7th November 2021
Sermon for the Third Sunday before Advent
A sermon preached by Canon Nigel Davies, Vicar of the Close
Sunday 7 November 2021, 10.00, The Third Sunday before Advent
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“Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me.’”
Today’s Gospel reading begins with an ordinary day, in an ordinary fishing village, in Palestine. On this ordinary day, people were going about their ordinary business, but it was on this ordinary day, that people’s lives were changed for ever.
Two brothers, Simon, and Andrew were fishing. Mark emphasises the ordinariness of this – they were fishing because they were fishermen. And as Jesus passed by, he saw them casting their nets. So far so ordinary, but Jesus saw nothing ordinary, for he saw two men who, with him, would change the world. And when he spoke to them, his words must have had such an authority and attraction, that Andrew and Peter didn’t think twice about leaving their nets, their ordinary lives, and going with him.
The same thing happened again with two other brothers, James, and John. They were engaged in a similarly ordinary activity – not fishing, but mending their nets. When Jesus called them, they too dropped everything and followed him, leaving the ordinary behind.
The presence of Jesus at the lakeside, made everything else pale into insignificance and changed the ordinary, into the extra-ordinary. The brothers were captivated by this man, whose voice perhaps they had heard a little earlier, proclaiming:
“the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news”.
‘To repent’ is to turn away from one way of life and towards another. This is exactly what Andrew, Simon, James, and John did that day, taking their first steps into the kingdom of God. The ordinary day, turn out NOT to be so ordinary, after all!
In this narrative from Mark’s Gospel, we hear of the beginning of Jesus’ life with the disciples. They had no idea what was ahead. He was calling them to a life of relationship, love and miracle. He was also calling them to sacrifice, pain and death, but there
was also an eternal aspect to this calling – Jesus was calling them to share not just in his earthly life and death, but also in his resurrection.
This day of calling, when they responded to Jesus’ request, was a day that took their lives into a whole new dimension. They were ordinary people, just like us. The call was very simple for them, as it is for us too – ‘follow me’ – the fishermen’s response and ours, is what made and makes the difference.
Following Jesus is about stepping into the kingdom of God, putting our trust in Jesus and beginning the journey of faith. Most of us will not be called to do anything extraordinary, but simply to be faithful to God in the ordinary things. However, it does mean looking carefully at our lives, and leaving behind anything that distracts us from God.
In 589 AD St. David famously said:
“Be joyful, keep the faith, do the little things.”
and as we do, we will find ourselves part of the extraordinary kingdom of God, drawing people into it by the genuineness of our love for Jesus, and one another. Jesus draws us by his love to share our lives with him, with others, and to be part of something that is far from ordinary, just simply amazing.