This week's author is the Rev. Kent J. Siladi, Conference Minister of the Connecticut Conference, UCC.
Scripture: Mark 1:14-20 The Message (MSG)After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee preaching the Message of God: “Time’s up! God’s kingdom is here. Change your life and believe the Message.”
Passing along the beach of Lake Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew net-fishing. Fishing was their regular work. Jesus said to them, “Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.” They didn’t ask questions. They dropped their nets and followed.
A dozen yards or so down the beach, he saw the brothers James and John, Zebedee’s sons. They were in the boat, mending their fishnets. Right off, he made the same offer. Immediately, they left their father Zebedee, the boat, and the hired hands, and followed.
Reflection:“They didn’t ask questions.”
Wait just a minute. They didn’t ask questions? Think that through with me for a moment. Use your imagination on this lakeside encounter. A short fourteen verses into the first Gospel we read this account of the disciple’s recruitment. The first to be recruited are the brothers Simon and Andrew. Maybe it had been a bad day or week or month of fishing? Maybe they were just simply worn out from getting up before sunrise and the brutally hard work of net-fishing.
I tell you what, I surely would have asked questions. I live my life more intrigued by the questions that people asked then by the answers. You can learn a lot about people by the questions that they ask, what they are curious about, what they need answers for. Make no mistake, I would have asked Jesus a few questions.
What do you mean catch men and women? Catch them for what Jesus? What qualifications do you have to teach us about this people catching business? Is there some kind of compensation to make up for my lost fishing revenue? Is there travel reimbursement? Will there be a strong Wi-Fi signal where you are taking us? How much packing do I need to do? How long will we be gone for? Is this a long-term commitment? You probably would have questions too I would imagine.
Mark records no such questions. In fact, Mark records that they didn’t ask ANY questions. They simply responded to the call of Jesus and followed. James and John get the exact same offer from Jesus and offer the same response. They left everything behind (immediately), and they followed Jesus.
What would it take for us to drop everything and follow? It seems to me there had to be unwavering trust in Jesus that what he was asking the disciples to do was rock solid. No questions asked. Simply get up from what you are doing and follow. The work is urgent. There is no time to stop and consider, no time to calculate strategy, no time to work out all the details. The realm of God is here he said. You have a part to play in living out the Gospel, and I need you now.
In 2018, what do we need to drop to follow Jesus? What would we relinquish that gets in the way of our ability to drop our nets and simply follow his teachings and his way of life? How can we build that kind of trust into our faith journeys to say, “I don’t know where this is going Jesus, but I’m all in with you?”
It’s really remarkable isn’t it? “They didn’t ask questions.”
Prayer:Okay God, we are a questioning bunch. If we don’t get the answer, or if we don’t like the answer we tend to go our own way. We need your help to set aside our questions and to follow. Grant us your strength and wisdom to know when and how to do that.
Special Prayer Requests:
- Those grieving or suffering a mudslide in California left 20 dead and 4 people missing on Jan. 9; and
- a prayer of hope that the work of rights leaders, like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., will continue until all people are treated with equal dignity and respect.
- Those grieving or suffering after a train crashed in South Africa killing 18 and injuring over 200 on Jan. 4;
- those grieving or suffering after an apartment fire in NYC left 12 dead on Dec. 29;
- those grieving or suffering in Afghanistan after a suicide bomb attack killed over 40 and wounded dozens more on Dec. 28;
- those affected by a winter storm that dropped over 60 inches of snow in parts of western Pennsylvania since Dec. 23;
- Robert G. Hale Sr., grandfather of Emily McKenna, Office Manager of the CT Conference, who struggles with health issues and is waiting for surgery scheduled next month;
- those grieving or suffering after a train derailed in Washington state, killing several and leaving dozens injured on Dec. 18;
- those grieving after a school shooting in New Mexico left 3 dead on Dec. 7;
- those grieving or suffering after an attack on U.N. peacekeeping forces in eastern Congo left 15 dead and over 50 wounded on Dec. 7;
- the people of Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Maria caused massive devastation on Sept. 20;
- the community of Conway, MA, and the United Congregational Church, UCC, Conway after a tornado touched down on Feb. 25 causing significant structural damage;
- the members and staff of Thompson Congregational Church after a fire severely damage the building on Dec. 29;
- Mark Engstrom, member of the CT Conference Board of Directors, and his wife Nina, who are facing health issues;
- Michael White, former Operations Manager at Silver Lake Conference Center, who was diagnosed with colon cancer;
- Juliane Silver, the daughter of the Rev. Jim Silver of Middletown, who is in dire need of a liver transplant. We pray that a donor will come forward giving the gift of life and a portion of their liver to Juliane;
- Chacy Eveland, husband of the Rev. Marcia Eveland, pastor of the First Congregational Church UCC of Ansonia, who has been moved to a full-time facility for care of dementia;
- the thousands of migrants worldwide who flee from violence and persecution in search of safety;
- our ecumenical partners in the Kyung-Ki Presbytery in South Korea;
- the Conference's partners working for peace in Colombia amidst violence;
- the leaders of this nation, that they may meet the challenges of the day with insight, wisdom, and compassion;
- this nation, that it may continue its difficult work to end the practices of racism; and
- those serving or living in war or conflict zones around the world, or where terrorists have struck.
Please Remember These Connecticut Conference Churches
In Your Prayers:
First Congregational Church, UCC
Patricia Kriss - P
King Street UCC
Paul E. Bryant-Smith - P
South Killingly Congregational Church UCC
Kevin Williams - P
Westfield Congregational Church UCC
Jonathan Chapman - P
Kent J. Siladi
Rev. Kent Siladi is the Director of Philanthropy for the National Office of the United Church of Christ.
January 15, 2018