Annual Meeting Sunday

January 25, 2015 by Ken Dale

It was probably around 1979 one day I got the mail while serving my first church in Carmel, Maine. I got this letter telling me that I was going to be listed in the ?Who?s Who? of religion. It was a wonderful moment of WOW for my ego. I mean things were going very well in the church I was serving as ?interim? because they couldn?t call me as minister because they didn?t have a quorum. It didn?t take long for me to realize that this was a marketing thing ? you got listed in the publication if you bought it. It was fun for the very short time that it lasted. And as time went on I got a kick out of actually reading in someone?s professional profile ?listed in the who?s who of religion.?

Our gospel lesson this morning is similar to last Sunday as Jesus calls his disciples. So what would we expect the Son of God to be looking for on their profile? Listed in who?s who? Being smart? Ken Jennings maybe, who won 74 consecutive matches on Jeopardy with 2.5 million dollars smart and rich!? Dr. Jason Betts developed the World Genius Directory and he names the smartest person in the world as Dr. Evangelos Katsioulis, a 36 year old Greek psychologist who has an IQ of 198 which is 23 points higher than Ken Jennings and double the score of your average human being.

Interesting isn?t it ? when Jesus starts putting his crew together he starts with 4 fishermen. Simon, Andrew, James and John. Young men in a world where the life expectancy is low. James and John were old enough to be established in a trade yet still young enough to have their Dad, Zebedee, in the boat with them. In that time the ideal career was not fishing but being under the tutelage of a rabbi and shining in Hebrew school. But Jesus, the Son of God, didn?t go there for followers. We don?t know what it was about Jesus that led them to follow. We don?t know if Jesus already knew them or if this was his first contact with them. But there was something compelling about Jesus that caused them and others to follow with no idea of where it would lead. Matthew was another who followed and he was a tax collector ? not people?s favorite person by any means. There were 7 more but we don?t know about them.?? We do know that further down the road when things got tough, one of them betrayed Jesus and another denied him.

But they were all ordinary people that I think it safe to say had no professional profiles, background checks, tested IQ levels, financial wealth, professional skills, or even temple education.

Gathered as church ? as people of faith, we too believe God in Christ has called us ? each of us and all of us. Since the Reformation we understand that call goes to everybody ? not just clergy. The word for that call is vocation ? ?calling? and it is understood that every job that works to build up and maintain society is a calling ? teacher, nurse, insurance salesperson, car mechanic, politician, and those callings within family structure ? mother, father, aunt, uncle, grandparent, child. In all those callings we serve God. In all of those callings God is at work in and through us in this world.

Sometimes it?s in unusual and interesting ways. Our reading about Jonah this morning tells of someone called to proclaim a message to people he didn?t like. He tries unsuccessfully to avoid his call but he can?t. He hopes they won?t accept his message. He delivers the shortest sermon in the Bible ? an 8 word threat of destruction ? and it is effective.

The disciples and Jonah are called ? God meets them where they are and as they are and puts them to work. No doubt the voice was not from ?out there? somewhere but a voice from within. And that voice no doubt called them simply to be who they were and not someone they were not. Who they were was what God called them to be and by God?s grace they were more than expected ? still ordinary people like us, yet called by God and called with a gift to share for the up-building of that gathering of ordinary people gathered as a part of the Body of Christ.

On this day of our annual meeting we get to see the year now past in pictures. Ordinary people gathered in this place as part of the Body of Christ ? seeking to follow, to serve, to learn and grow in faith. As you watch may you be open to all that is going on in our life together ? by the grace of God?