The Rev'd Robert Warren.
Jonah 3:1-5, 10
In the first Lesson this week the Lord calls out to the Prophet Jonah (a second time) to go to Ninevah and preach to its sinful inhabitants. Jonah does just that and the inhabitants of the city, from the greatest to the least, repent and are converted. In this week's Gospel reading Jesus calls out to Peter and Andrew, James and John to follow him and to become "fishers of men" and they (according to Marks Gospel) "immediately" leave their nets, their families and their livelihoods and become disciples. What a remarkable set of lessons for a Sunday service preceding an Annual General Meeting. God speaks, men and women say "yes sir" and the product is delivered nicely wrapped in plastic.
The sermon is bound to be short. We can be out of here before 1:15.
If you're not a member of the Lunch Bunch or somehow missed Sunday School during your childhood, because your parents wanted to keep Sundays free for other things, you might be forgiven for not remembering that Jonah's successful preaching mission to Ninevah only happened after the second time of asking. When first asked Jonah ran away, there was a ship and a storm and a great fish which vomited him out upon a beach with a few square carrots. You might also have overlooked the fact that while the core disciples of Jesus are gathered quite swiftly in the Gospel account it takes them quite a long time and considerable mental and physical distress before they understand what it is that God has called them to do. There's nothing automatic about it.
These are deceptively simple accounts if you take them for what they are without wider reading and reflection.
Who preached to you first? Did anybody lower the bar to make it seem easy to say yes to what God was claiming in you? Did you hope that it would leave your lifestyles untouched, your ambitions and your boundaries? And did it all end in tears or with a sense of failure a decade ago? Are you on your second try now? Or are you considering a second try because the call of God is still not dead within you but merely waiting for you to push open the door?
Know this - that God will call his workers to the field, his fishermen from their boats and his prophets to Ninevah and Clermont-Ferrand. He will not stop asking. Many will say yes. Even after a false start or two the message will sink in. Because it is time and the prize is rich, the many will allow themselves to be hardened to the task and set to the work.