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Epiphany 3 Matthew 4:12-23 January 26, 2020
As I read the scriptures given for this third Sunday after the Epiphany, I wondered if there was something here that would also be appropriate for our Annual Meeting. And then it hit me, there it is: "As Jesus walked by the sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea--for they were fishermen. And He said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fish for people." Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.
Is that a coincidence? Andrew is called to be a disciple of Jesus on the day of Saint Andrew's Church annual meeting. Andrew is our Patron Saint. This jumps out at me because we have been talking about patron saints on Wednesdays at Morning Prayer.
On Wednesday we talked about Agnes, the patron saint for January 21st. A beautiful 13 year old girl who dedicated her life to the Lord Jesus Christ. When Procop the son of the Emperor wanted to marry her, she refused, so they cut her head off with a sword.
She committed her life to the Lord 100% at the age of 13. As my patron saint, by comparison, a little retarded, it took 41 years.
Patron saints are not intermediaries between us and our Lord. But there is something special about each one who is called a saint that is worth emulating.
Churches and many other organizations take on the name of a saint as a sign of protection or focus for ministry. Over 250 years ago the founding members of this church gathered and decided that the Patron of this new parish would be Saint Andrew.
I know that you long time members of this parish know a lot about Andrew and want to live up to his standard of faith. I am just learning about him. The scriptures tell me that the first thing that Andrew did when he became a follower of Jesus was to tell his brother about him.
So, Andrews is the very first evangelist. He told one person, his brother Peter, who went out and told 3000 people. And the church began to grow.
So, for me, Agnes and Andrew present demanding concepts for me to follow. The compel me to consider my spiritual priorities. I must discern and decide what is important to me--what will I be looking for, what am I going to listen to, what will I value most in our common life together?
These are questions that require and charge us to consider our past. And these are questions that lead us to a full, honest, and accurate assessment of our current situation. But mostly, these are questions that inspire us to look to our future.
What is important is that the kingdom of heaven has come near. Jesus lived among us, not to predict some future utopia, but to proclaim that God's mercy, justice, and love are already here. So close we can touch, taste, smell, see and hear--if that is what we are listening for.
We can make a choice whether to dwell on life's problems or to look for life's opportunities. Are we going to wrestle with t he devil, or dance with the savior? Taste and see, for our God is gracious--and God's kingdom has drawn near. So, look around for signs of the kingdom, here and now.
As we look to our future: Jesus says "Follow me, and I will make you fish for people." We are called--each and every one of us, and all of us together--to bring the light of lights into the world, to proclaim to all people the Good News of salvation, to make known the glory of God's marvelous works.
Our calling as a Christian community is not to repair the roof, or balance the books, or print up the bulletin. Oh, these things are important--essential to the building up of Christ's body.
But budgets and reports and achievements--they are not our mission, they are not what Jesus calls us to listen to, they are not what our Lord and Savior commands us to value. When we follow, Jesus makes us fishers of men, ambassadors of Christ, evangelists.
Will the copy machine repair itself if we simply pray? -- probably not. We need to attend to these things, to be sure. But if we work toward forgiveness, if we seek agreement, if we continue to pray--then what will shine will be the very light of salvation, the sure and certain hope of everlasting life, the gifts of God for the people of God.
Pray simply, repenting of your past mistakes. Pray simply, proclaiming that the kingdom of God has drawn near. Pray simply, "Yes, Lord, we will follow you."
Look for the signs of the Kingdom around us. And follow Jesus. For God's grace does invite us, and God's love shall unite us--to work for the kingdom and answer our call.