Second Sunday after the Epiphany
January 19, 2003
The Gospel: John 1: 43-51
Sermon: "The Called and the Callers"
The Rev. William D. Oldland
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, "Follow me." Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth." Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, "Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!" Nathanael asked him, "Where did you get to know me?" Jesus answered, "I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you." Nathanael replied, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" Jesus answered, "Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these." And he said to him, "Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."
John 1: 43-51
The Called and the Callers
Second Sunday after the Epiphany - January 19, 2003
This morning I have brought three different calls. The first one is a duck call. Most of us have heard this kind. It makes a sound like a mallard, a quacking sound. The second one is different. This second call is for wood ducks, sometimes called summer ducks. This one sounds like a whistle. The last call isn't for ducks at all. This call is for hounds. It is often called a deer horn. The name is misleading. It doesn't call deer. It is used by the driver to call the dogs back at the end of a drive. All three of these calls are used to attract the attention of different animals. Some are very soft and musical. Others are louder and more abrasive. In the hands of the right person they can be used to attract the attention of the correct ducks or dogs.
In this morning's readings we see three different ways that people are called by God. In Isaiah, Samuel hears the still small voice of God. The voice calls softly in the dimly lit temple. The voice even sounds a little like Eli because Samuel thinks it is Eli calling. However, God speaks directly to the young boy calling him to the ministry.
The second example of calling comes from the Gospel of John. Jesus sees Philip and says two words, "Follow me". Philip leaves what he is doing and follows Jesus. Philip receives a simple command from Jesus, gently spoken, but demanding a response. Now we don't know where they went. We don't know what was said between the two of them other than those two words. All we know is Philip got up and went.
Now, how do we know that Philip followed Jesus? We know because of the third type of call. This call came from Philip to Nathanael. After being with Jesus, Philip goes and finds Nathanael. Then one of the greatest conversations between two people takes place. Philip tells Nathanael that they have found the Messiah and that he comes from Nazareth. Nazareth was not the garden spot of Israel. Nazareth was considered to be kind of a dump. As a result, Nathanael questions whether the Messiah could come from such a place. Philip's response is an invitation, "Come and see." By offering this invitation, Philip becomes one of the first Christian evangelists.
Here we see three very different types of call to people. God calls with a still small voice. Jesus gives a gentle command. Philip, a human being like us, issues an invitation. If we did a real exhaustive search of the scriptures we would see that calls from God come in many forms. God has used everything from a burning bush to angels from heaven to call us, to get our attention. In other words God uses whatever is necessary to invite us to follow, to call us into relationship.
The most interesting aspect for us today is that we are both. We are called by God in some way. We are callers for God. We can see from the scriptures above that we are called in many ways. We are all called. We are all called to ministry. Yet, are we open to hear God's call? God may call us as we pray. God may call us as we are driving. God may call us as we sleep or eat. I've even heard of some people who have heard God call to them while they were in the shower. In this call, there is an invitation to respond. We are invited to enter into a relationship with our loving God. In that relationship we are called to ministry.
Here is where we are the callers. Please note that everyone who was called in our scriptures was called to ministry. Some were called to be prophets. Some were called to be apostles. Some were called to be teachers. Some were called to be friends to those in need. Everyone was called to follow God and share the Good News of Jesus to everyone. Now, I know that sounds like I just said that we are to all be evangelists. That is not what I mean. What I mean is that when we hear God's call we are called to respond. Our response to ministry is determined by the gifts God has given us and the work God wants us to do. Some people have incredible computer skills. Some people are gifted with teaching children. Some people are gifted with telling the story of Jesus, evangelists. All of our gifts, every person's call is to be used to spread the Gospel.
I have one final thought for us. We know now that we are called. We know that we are also callers for God. My last thought begins with a question. Who do we call? The Gospel of John gives us a real clue. Philip went to Nathanael, his friend. He invited him to come and see. We can take a lesson from Philip. We go to the people we know. We go to our friends and neighbors. We go with care and love. When we go to them we invite. We invite people to come and see. God will take care of the rest. Today, I ask each of us to think of someone we know to invite in a loving way into this community. Then, I ask that we pray to God and ask for the wisdom and the courage to invite them. We are called by God. We are callers for
God. We share the greatest news in the world. God loves us.