Greetings from Peter Mayer

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Net Gains-Epiphany 3a Sermon January 23, 2011

Epiphany 3a
January 23, 2011
Pastor Ronald T. Glusenkamp
Net Gains

12Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. 13He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
15"Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,
on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles —
16the 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."
17From that time Jesus began to proclaim, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near."
18As 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. 19And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fish for people." 20Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21As 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. 22Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
23Jesus 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. Matt 4

Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The Psalm appointed for today brightly proclaims, 1The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom then | shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I | be afraid?
(Psalm 27).

It’s all about Jesus. Jesus comes onto the scene in today’s Gospel lesson and calls Peter and Andrew, James and John to follow him. And they drop their nets and follow him. In an amazing manner of recruitment and inspiration Jesus presents the two sets of brothers with an offer they theoretically could refuse, but they don’t. Instead they are so taken by the LIGHT that they leave and followed him.

It was on the Day of Epiphany about 12 years ago when we were still living in St. Louis when a dear mentor, pastor, surrogate grandfather to our children and also wonderful fisherman by the name of Pastor Lee Ogan died. Lee had officially retired but was serving as our congregation’s visitation pastor. Before retirement he had served the same church for over 40 years. He was raised in a Lutheran orphanage in Illinois. Growing up near the town of Dixon he used to tell stories of a young life guard by the name of Reagan who would go on to become president of the United States. Lee loved his family, his St. Louis Cardinals, his Savior Jesus and fishing. I’m not saying he loved fishing more than Jesus. Let’s just say he really loved Jesus and he really, really loved fishing. I believe that like Peter and Andrew, James and John, Pastor Ogan was a fisher of human beings. I cannot tell you how many people he went fishing with who ultimately were introduced to Jesus. At his funeral I asked for a show of hands of everyone who had ever fished with Pastor Ogan and nearly everyone in the room raised their hand. At the funeral we placed two of Lee’s favorite fishing rods by the baptismal font. It seemed very appropriate that the waters of baptism which named and claimed him, might also give hope and joy to all who were caught by the Light of Jesus love and grace. (I need to say, Lee’s other hobby was competing in Senior Olympics in the javelin toss-which is not exactly a good symbol for evangelism).

Lee’s life and ministry echoed the warmth of today’s psalm 1The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom then | shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I | be afraid?
(Psalm 27). Together with his wife, Madge they fished for humans and netted quite a few people for the kingdom of God.

It’s all about Jesus. Today’s first lesson clearly illuminates a hopeful message,
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. (Isaiah 9)

There are various shades and grades of darkness. Darkness came be physical and spiritual. It can be emotional and psychological. It can be so overwhelming that it immobilizes one or even communities from being able to respond to the call or to act out in love and courage. Peter and Andrew, James and John didn’t probably realize it at the moment but as they were leaving their own form of darkness Jesus was inviting them to enter into other people’s darkness and void. On February 27th you are going to be treated to an amazing, illuminating and inspiring experience. Intern Jess has condensed the entire message of the 66 Books of the Bible into just 25 minutes. Yes, just 25 minutes. She did this a week ago with the help of Joni Grundman. And on February 27th at all three services we will move from the time before there was ever time, when the Spirit of God hovered over the darkness and deep waters through the wilderness to the psalms and prophets to the New Testament all the way to the Heavenly City where God’s light shines 24 X 7. Where the host arrayed in white worship and honor the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. This is an event to which you can invite people to “come and see.”
The Bible in 25 minutes!

As you listen, you will see, hear and know that it’s all about Jesus. Now some folks who participated in the 90 Day Bible Reading experience said, “Wow, I didn’t know it could be done in 25 minutes!”
Well, think of it as the “Readers Digest” condensed version. Now, here’s the deal. It’s all about Jesus. And yet, as you can see and hear in the gospel lesson when it’s about Jesus it means that it’s time to move, to get involved in the mission and vision of the kingdom of God. The church council spent last Saturday in retreat at the Rocky Mountain Synod Office. We gathered there to talk about our roles and responsibilities as sisters and brothers who “have walked in darkness, but have seen a great light.” We are reading a book called, Borderland Churches by Gary V. Nelson. You’ll be hearing more about this in the weeks and months to come. At the same time over fifty middle school adults and about twenty adult leaders where at the Middle School Youth Gathering forming faith, being authentic, available and affirming.

Celebrate the light and get ready to fish for humans. As the Psalmist clearly communicated, 1The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom then | shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I | be afraid?
(Psalm 27).