A sermon for Christ Church Healey focusing on their MAP process
What was your favourite job before Jesus brought you here? My favourite job was seeking out and finding all the dandelions that had invaded my grandads garden. That was my job when I came to stay with them. I had my own gardening gloves, a trowel, and bucket to collect them in. I receive thorough training from my grandad and he was always happy when I produced a good crop of them especially the big ones!
Today after hearing the calling of five of Jesus disciples we are thinking about what skills and gifts did Jesus know we had before we even realised it? And how does being good at plucking up dandelions or having any other job paid or unpaid relate to the kingdom of God?
What I love about the readings today, is that when Jesus calls Matthew, Simon, Andrew, James, and John they were all working in normal everyday jobs. Simon, Andrew, James and John were fishermen, to be a fisherman you had to be strong, patient, tactful, be able to interpret the weather and the waters, they also had to be committed, confident, be able to work as part of a team, and loyal. When we look at the skills that it takes to be a fisherman we can see why Jesus thought that these men would be excellent for the work that He was calling them to do, to be fishers of men.
What fascinates me about the call of James and John is that when Jesus calls they drop the nets that they have patiently been mending. Now I’m no an expert at mending nets, or even knowing what it takes to carry out this activity but I know that it certainly wouldn’t be easy and it was one of those jobs that was part of the daily routine that had to be done. No effective nets equalled no catch of fish. So the act of them just dropping their nets and leaving their Father was a big event.
It made me think about the nets that we might be patiently mending, some of things that we have tried to fix over and over again that have given us sore fingers and a sense of mundanity. I wonder what things we are trying to hold onto that Jesus is calmly asking us to put down and folllow His plans.
You see putting down the nets is a sign of something new. The fishermen had learnt their skills probably from their Father, skills that were important and Jesus in their calling acknowledges these but also says it’s time to move on and try things His way.
I can’t imagine the look on James and John’s Fathers face as they left their unfinished work and left Him in the boat. Was this a foreshadowing to the reality of their work as disciples that the work will never be finished, also leaving their Father in the boat that the idea of family was now much more fluid that just those who were related by blood, that their future family were those who were living in the Spirit, in Christ answering to their spiritual Father.
As we know in the church there is always work to be done, but what are our nets can we put down to follow Jesus’s call, what relationships/friendships are we holding onto that maybe need more fluidity where we start to live the reality of us all being brothers and sisters in Christ.
What is encouraging from the stories of the callings today is that Jesus is saying that all our past experiences in work are useful to His mission. So that Saturday job in a cafe when you were a teen, Jesus sees this and knows this is useful, that part time job in the supermarket is useful to serving the kingdom of God, the years that were spent caring for a relative or a close family member, Jesus knows you are pastorally gifted.
None of our life experiences are wasted. Myself I have twelve years of working at Sainsbury’s under my belt that have certainly come into use during my training.
Also what is encouraging is none of these jobs of the disciples that are mentioned today were high flying prestige jobs, they were everyday jobs and that is good news for us, that where we work or even if we don’t work anymore Jesus recognises the worth of the person inside, worth is not calculated from the amount of hours that are worked, how much someone earns, or even if they have a job, in Jesus eyes He has the job for us and that is being part of His mission for the world.
Jesus tackles this notion of having to hang around with people who seem to be decent or have the right credentials. He succinctly reminds the Pharisees that He has come to save sinners and that is where He will be, not rubbing noses with the elite or those who deem themselves to be better than others. Jesus reminds us that church is a place for sinners, a place where we follow His call to come and follow Him, to be shaped, renewed, healed, and nurtured by the Holy Spirit to do the Fathers will.
As you continue your journey is thinking about the MAP process and what the vision of both churches may look like, remember that perfection is not what Jesus is looking for, He is looking at what you all have to offer and then blessing those gifts and transforming them into something amazing. Just like the little boy who offered his bread and fishes to Jesus to feed the five thousand, this small offering was transformed into a an outpouring of food that left all satisfied. And don’t forget afterwards the crumbs were collected and nothing was wasted. Every crumb that you can offer is and can be transformed by Jesus into feeding thousands.
I pray for all of you today that the Holy Spirit May come afresh and show you all the skills that you have gathered through your lives, and maybe that if something is illuminated by the spirit, offer that at your meeting.
Jesus called His disciples to be hands on, fishers of people, collectors of sinners, what nets could be left as you all move into this new phase of your life and mission at Healey.
Jesus says come follow me.
Let us drop our nets and walk into this new journey together.