And They Followed

And They Followed

A sermon for the Third Sunday after the Epiphany in Year B. Texts: Jonah 3:1-5, 10; Psalm 62:5-12; and Mark 1:14-20.  We are having equipment issues that are currently preventing us from posting a recording of the sermon. We hope to have these issues cleared up soon. 

Title: Embracing the Wesleyan Spirit: Following Jesus in Faith and Action

The timeless melody of “I Will Follow Him” echoes through the years, evoking memories of a young Peggy March and a spirited performance by Sister Mary Clarence in the movie Sister Act. As we delve into the Gospel lesson for the 3rd Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B, we explore the calling of the first disciples from the perspective of Mark’s Gospel. The fishermen, Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John, respond immediately to Jesus’ simple yet profound invitation: “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” In this sermon, we’ll approach this call to discipleship through a Wesleyan lens, exploring the themes of faith, obedience, and the transformative power of following Jesus.

Following Jesus: A Radical Response
The Gospel narrative presents a radical response from the fishermen – an immediate and unquestioning decision to leave behind their known lives and follow Jesus. This radical call challenges us to reflect on our own understanding of faith and our willingness to follow where Jesus leads. The Wesleyan tradition, rooted in the teachings of John Wesley, emphasizes a dynamic and transformative faith that involves both personal piety and social responsibility.

Understanding the Metaphor:
While some interpret the “fishing” metaphor as a representation of evangelism, it is crucial to consider the broader context of Jesus inviting individuals to join Him in God’s work. The sermon suggests that Jesus approached the fishermen based on their passions, experiences, and livelihoods. Applying a Wesleyan approach, we can appreciate the diversity of gifts and vocations within the body of Christ, each contributing to the kingdom of God in unique ways.

Initiative of Jesus:
In Mark’s account, Jesus takes the initiative – a departure from the traditional relationship between Rabbis and students. This reversal of roles challenges our preconceptions about seeking God. The sermon encourages us to recognize moments when Jesus unexpectedly calls us to follow Him and to be open to His leading, even when we don’t fully comprehend the destination.

Faith in Action:
The narrative underscores a profound faith demonstrated by the fishermen. Without knowing Jesus’ identity, witnessing miracles, or hearing teachings, they respond with unwavering trust. The sermon delves into the challenge of embodying this kind of faith today. It questions whether our adherence to worldly schedules, pride, self-importance, or personal agendas impedes our ability to respond to Jesus’ call.

Learning from Jonah’s Story:
Drawing parallels with the story of Jonah, the sermon explores the consequences of resisting God’s call. It urges listeners to reflect on moments when personal desires clash with God’s will and how such resistance can hinder the transformative work God intends.

The Church’s Mission:
The sermon emphasizes the primary purpose of the church – to provide a space where people encounter the living God and build a relationship with Him. It critiques internal conflicts within the church, suggesting that such conflicts divert attention from the mission of spreading the Gospel.

As the sermon concludes, it reaffirms that following Jesus is a challenging yet essential task. It calls for placing God above everything else, submitting to God’s will, and actively engaging in acts of compassion and justice. Ultimately, the sermon echoes the call to follow Jesus, embracing the Wesleyan spirit and striving to love God and neighbors in ways that glorify God and transform lives.