Sunday, January 14, 2018

When You Are Called - John 1

When You Are Called
Tony E Dillon-Hansen
14 January 2018

A Sermon based upon 1 Corinthians 6: 12-20; Psalm 139; John 1: 43-51

Will you pray with me?  May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our Rock, Our Redeemer.

This weekend, we celebrate the honor and work of Martin Luther King, Jr to bring justice and equality to American minorities.
While MLK helped to provide generations with hope,
we know the cost of the struggle is real and continues today.

The struggle for equality is beckoned today by the people in
the Black Lives Matter movement,
Also those fighting for LGBT equality,
and Gender equality to name just a few.
Clearly, the struggle is not done.

Martin Luther King Jr found a great source of inspiration
in the work and life of Jesus
because Jesus spoke truth to power
and made room for anyone
no matter where they were (or are) on life’s journey.

When are you called ?

No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey,
you may be called.

What are you called to do?

Are you called to serve,
are you called to bring hope,
to have hope .
With all of those issues facing you
 (like health, nightly news these days, memory),
are you called to have courage?
Are you called to welcome brothers and sisters with open arms?
Are you called to witness and to be a part of God’s kingdom?
Does that make you uncomfortable?

When MLK was called,
he not only responded, but responded with courage.
MLK faced tremendous obstacles and threats as he spoke out and traveled.
MLK rose from poverty and discrimination and faced endless threats of life.
He raised the issues of race, poverty and war facing our country.
Then, he was murdered by people that were afraid of his message of freedom, hope and inclusion.

MLK’s story has so many parallels to Jesus story.

Just think in general terms.

Jesus’s story is powerful because the holy family endured the struggle of
pregnancy out of wedlock,
discrimination (remember no one had room for them at the inns),
the threat of death by tyrants,
and being refugees.
Jesus was constantly under threat by various elites for his message of freedom, hope and inclusion.

The work of Jesus consistently tells us that
“transformation takes precedence over tradition”
because Jesus would often flip tradition on its head
to expose the prejudices and injustice that was hiding underneath by people
including (and especially) by religious elders.

You can see this in the work of MLK as well.

Jesus does not waste time in criticizing the elites and poor use of traditions.  Before Jesus calls any followers,
he is already making waves with the fringes of society
By associating himself with another unruly person
that eats locusts and honey for meals
while baptizing people in the river Jordan.

So the moment we catch up with Jesus here in this lesson,
he has witnessed a lot already and his reputation is rising.

Thus, when a person of this reputation, that is challenging of elites, calls people into service,
 there has to be some question and hesitation.

What do you do? Would you have the courage to respond?

When Jesus calls upon the new disciples Nathaniel and Phillip,
they are obviously wondering about this reputation
that has been preceding the Nazorean.
They may be questioning the worth of the reputation,
and maybe,
 they are hoping this Jesus will “correct” some serious wrongs
by the oppressive Romans and corrupt elders of Israel.
Once Jesus calls them,
There is are no question
and they join this little band of wanderers.

They must have had some fear in this answer as Nathaniel
calls Jesus “King of Israel”
which in these times could be treasonous and deadly to do.
Yet, somehow, they believe in the message
and potential to do serious good through this “Rabbi.”

What have they got themselves into?
Now, They may be hunted as well
and the threat is going to get real soon.

What does it mean to you to be called?
Is there some random voice heard from afar- saying "follow me?"
Is it you observing distress and tyranny in society?
Were you feeling offended or hurt??
Is it you hearing a racist comment on TV and feeling hurt?
Is it when you hear goose-stepping boots dragging a neighbor out of their home?
Did you feel compassion or fear?
Is it when you child or spouse says I am hurt?

Is it when God is nudging you and your heart?
In all these ways
-- is when God is calling us.

What did you get yourselves into when you were baptized?

How have you responded and how will you continue to respond?

Are you called to serve and to be a part of God’s kingdom?
When Children of God such as these -- Nathaniel and Phillip
 (as well as the many disciples) were called,
they not only responded but responded with courage. Why?

When MLK (a child of God and a disciple) was called, he not only responded, but responded with courage. Why?

Because life matters and you matter.
We cannot let people or elites take away our dignity,
Our respect, our faith, our belief, or our lives.

You are a child of God with all your grace and failures.
You have been called in your baptism and called to witness.

When you are called, how do you respond?
Will you have courage to listen?
Will you have courage to have hope?
Will you have courage to learn?
Will you continue to learn?
Will you have courage to answer?

You have been invited by God to see many wonderful things.

Thanks Be to God!