3 Epiphany Year A 1/22/2023
Isaiah 9:1-4; Psalm 27:1, 5-13; 1 Corinthians 1:10-18; Matthew 4:12-23
Rev. Mark A. Lafler
Happy Scottish Day at St. Edward’s!
This is such a wonderful day of celebration and pageantry.
A wonderful tradition.
The Episcopal Church was birthed not only out of the Church of England,
but was able to continue to grow and exist with the help of Scottish Bishops who consecrated the first Episcopal Bishops over 225 years ago.
We celebrate the Scottish heritage of our church today.
Last week’s Gospel reading and this week’s Gospel reading describe the calling of the first disciples of Jesus.
They were simple men…
Not a wealthy business…
Not a prestigious member of society…
Though, not the bottom rung either.
They were hard working, blue collar, simple fishermen…
Working in the family trade.
Jesus one day came walking by the Sea of Galilee…
He saw two brothers: Peter and Andrew.
He called out to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
And they left what they were doing and followed Jesus.
Jesus walks further down the shore of the lake…
There were two more brothers… from a different family:
James and John.
He called them as well.
They left what they were doing and followed Jesus.
And thus, the Gospels tell the story of Jesus with these men closely at his side… at least until Jesus was arrested 3 years later.
One of these men that was called that day was Andrew…
Focusing on him for a minute…
Andrew has a unique place in the Gospel narratives.
He was not part of the closest three to Jesus…
That belonged to the other three that were called on that day.
Peter, James, and John.
But it seems every time Andrew shows up in the scriptures,
he is leading someone to Jesus.
In the Gospel of John, Andrew’s first act after following Jesus was to find his brother and bring him to Jesus.
He is always named in the list of disciples, and Andrew was the disciple who brought the boy with the loaves and fishes to Jesus for the feeding of the multitude.
We might call Andrew the first missionary in the company of disciples.
Andrew is often overshadowed by his brother Peter.
Yet, church tradition has Andrew travelling to Scythia (which would be modern day Ukraine),
Other church traditions have him travelling north all the way to what is now modern day Scotland…
To a town named after him…
(also, the place where golf was invented)
Now, tradition has it that he was fastened to an X-shaped cross and suffered death at the hands of angry pagans.
St. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland.
And that X-shaped cross is the symbol of the Scottish flag.
And it all started with an answering of the call of Jesus.
Jesus said, “Follow me.”
We see this call in the collect prayed on the feast day of St. Andrew…
Which is the first feast day of the New Church Year – November 30.
The prayer goes:
Almighty God, who gave such grace to your apostle Andrew that he readily obeyed the call of your Son Jesus Christ, and brought his brother with him:
(And then the petition in the prayer asks)
Give us, who are called by your Holy Word,
grace to follow him without delay,
and to bring those near to us into his gracious presence;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God,
now and for ever…
You see the story of St. Andrew…
The narrative in our Gospel…
The lesson for today…
You are called!
You are called.
How do I know you are called by God?
Because you are at church today.
God is obviously wanting to get your attention…
To fill you with his presence…
To strengthen and heal you…
And to send you out in to the world to proclaim the good news of Jesus.
You are called by God.
Now, I want to give you a few ways (six actually) by which you are called.
Number one: You are called through the gospel to be saved.
In 2 Thessalonians (2.13-14) St. Paul writes:
But we ought always to thank God for you,
brothers and sisters loved by the Lord,
because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.
He called you to this through our gospel,
that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is God’s desire that all come to salvation… (2 Timothy 2.3-4)
He is calling you to be saved by the gift of God’s grace…
Through the work of the cross of Jesus…
Through the power of the Holy Spirit.
You are called to be saved through the gospel.
Number two: You are called to be children of God.
When a person becomes a Christian they are brought into the family of God… the people of God… they become children of God.
In 1 Peter (2.9-10) the apostle writes:
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Once you were not a people,
but now you are the people of God;
once you had not received mercy,
but now you have received mercy.
God calls us to be his people…
He makes us his children through faith.
Number three: You are called to live a holy life.
Uh oh. Here it comes… Here comes all the rules and regulations.
When you are called out of something into something else things look different…
Desires get transformed.
In 2 Timothy (1.8-10) it is written:
He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.
This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,
but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior,
Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
And this calling toward holiness comes with God himself within us…
The Holy Spirit.
God doesn’t save us through Jesus Christ…and then say…
Hope you make it buddy…
No he gives us the Holy Spirit to empower us toward good works…
In theology this is called Sanctification…
By the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Number four: You are called to share the good news of Jesus Christ. This is often called the Great Commission.
In Matthew 28 (vv.18-20) the Evangelist writes:
Then Jesus came to them and said,
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
We see this same calling to share the good news of Jesus in our Gospel reading today when Jesus said:
“Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people.”
Sharing our faith can be really intimidating in this world… for sure!
But we do share a lot of other things… even passionately!
A colleague of mine tweeted recently:
[You are] already excellent evangelists for what [you] love
(that new Netflix series, [your] team that just made it into the playoffs, [your] preferred politician). Ha! It’s true.
We are called to share the good news of Jesus.
Number five: You are called to love God and love others.
This is often called the Great Commandment.
In the Gospel of Mark (12.29-31) Jesus said:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
There is no commandment greater than these.”
This includes the people we like and the people we don’t like.
We are called to love all people.
Number six: You are called to serve.
St. Peter writes in his first epistle (1 Peter 4.10-11):
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
If anyone speaks,
they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God.
If anyone serves,
they should do so with the strength God provides,
so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.
To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever.
As Pastor Matt Smethurst reminds us in a recent tweet:
Christianity is not a spectator sport. Commit to a church.
We are called to serve each other as the people of God…
As the church.
And one of the beauties of all six of these callings is you see them play out in the life and tradition of St. Andrew.
So may we…
Answer the call…
God is calling us.
May we respond to that calling.
I encourage you today…
Answer that call.