The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth. When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it. Jonah 3:1-5, 10
I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away. 1 Corinthians 7:29-31
After John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him. Mark 1:14-20
Today’s three readings provide an interesting story, given that it is also Vestry Sunday. The Old Testament reading from Jonah asks us about our commitment to the community. God ask Jonah to go to Nineveh. Jonah went the other way. When trouble befell him, he agreed to go and preached God’s word of judgment. The people of Nineveh repented and Jonah was caught off guard. Upset that God didn’t carry out judgment on Nineveh, Jonah is found sulking under a tree.
In writing to the new Christian community at Corinth, Paul reminded them that the world was clearly changing (perhaps not a quickly as Paul imagined) and so people needed to evaluate what they were doing and find a way to draw closer to God in the last days. Clearly the world continues to unfold and we might do well to ask if we are on God’s path or the world’s path?
In the Gospel reading, we find Jesus encountering people in their daily life and calling them to come and follow Him; to be fishers of people! While time has perhaps taken the edge off this, are we not still amazed at how quickly and clearly the disciples turned and followed Jesus?
As we look at this community of St. James Westminster, we need to set a vision based on the needs set before us by God. In my report to Vestry, I outline my belief that there are three elements to an emerging vision 1) outreach 2) inreach and 3) facilities. We need to be outside our walls, reaching the community that is no longer aware of what it is we do. We need to rededicate ourselves to learning and discipling to create a growing family that is able to articulate faith and vision both inwardly and outwardly. And we need to have a place from which to do this ministry.
The three short evaluations of three passages of Scripture should give us some pause for thought.
The Rev. Canon Keith Nethery