On Sunday January 26th worship at Wesley Chapel began as we sang ‘Christ is the world’s Light, he and none other.’ Christine led the opening prayers. We then sang ‘Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?’ before the readings from Jeremiah 1v4-10 and I Corinthians 1v18-31. We sang ‘I, the Lord of sea and sky’ before the gospel reading from Matthew 4v12-13.
I then preached the sermon which began with Jeremiah’s call to be a prophet. Jeremiah felt daunted by the prospect of being a prophet as he was too young. However the Lord reassured him by telling him that He would give Jeremiah the words to say and would empower him by his grace. The message was a rebuke to Israel about its foreign policy, so that did not add to Jeremiah’s popularity, but he was empowered to give his message. We too need to rely on Jesus and speak the words he gives us, rather than relying on our own understanding.
Local preachers too have a call to preach. My late first husband Stephen felt called to preach after he heard this passage about Jesus calling the disciples to be a fisher of men. I felt my call to be a local preacher was confirmed when in Luke 10v1 Jesus sent out 72 two by two to go ahead of him to every town and place; I felt I was being called to a joint ministry with Stephen at that time.
After Jesus’ baptism his ministry began but when John was imprisoned he went back to Galilee from where he had come to minister to the despised Galileans; the Jews in Jerusalem regarded themselves as superior to the Galilean Jews as Galilee had a large Gentile contingent as well as Jews. Jesus called the people to repent because the Kingdom of God was near. God had drawn near, in the very life and ministry of Jesus, to those people who had accepted Him. Jesus moved to Capernaum by the sea to start his ministry. He called first the fishermen, Simon, Andrew, James and John who left their work immediately to follow Jesus. Was it irresponsible of Jesus to call the fishermen to make such sacrifices, leaving their families in the lurch. We need to remember that Jesus had grown up in that region and the fishermen would have got to know him and would be ready to follow him. At first they would be making mission trips and would return home in the meantime. It was a risk leaving their secure livelihood and they would face the same challenges of persecution as Jesus and also be associated with him as they shared his Galilean accent. Jesus called his disciples into relationship with him when he called them to follow him.
Paul felt exasperated that the early church was falling into factions, some supported him, some supported Peter (Cephas) and some followed Apollo; he told them that it was Jesus they were all following not particular church leaders or speakers. He said surely Jesus was not divided! It was Jesus only who had been crucified for them and it was in the Name of Jesus that they had been baptised. It was only through giving themselves to Jesus that they were transformed not by following any particular speaker. We are to come as we are, bringing our gifts and God will enable us to serve; it will be a challenge but we will not face these challenges alone. Let us accept God’s call to follow him, serving and loving others as Jesus did.
We then sang ‘Give to me, Lord, a thankful heart.’ Christine led the intercessions and then the worship concluded when we sang, ‘Go forth and tell! O Church of God, awake!’ and said the Grace together.