Jesus calls some of the first followers to live out of their identity as fishermen and join in God’s mission of healing. Now, God call each of us out of our beloved identities to join. It is the urgent task of our time.
Vicar Andrea Bonneville
Third Sunday after Epiphany, Year B
Text: Mark 1:14-20
Beloved in Christ, grace and peace to you in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
What are we waiting for? Now is the time.
This is the urgency that Jesus uses as he comes out of the wilderness and begins his public ministry. It is the urgency present on the shores of the Sea of Galilee as as he calls some of his first followers to join in his ministry, in his mission.
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus’s mission begins with an epiphany. A sudden and surprising statement that calls for people to repent, meaning to turn their lives around and open their hearts, and to trust and believe in the good news. The good news that God’s reign has come near and that God is active in the world working through people and systems and creation to bring forth a new creation that demands healing, justice, and love.
This epiphany rocks the world. Shakes and quakes reverberate throughout the land all the way to the Sea of Galilee as Jesus rocks the boats of this first followers, proclaiming “follow me.”
This epiphany demands immediate action from the fishermen. People who are talented in the art of patience and waiting, feel the urgency like the pull of a big fish, and drop what they are doing to join in the mission of Jesus. I suspect their hearts were probably racing as they stepped out of their boats, a place that had become their comfort zones, to begin to learn a new way of fishing.
Jesus calls the fishermen to “fish for people” which has traditionally been used as a metaphor for evangelism and conversion. But what if the fishermen are called to fish for people because the identity of fishermen is who they are and the act of fishing is what they have prepared their whole lives for.
An immediate transformation takes place on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, but the fishermen maintain their identity. For them, and for us, following God means to fully become ourselves, to fully become who God created us to be, to fully live into our identity as beloved children of God with God’s mission set on our hearts.
The first followers demonstrate to us that faith is to have bold confidence in God’s mission, even if there is a cost, even if we have to step out of our comfort zones. Because believing in the good news that Jesus proclaims and living our lives in a way that trusts this good news, even though sometimes have doubts, continues to transform the world.
Fishing for people in Mark’s Gospel is about casting out demons, denouncing evil structures and systems, holding leaders accountable to care for all people, and healing—a whole lot of healing. As Jesus’s ministry begins, the first work of the disciples is to witness to and be a part of this ministry of healing.
Healing was the urgent task then and healing is the urgent task now.
As long as there is suffering, healing needs to happen. And as long as there is a need for healing, epiphanies, large and small, are going to rock our world and jolt us into action.
We, like the first followers of Jesus, must change our directions and transform our lives while we live into our identities of who God uniquely calls us to be. We must step out of our comfort zones and learn new ways of doing things that puts care for our neighbors who have been marginalized by systems and structures of oppression at the center of our who we are.
We as the church fully become ourselves when we become a place and a presence of healing and transformation. A community of diverse people all with unique identities and vocations working together to witness to God’s healing and aid in bringing this healing to our world.
Healing that regenerates that natural world, diminishes the power of white supremacy, mends the broken hearts of all who grieve.
Healing that restores identity to those who have been invisible in our society, repairs the harm of the failures of the Christian church, rebuilds our systems and structures, and reconciles our communities.
Healing that soothes the world by forming a balm; mixing with God’s mercy, justice, and steadfast love with our beloved identities and compassion. A healing balm for all of creation.
We join in the work of healing and know that we also need healing. Healing within our personal lives and healing in our communities. Healing through God’s forgiveness as we confess ways we have benefited from systems that oppress our neighbors. Healing as we work to love all of our neighbors, even the ones who are difficult to love.
Healing is to remember the past with our eyes focused on creating a new future, a future filled with mercy, justice, and love.
During the inauguration on Wednesday, Amanda Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet, recited her poem “The Hill We Climb.” Her powerful words, a reaction to insurrection just two weeks prior, quickly became a healing balm for our nation and an epiphany that rocked our world.
I will share with you a few of her words with you now, but I encourage you to revisit all of her work.
She spoke to the world:
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
If only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it
The time is now to see the light and be the light.
God calls poets and fishermen; teachers and engineers; nurses and accountants; parents and grandparents; children and students; musicians and politicians; factory workers and grocery cashiers […] beloved children of God like each and every one of us to step into the light, to step out of our comfort zones, for an urgent task is at hand: to bring healing to our world.
What are we waiting for? Now is the time.
 Amanda Gorman, “The Hill We Climb”, Recited at Presidential Inauguration, Washington D.C., January 20, 2021 https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/20/amanda-gormans-inaugural-poem-the-hill-we-climb-full-text.html