Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dropping Nets

Mark 1: 14-20
None of us really like life-altering change, but whether we like it or not, change happens in our lives.  Sometimes it happens unexpectedly and sometimes with fair warning.  But when it does we can ‘go with the flow’ and adjust and embrace it or we can fight it tooth and nail.  The fishermen in our Gospel today embraced it fully and in doing so began a whole new life.

Hear now the gospel of Mark the first chapter…

After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee and told the good news that comes from God. He said, "The time has come! God's kingdom will soon be here.  Turn back to God and believe the good news!"

 As Jesus was walking along the shore of Lake Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew. They were fishermen and were casting their nets into the lake. Jesus said to them, "Come with me! I will teach you how to bring in people instead of fish." Right then the two brothers dropped their nets and went with him.

 Jesus walked on and soon saw James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They were in a boat, mending their nets. At once Jesus asked them to come with him. They left their father in the boat with the hired workers and went with him.

Few of us probably remember fully the era of silent films.  If some of you do you were probably just babes in arms with a goo-goo and gah-gah vocabulary that can hardly be classified as intelligible speech.  When a friend asked if I wanted to go to the movies last week and see ‘The Artist’ I jumped at the chance because I don’t know much about this bygone era but black and white photography always is seductively artistic to me.  For those of you who have not heard about this movie, it is a silent movie but not an authentic one, a love story and a movie about silent movies.

George Valentin, is a well known silent screen actor.  But times were changing as the large motion picture studios were transitioning from silent films to talkies.  George had a real hard time with it as he watched his career drain down the tubes because he was too proud to give up his silent film acting career to a more advanced form of acting with sound.  He was either too proud or too stubborn or too afraid to let go of the old and embrace the new.

From what I understand it was not only this fictional character’s issue but there were many silent film actors who could not, would not make the change from silent films to the talkies.  It would be hard to just drop what you were doing, what you knew so well and start something new.  The old ways worked just fine, no need to try another way of thinking and doing.  I sort of feel like that with my ‘fat back’ tv as my kids would say.  I know that I would enjoy a whole new world of television viewing if I bought a flat screen HDTV.  But another part of says, why bother, this one works just fine for my limited television watching.

We are creatures of habit and like to cling to what we know.  Who knows why, stability, comfort, maybe even fear of the unknown.  One thing is for sure though, we cannot add something new or different into our lives unless we let go of something old.

That’s what we see with the very first disciples who were called into service by Jesus.  The book of Mark begins abruptly.  No sweet lyllabyes, no manger scene just a locust eating, camel hair clad man named John.  Funny how he is remembered more for his lack of fashion sensibilities rather than the way in which he prepared people for the coming of the Messiah.

Then we see Jesus, whisked away into the desert wilderness to be tempted by ha-satan, satan.  After overcoming evil and temptation he emerges victorious with a new vision of what the Kingdom of God is like, what it entails.  Repent, turn your life around, right now, the kingdom of God is here and you all are a part of it.  This is his message and he needs others to help him spread this good news.

Immediately, and there is a lot of immediacy in the gospel of Mark, immediately Jesus seeks out two fishermen, Simon and Andrews.  He calls to them on the shore of the Galilee.  “Hey, follow me, and you can fish and get even better fish with me”.  And IMMEDIATELY, they drop their nets and follow him as does James and John, Zebedee’s son.

They couldn’t follow if they clung tightly to their nets.  It’s a matter of tightly clenched fists as opposed to fully open hands.  It’s a matter of acting out……mimic silently……or stepping up to the microphone to speak.

Change is an inevitable characteristic of life.  Once accepted you can begin to envision other ways of doing things, new opportunities that were not available to you before.  Jesus called out to the disciples and they followed – and we are still talking about them!  Simon Peter became the rock upon whom our church is built today.

Ours is a church in transition, globally the church is changing.  We can no longer ‘self-populate’ because our children are seeking their fortunes outside of the community that they were raised in…because they can and that’s good.  So we need to develop other ways of being the church and telling Jesus’ story of salvation.  We need to change and adapt – not that the old was bad, it was not.  Not that we need to throw out the baby with the bathwater, we do not.  Parts of it just don’t relate to a changing global reality of technology and how people want to experience God’s amazing spirit. 

What are the nets the WCC clings onto tightly?  What anchors you so deeply out at sea that you cannot move about and explore the horizons of God leading you to a new destination?  This is the time to look at the nets that are gripped by your hands and see what needs to change.

I’ll be looking at three questions with you at the forums the first three weeks in February.  It’s your time to discover, dream and design.
1)          What’s your story and how do you feel about it?
2)          What do you hope for and what is your sense of the future?
3)          What kind of leadership do you need to get you there?
Simple!  By looking at these questions you will have an opportunity to envision a future to
advance the kingdom of God on earth.  You will have a chance to look honestly at yourselves, the good and not so good.  That’s what you need in order to loosen the grip upon your nets.  Part of my job is to hold up a mirror and let you look.  The other part is to love you wholly and guide you to Jesus.

George, the silent movie star finally did utter two words at the end of the film.  “Wiz Pleashur”.  At that moment you knew his fear.  But he overcame it and danced happily into his future in the talkies.  So can you.

Release your grip.
Drop your nets.
Follow Jesus.


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