Our January 24 Sunday worship service is available on video through Facebook. You may view it without being a member of Facebook. All scheduled worship services until further notice will be online only with minimal in-person participation to reduce COVID-19 risks.
The January 31 Sunday worship service will be held without in-person attendance because of the rise in COVID-19 cases in our state. It is scheduled to be streamed live on the DeSoto Redeemer Facebook page. We will post a direct link to the recording here as soon as it is possible after the service.
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January 24 Sermon
Jonah 3:1-5, 10 | Psalm 62:6-14
Corinthians 7:29-31 | Mark 1:14-20
More call narrative stories today: But, I really don’t know why they coupled the Jonah story with today’s Gospel. They are really very different. Simon Peter and Andrew we are told immediately upon hearing Jesus’ invitation, jump out of the boat and begin following Jesus. James and John not only jump out of the boat that they are in, but leave poor old dad, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired help. To them, the call from God is immediate and irresistible.
Jonah would, today, appear to have done the same thing, but he didn’t. The OT lesson today comes from the 3rd Chapter of Jonah, not the beginning. If we had the 1st Chapter, we would know that Jonah was more of a reluctant and resistant prophet. He resisted God’s call, somehow. Jonah didn’t want to go. But, God had to convince him. And so, God decided that he would have to do it the hard way. If you look at Jonah 3, you will see that it says that the “Word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time.” This is the second time that God had called to Jonah. That is by itself a difference. He tried to get out of it the first time. He didn’t want to do it. God wanted Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach to the people for them to repent. Jonah, on the other hand, wanted the people of Nineveh to be punished. He didn’t like the Ninevites. Unlike the four Apostles in the Gospel text today, Jonah didn’t jump out of the boat, he jumped into one. Later he will jump out of that boat and into the mouth of a “great fish,” (there has often been said that there is a parallel between Jonah spending three days in the belly of the whale, and Jesus spending three days in the tomb. That may be the connection between the Gospel lesson and Jonah.). The great fish will deposit him at the shores of Nineveh, where God wanted Jonah in the first place. The lesson, when God wants you somewhere, you will be going there, one way or another! And this time, after three days in the belly of the beast, Jonah was willing to do what God asked, even if Jonah didn’t do it very enthusiastically. I’ll talk about that some other time.
Now, many of us like to think that we are more like the four disciples we have before us today, and look down our noses and laugh at poor Jonah. But, the truth be told, we are probably more like Jonah than we would like to admit. You see most of us really don’t want to do what God would have us to do. The reason why is simple, we have sin. Sin has given us a fun quality, namely, we cannot, not sin. It just sort of happens. Sin is self-reproducing. Sin is something which we all have to contend with. It has become a part of us. It influences how we think, what we do, and how we react to what God wants us to do. Jonah was no exception.
But, let us compare that with Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John. Jesus calls to them, and they quite simply drop everything and follow. They don’t even say anything which has been recorded. They just follow. They don’t try to bargain with God, or even lie to him, like Jonah did. “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” That is all, well, not quite. I believe that meeting Jesus, God Incarnate, literally, “God in the flesh” has an effect. Jesus’ call is irresistible. When confronted by God Incarnate, there would appear that there is no choice, but to follow. This may also show us that Jesus, God Incarnate, is more relatable to human beings, more personable, harder to resist.
This is the same call which we too have received. And, like Jonah, I’ve learned that God has a way of putting you in exactly the place you are supposed to be when He wants you there (psychologists often refer to that as “synchronicity” – but they tend to leave God out of the quotient). When God calls, don’t fight it, you are going to end up going anyway, one way or another. If God really wants you there, enjoy the journey.
The Holy Spirit guides us. First we are guided to Christ, guided from our baptism on. The Holy Spirit strengthens us in faith, and directs our lives, to do what God has called us to do. And we are all called to do what God calls for. So we are all called to jump up and get out of the boat, to follow where Christ leads. God has some things for us to do, has empowered us for those tasks in faith, and will guide us in their doing. Follow Christ, and get ready, he has some work for us to do in this world which sorely needs to follow where he leads, even in this time of global crisis.