Sermon for 3rd Sunday after the Epiphany


based on Mark 1:14-20

Sometimes it’s the small things you notice.

On Tuesday I woke up expecting to see a lot of snow on the ground – I ended up looking for the small pieces of sleet and snow that signaled danger

Or those small pieces of ice – that can trip you up if you aren’t careful.

Or small signs of life —  when I used to visit the desert in Arizona, it would look pretty barren – but if I looked closely I could tell it was really alive.

Sometimes it’s the small things you notice – that I notice – here – on Sunday morning – when we’re sharing the peace, or sharing communion, or visiting after the service.

A smile.  A word.  A Gesture.

Or in this passage of scripture from Mark – the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.

I’ve always focused on the obvious – the men were fishermen, and Jesus calls them by telling them that they will be “fishing for people” now.

And in using those words and that image – Jesus hooks them right away.

But today you know what I am noticing?  The word “immediately.”

Did you notice that word?  Jesus is at the very beginning of his ministry.

He has just been baptized and driven out to the wilderness.  (And by the way, the Spirit drove him out – immediately.)

And  afterwards he sees two fishermen and he calls them – and they follow him – immediately

That’s sort of incredible.

I mean, you can chalk it up to Jesus being the voice of authority.  If he calls you, you just have to go.

When I went to do a church service at the Denver City and County Jail once, the inmates all told said that it was no surprise – that they followed “immediately.”

Because – Jesus.

You can’t trust anyone else, but you can trust Jesus.

So — It’s a sign – a revelation – that when Jesus calls disciples, they follow “immediately.”  They can’t resist.

In the church, this season is called “Epiphany” – which is a word that means “Revelation.”

The word “epiphany” with a small “e” actually means a moment when the truth is revealed to you without you having to study or figure it out.

You just suddenly (for example) knew, just KNEW that 2 plus 2 really does equal four, or that that key in the middle of the piano is middle C, or that the thing that you touch with your hands and drink and wash with – that’s called water.

The disciples heard Jesus call their name and suddenly they just KNEW, without having to study it, that he was the one.  It was a revelation.

But what does it reveal?

The disciples know that Jesus is the one, they know he is the Messiah, but they don’t know much about him.  Yet.

They will learn more, and more will be revealed to them, but for now they have just heard him calling.

And they followed.  Immediately.

And for me this reveals three things.  It reveals something about the disciples – that they were waiting.

They were waiting for someone, for something, for the kingdom of God, the Messiah, someone they could follow.

They were waiting for someone who would teach them, and heal them, – but they were also waiting for someone who would make them teachers and healers.

They were waiting for something that God had promised to Israel – that God had promised to the world.

So they followed immediately.

But  “immediately” also reveals a sense of urgency – that this is not the time for delays.

This is a time for action.

This is a time for repentance, by which I mean, a time to turn around, go in a different direction, actually follow Jesus.

And as much as we might say, OF COURSE the disciples followed immediately, it’s not that easy, is it

So the other thing that this reveals is our – my – hesitation.

I want to ask, “Wait a minute?  Is it that really God calling?  I have a couple of things I have to do first that are important.”

Most of the time, following Jesus may not seem that urgent to us.  In fact, most of the time, the decisions we make may not seem that urgent – until the flood waters come up and you have to leave your home – or stay –

or until someone is in trouble and you have to help – or not

– or someone asks you (for example), “will you marry me?” and you have to answer yes – or not.

The Kingdom of God has drawn near – and do you want to be a part of it?   — Don’t take your time.

So, it’s a small thing, but the word immediately sticks out to me.    As being a part of the epiphany – a part of the revelation.

And you know what – it happens TWICE.

Twice that word “immediately” – when Jesus calls the second set of brothers, James and John – he calls them immediately.

Peter and Andrew didn’t hesitate.

But when Jesus gets to James and John, he doesn’t hesitate either.             He doesn’t ask for resumes.  He doesn’t have them do a personality test.

He doesn’t have a conversation with them first, so that he can find out if they are right for the job.

He calls them  — immediately.

If you ask me, this is even more incredible.

That Jesus does not hesitate – to call Peter and Andrew, James and John – and us.

And this – this reveals something too, something about Jesus, and something about us.

But what does it reveal?

What do you think?

God is not hesitating to call you – right where you are.

And not just (or even immediately) here, in church.

I just get to remind you about it on Sunday.

NO – he’s calling you while you are casting your nets into the sea, which is to say, he is calling to you while you are doing your daily work, while you are going to the grocery store with your kids,

while you are at the office, in the truck, meeting your neighbors, playing with children.

God is not hesitating to call you – immediately — to be a part of God’s reign of mercy and love and compassion

And what does it reveal?

Today Jesus is calling you  — and suddenly – suddenly – you know – without studying or having to figure it out – you just know – that despite everything – you are beloved and valuable –and worthy to bear the good news. You are God’s beloved child, and he is calling you without hesitation.

“Follow me,” he says to you – every single day.

And you know – sometimes it’s the small things that you notice.     The child who needs encouragement to follow her dream

The stranger who needs hope.  The family who needs a home.

The refugee who needs shelter.

            Every person who needs – the kingdom of God.  Right now.

Immediately he calls you.  Because he loves you.  Because he sees you.

Don’t take your time.  AMEN

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