I had thought last week that I was drawing a line under the Epiphany as we gathered for the Presentation of Christ in the Temple.
The thought that we had seen the manifestation of God (Epiphany) and then witnessed the fulfilment of God’s presence in the world along with Simeon and Anna seemed a sensible place to draw a line.
But I am now left realising that this cannot be the case. Maybe there is no line to be drawn at all?
All our readings for today speak clearly about “response”.
In the calling, or is it the responding of Isaiah? We read those well-known words
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I; send me!’ 9And he said, ‘Go ….and say to this people: ..
Isaiah had felt the presence of God, responded to it by offering himself and then was told “go”
In the epistle we hear Paul talking about his own response to God…. A bit mixed up at first maybe…. after all he admits his first response was to persecute the church rather than be its apostle!
But then he received things “from God”, and probably from other teachers too which convinced him that a different response was called for and he describes it as being “untimely born” and so his new role as apostle to the Gentiles began, and some would argue the founding of what we today describe as the church. (somewhat different!)
And then the Gospel reading…. Equally well known the calling of early disciples and being told they were going to catch people from then on!
If we were to apply those three what questions to this passage as we think on it I wonder what answers we may give?
What do we see happening here?
So what does it mean?
What next for us? Where does it lead us?
We read as the conclusion…
“When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed Jesus”
I am challenged with each of these readings to find my own response, rather than sit and watch.
If I were to say Here am I send me? What would happen next?
If I, as I know I have, received traditions and teaching from the church down the years… what am I going to do as a response to this?
And if I describe myself as a follower of Jesus what will this actually lead me to do or to be?
All this week Richard Rohr has been thinking about Jesus, in his daily meditations on line.
He raised a really interesting point at the beginning of the week when he wondered if we have been too busy thanking Jesus rather than following him.
He certainly has a point when you look back at the years of Christian theology since the 5th century when we began to focus almost to the loss of everything else on “what Jesus did for us” (metaphysically speaking )rather than on what Jesus means for us or what Jesus taught us.
Those people who encountered Jesus on the shore of Galilee, and in the villages around there were not swayed by what Jesus did for them (as in gaining atonement) but they did respond to what he taught and what he did… as in what he showed them.
They were affected by his love and his closeness to God, and they did feel called to follow him … and many did.
So if we can describe ourselves as fellow followers of Jesus, then our response to Jesus become quite a crucial thing. Certainly a life changing thing, and quite possibly a challenge.
The gospel writer puts it quite succinctly and this could be where our “what next” question will lead us. The writer even reminds us that in encountering God we need not be afraid.. he says…
“Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.’ When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed Jesus”
What are our boats do you think?
What does following Jesus mean for us and how does it shape us?
So I will take away the line I thought I had drawn last week and simple leave us with a question instead….
How are we going to respond ?