St. Matthew’s Sermon 01-22-2017

St. Matthew’s Sermon 01-22-2017

Joyfully Disrupted

Isaiah 9:1-4, 1 Corinthians 1:10-18, Matthew 4:12-23

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God. Amen

Without my own awareness I discovered this week that I was doing a sermon series. Two weeks ago I spoke of our obligation, through our baptism, to carry the baton of God’s revealed will, that was passed from the Baptist to Christ so many years ago, forward through our time and into the future.

Last week, working with John’s account of the Good News, I pointed out his focus on fulfilling the spiritual needs of our selves and others; comparing that to the inclusion of the physical needs found more prominently in the synoptic Gospels.

I also pointed out, last week, how all 4 Gospels came together in their stories, right at the point where Jesus and the Baptist meet. This is a point where the Holy Spirit is also present in all 4 accounts.

Now, in today’s reading, we hear Matthew’s account of Christ calling his first 4 Disciples. As we heard, Jesus says to the fishermen Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” [And] “Immediately they left their nets and followed him”. Then he comes upon two other fishermen who are also brothers, James and John, working with their father Zebedee. Jesus calls them and “Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him”.

The author doesn’t explain why these 4 just dropped everything and followed Jesus. Were they already familiar with Christ’s teaching and excited to be called? Were they so desperate to get out of their hard work for little pay that even a blind invitation was an acceptable excuse to walk away? Or was it the power of the Holy Spirit that moved them to blindly follow Jesus when he called?

The lack of specifics is no accident. With this the writer draws the mystery of God’s ways into the story and allows us to ponder the powers at play and how they will work toward fulfillment of God’s will and calls us to reflect on the “immediate” response of the 4 being called and how that calling and the appropriate response demonstrates how disruptive being a faithful follower can be.

Think about this. There was no application to be filled out, no interview process, no time to discuss the implications with family before dropping everything, not even selling their business equipment, and walking away from it all to follow the one who called you. That is disruption of life; disturbance of the status quo.

I have spoken of my own experience when the Spirit called me to ministry; how I closed a business I spent years building, how my wife assumed full responsibility for family income as I spent 3 years racking up tuition debt; and, on the brighter side, how I managed to graduate with a not-to-shabby GPA. It was disruptive to say the least! But now I stand before you joyfully doing what God called me to do. Each step, each success, was the doing of the Holy Spirit! That I firmly believe!

Such personal experiences with the Holy Spirit are not as uncommon as one might believe; it’s just that we don’t always recognize them as they are happening. In fact, the Spirit is active right now, right here in St. Matthew’s; fully engaging another of our very own members.

Rather than giving you that story second hand, I’ve asked and she consented, to tell you about that now…

(Here, Cindy related her story of a chance meeting with a woman, single mother of three, struggling through hard times. Her only request for help was for some Christmas decorations so she could make her home look like Christmas for her children. Cindy found some decorations for them but also continued in giving the woman some “coaching” and encouragement0. Through Cindy and other help she recruited the family was also provided with some Christmas gifts.)

So, we could think that what Cindy is experiencing is nothing more than a series of coincidences: a woman in need of helpful guidance just happens to meet someone with a big heart; and that someone just happens to feel a connection and willingness to help, and that someone just happens to know the difference between helping and enabling. Or we can see it for what it is; the Spirit moving in a way to get this woman and her family exactly the help she needs when she needs it!

Now, let me add, it is also no coincidence that Cindy is a member of a Church, St. Matthew’s Church, whose mission it is to carry the baton forward; to do the work of fulfilling God’s will as revealed by Jesus Christ and with that we recognize that the Spirit is not only connecting a woman in need to Cindy, the Spirit is connecting a woman in need to us!

Cindy has the gift of being able to help this woman with her spiritual needs; lifting her up from her despair and giving her much needed hope along with encouragement and sound guidance. But Cindy is not able to provide all the physical needs of setting up a new home, getting her car fixed and putting food on the table at times when her assistance doesn’t reach the end of the month. This is why the Spirit has involved us.

That’s right; the Spirit is calling you into this too. Yes, it is disruptive; yes, we could make excuses or look for reasons to not get involved. Or we can seek the joy to be found in being disrupted by, and responding to, God’s call.

I invite you to recognize the mysterious movement of the Spirit among us, to ponder the powers at play, to respond immediately in the work of fulfilling God’s will, and to rejoice in this Spirit initiated disruption!



Matthew 4:12-23
4:12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee.
4:13 He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali,
4:14 so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
4:15 “Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles
4:16 the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.”
4:17 From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
4:18 As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea for they were fishermen.
4:19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.”
4:20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
4:21 As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them.
4:22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
4:23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.



Isaiah 9:1-4
9:1 But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
9:2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness on them light has shined.
9:3 You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder.
9:4 For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.

Psalm 27:1, 4-9
27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
27:4 One thing I asked of the Lord, that I will seek after: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.
27:5 For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent: he will set me high on a rock.
27:6 Now my head is lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord.
27:7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud, be gracious to me and answer me!
27:8 “Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!” Your face, Lord, do I seek.
27:9 Do not hide your face from me. Do not turn your servant away in anger, you who have been my help. Do not cast me off, do not forsake me, O God of my salvation!

1 Corinthians 1:10-18
1:10 Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose.
1:11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters.
1:12 What I mean is that each of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.”
1:13 Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
1:14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,
1:15 so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name.
1:16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.)
1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power.
1:18 For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.