual morality right up front.

Paul is writing to the church in Corinth. They have got it into their heads that, since they are saved, nothing they do here in the material world is of ultimate importance. Consequently, a fringe group in the church has begun to advocate the abandonment of sexual morality. They argue that nothing that they do with their bodies affects their souls. St. Paul thinks otherwise. In short, his teaching is that what we do here in the material world does indeed make a difference.

Now, let’s look at the stories of God’s call to serve. In the story from the Old Testament, we hear about the calling of Samuel to be a prophet. The boy Samuel hears God calling him in the night. Three times, he hears the call, but each time he mistakes it for his master Eli. It is the priest Eli who eventually recognizes the call for what it is and instructs the boy how to respond appropriately: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” Samuel does as his master bids him, and the rest is history!

What strikes me in this story is how the discernment of Samuel’s call took place. Samuel was unable to figure out the meaning of his call on his own. He didn’t know how to respond appropriately. It took some consultation to make that clear. Often, I think, that is the case when God calls us to his service. We need others to help us understand what is being asked of us.

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Je suis Philippe

By the Rev. Darren Miner

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.

In today’s readings from the lectionary, we get a sort of biblical sandwich. The slices of bread are the Old Testament reading and the Gospel, both about being called to God’s service, while the sandwich spread is the reading from 1 Corinthians.

Now, this sandwich spread is a bit too salty to be truly tasty, but it does have nutritional value. So let me say a word or two about St. Paul’s letter before moving on to the more palatable topics in the other two readings. Paul is writing to the church in Corinth. They have got it into their heads that, since they are saved, nothing they do here in the material world really is of ultimate importance. Consequently, the more “advanced” thinkers in the bunch have begun to advocate the complete abandonment of sexual morality. They argue that nothing that they do with their bodies affects their souls. St. Paul thinks otherwise. Now, we may not agree with all Paul’s teachings about gender and sex, but even so, we should pay attention to the theology that underlies today’s reading. The essential idea is that our material bodies are holy, just as the Temple in Jerusalem was holy. And if, as we are taught, we are mystically united with Christ through Baptism, then what we do with our bodies is of ultimate importance. More generally, what we do here in this fallen material world does make a difference, whether for good or for ill.

And now for the sliced bread in today’s biblical sandwich! And the bread is all about God’s call to us, our vocation. In the story from the Hebrew Scriptures, we hear about the calling of Samuel to be a prophet. Recall that Samuel had been dedicated by his mother Hannah to serve in the Temple, in gratitude for his miraculous birth. Today’s story tells how the young boy hears God calling him in the night. Three times, he hears the call, but each time he mistakes it for his master Eli. It is the priest Eli who eventually recognizes the call for what it is and instructs the boy how to respond appropriately: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” Samuel does as his master bids him, and the rest is history!

Eli_and_SamuelWhat strikes me in this story is how the discernment of Samuel’s call took place. Samuel was unable to figure out the meaning of his call on his own. He didn’t know how to respond. It took some consultation to make that clear. This community needs to be listening for that call in the night, especially as Fr. David’s retirement draws near. This community needs to discover what God is calling us to do, what God is calling us to be, in new and changed circumstances. And like Samuel, we are going to need all the help we can get to discern that call. Now, Samuel had his master Eli. We have one another, and we have our bishop. There may be some reluctance to draw the bishop into this process of discernment. But in all honesty, we have no choice; the bishop will have his say. So it would behoove us to invite the bishop’s participation in our discernment process sooner, rather than later, praying that our bishop will display the wisdom of Samuel’s master, Eli.

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