This sermon was originally preached at Mission Hills United Methodist Church in San Diego, California on January 19, 2020. To listen to the full recording, visit our podcast, “Mission Hills United Methodist Church” or search ‘Mission Hills United Methodist Church’ wherever you get your podcasts.
The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).
Our passage today continues with John the Baptist, who baptized Jesus last week. John is obviously a fan of Jesus, which we can sense based on his attitude towards him. John spots Jesus walking by, and immediately, he stops the conversation he was having, and exclaims, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!”. John, though he himself was doing good work, knew that the point of his work was in following Jesus, in making disciples. His ability to point even his own followers towards Jesus is a lesson we get to learn ourselves, as disciples, as Jesus followers.
Like John, that’s our role too, to point people to Jesus. We get to use our call to fuel the physical work we do to point people to him.
My little sister, Ally, was talking to me about her job the other day. She’s a vision therapist, and works with people on training and healing their eyes to see more clearly. She’s also in grad school, studying in the mental health field. Sort of two really different fields, I thought. I was curious, as to what brings them together for her?
So I asked her what she thought her call was. She first asked me if this was for a sermon (which yes, it was). Still, she answered me, and told me her call was to empathy, to empathize with the people she encounters. And that’s what she does with her current work, and what she’ll do with her future work too.
And so, if we use Ally as an example, the work she does is helping people with their vision, their sight. And her call is to empathy. That call is the why behind the what, the fuel to the job itself.
Being a pastor, I’m lucky I guess, in that my call and my job align really closely. I’m called to ministry, specifically ministry for those hurt by the church. And my work is just that, to do ministry. There’s really easily connected. John teaches us today that in order for us to do good work, it has to be fueled by a sense of call, which each of us has.
John’s desire to be a disciple, to follow God, it goes beyond a willingness to help. It goes deeper, to a sense of call. To be called kind of sounds like a big thing, and it is, but it’s also really simple.
To be called to something is simply an awareness of a purpose that is bigger than your own. Then how you act on it, that is discipleship. Call is the why behind us serving.
If you read our Flocknote this week, we highlighted some of the good work many of you all are doing, moments of service that myself and Rev. Jeanette can sense call in. From our liturgists, who take time to guide us in our services each week, to those who count our offerings, to those who take care of our kids, to those who take church members out to coffee or lunch to build relationships. Yes, these people I’m talking about are generous with their time, giving people, like each of you. But like John, these sometimes simple, sometimes more complex ways of serving, they are rooted in a bigger why. There’s a powerful call behind the ways we serve. It may be obvious to people, your why, or it could be something that takes more explanation.
Sometimes, it can be easy to forget about our call, when we are doing things to help, volunteering our time, doing tasks that feel insignificant or minute. But we learn from John the Baptist today, that everything we do when we serve, is an opportunity to reflect Jesus, to point others towards Jesus. That is the best way I’ve learned to understand call.
I want to encourage you this week, to look at what fuels the work you do.
Why do you bring snack to your grandchild’s soccer games?
Why do you greet people on Sunday mornings?
Why do you serve on boards?
Why do you welcome new people, and include them in the life of your community?
When John points out Jesus to his disciples, they go to talk to him. They ask him questions, and Jesus of course responds to them, with love and generosity. Jesus even takes them to where he was living, fully includes them in his life. One of the disciples, Andrew, was amazed by Jesus, by what he was able to see, thanks to the call of John, that he invited even more people to be a part of this discipleship work John was called to share. John was there, not only to do the work he did, baptize people and tell them the good news, but also to fuel that work with a bigger purpose, his God-given sense of call.
In the next week, Rev. Jeanette and I want to encourage you to look for your sense of call.
What drives your service?
What fuels the physical work you do?
Why does it matter to you?
Next week, we’ll come back and talk some more about our sense of call, and how it relates to the work we are doing here, at Mission Hills UMC.
Remember, Friends, that you have been called by God profoundly and beautifully. You are a beacon of light for those around you, uniquely gifted to point others towards Jesus in holy ways.
Let us pray.
God of grace and mercy, we give you thanks for the ways you call us to be bearers of your light and love in our world. Guide us to look for our call, and look toward our call, as a follower of your goodness and justice. In your name we pray, Amen.