Mark 1:16-20

Readings for this week February 11 – 15
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Day 1 – The Call to Follow

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Mark 1:16-17

Three simple words were all that Jesus needed to say to call others to follow him. He didn’t go into a big explanation of who he was and what his intentions were. He didn’t offer these fisherman a contract or a job description – certainly not a pension plan or a scheme of health care benefits. He called them to follow him, and based on what they may have already seen and heard Jesus saying and doing in and around the Jordan River, they decided to follow him.

Jesus says the same three words to us today. The relationship he calls us to have with him is an active one, it is mobile, it requires us to follow, to go where he goes and do what he did. We are called out of one thing, into something else, something new, something different. It’s about crossing a boundary – whether that boundary is across the road or across the world. The mission of Jesus calls us out of one thing and into something new: out of one lifestyle and into another – from fishing to following. The call of Jesus is a call to a new way of thinking, a new idea of what it truly means to follow. Jesus launched his public ministry with an announcement about how near God’s kingdom was, and how this kingdom was to be established through him. Something new was happening, a new way of life. A new community was being established. Jesus immediately called others to follow him into this new, transforming way of life.

Question to Consider
How was the call of God to you a call into something new and different?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, give me the faith and strength to follow you wherever you lead me, no matter where it may lead. Give me the trust and obedience the early disciples had when they responded to your call. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 2 – A Call to be Changed

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Mark 1:17

Jesus called a small group of fishermen to follow him: tough, rough, hard-working men used to labouring away in sometimes very extreme conditions. He saw them and immediately knew that they were the people he specifically wanted to have with him. Whatever other people thought of these two sets of brothers, however society viewed them, their occupation, their families, their backgrounds and skills, they were good enough for Jesus. He called them as they were, and simply said, “Follow me.” But he also hinted that following him would mean that these fishermen would be changed, and that he, Jesus, would be the one to effect that change in them. “I will make you fishers of men” – not just a play on words but a promise that the people they were then, at the time of Jesus’ call, is not the people they would remain. Jesus had not just a task in mind, but also the transformation required in order to fit the disciples for that task.

It is us, as and where we are, that Jesus calls. He knows us and is joyously happy to call us to follow him. He knows everything about us, good and bad, and still calls us to himself. We do not need to worry about whether we are good enough or up to the task because we will be changed as we follow and take up the mission of Jesus for ourselves. The call is a call to follow and be changed. As 2 Timothy 2:21 says, “If any one purifies himself from what is ignoble, then he will be a vessel for noble use, consecrated and useful to the master of the house, ready for any good work.” If we answer the call and are obedient and faithful to the one who calls us, then transformation – sometimes painful, always beneficial – is inevitable, to be welcomed as a sign of God’s continuing love for us.

Questions to Consider
How has God been transforming you lately? How has this felt?

Prayer
Gracious God, you love me as I am yet love me too much to let me stay as I am. Help me trust in your transforming power in my life. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 3 – God Knows Who He is Calling

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Mark 1:18-20

Sometimes we look at the disciples and wonder what on earth Jesus was thinking. What did he see in this ragged group of fishermen that made him think that the renewed community of God’s people would start with, and be carried on by, these guys? As time went on and he called others to follow him, and as others gathered around him and travelled with him, was he seeing things that others couldn’t? So many times in the gospels the behaviour of the disciples makes us shake our heads in exasperation or disbelief at how often they fail to understand what seems so blatantly obvious. We think we would be better, we would see clearer – and sooner – and not make the same mistakes. But then, one thought following another, we wonder at our ability, we stumble on our imperfections and desires, and we wonder: why on earth has God chosen me, called me?

God has prior knowledge of who we are and who we can be. After all, he is our creator, the one who knows each of us more intimately than we know ourselves. He knows what we need and what we can do, and what potential lies within us. Whether we think we are suited to what he calls us to is not the point. God has a purpose and a mission and he invites us to journey with him, trusting him even though we are not sure of the destination and not sure of our ability to get there. We are called to follow and obey, to go where he directs us, regardless of how tough the task is. It’s okay to be afraid, but we shouldn’t let that stop us. We are called to trust that God knows best.

Question to Consider
What can make us think we are not worthy of God’s call?

Prayer
Lord God, help me remember that you have called me and you have a place and a task for me, regardless of my failings and shortcomings. Help me learn to trust your call of me more and more each day. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 4 – Being Pruned

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – John 15:1-8

“I can prune roses. Someone told me how when I was young and I’ve never forgotten. In fact, I not only know how to itself, I even know why (well, more or less). A rose bush left to itself, will get straggly and tangled, and grow in on itself. It will produce quite a lot of not-so-good roses rather than a smaller number of splendid ones. It will, quite literally, get in its own light. It needs help to grow in the right directions and to the right ends. So you prune it to stop it wasting its energy and being unproductive. You cut out, particularly, the parts of the plant that are growing inwards and getting tangled up. You encourage the shoots that are growing outwards, toward the light. You prune the rose, in other words, to help it to be its true self.

As far as I understand it, more or less the same thing works with vines…[V]ines, too, need to focus their energy on producing good quality grapes, rather than lots of second-rate ones. Vines, too, need to grow towards the light rather than getting in a tangled mass. Left to themselves, they produce a lot of superfluous growth which must be cut away if the vine is truly to be what it’s capable of.

The English language doesn’t let us catch the flavour of what John writes here. The word he uses for ‘prune’ in verse 2 is unusual, and is very like the word for ‘clean’ or ‘pure’ in the next verse. That is why he’s used it here: he wants us to link the ‘pruning’ of the vine with the ‘clean’ state of the disciples. They have already been pruned, though no doubt there is more of it to come…They have already borne fruit; they must now expect more pruning, so that they can bear more fruit.”

N.T. Wright, John for Everyone: Part Two, pp.69-70

Question to Consider
What are your thoughts on how God has/is pruning you?

Prayer
Loving Lord, please give me the strength to offer myself for your pruning. Cut away the things that inhibit my growth, that turn me inwards on myself and away from others. Transform me as you will. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 5 – Tuning in To Each Other

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Ephesians 2:19-22

Responding to the call and being transformed – pruned, shaped, moulded – into the people God plans for us to be is not the end of the story. It is no good God calling a group of people to be his people and be his hands and feet in his world, if everyone is pulling away from each other, ignoring their fellow co-workers, and running off to do their own thing, heedless of any and all others who have also responded to the call of God. Jesus called a community into being around him. He expected them to love each other, to love others, and to work and follow him together. A lot of his time was spent teaching them how to do this and impressing on them the importance of always remembering that he has called a people.

We need to learn how to ‘tune in’ to each other. Part of God’s transformation of ourselves as individuals (and even this limited view of transformation never happens in isolation from others) involves pruning and shaping us to fit with others. Thankfully, as in all things, God does not leave us to our own devices on this one. On our own, unity and harmony of purpose would be incredibly short-lived, if not impossible to achieve. But through the Spirit of God we are also shaped together and transformed into the community of God’s people, working, sharing, grieving, laughing, worshiping and growing and changing together. We must be considerate of others and allow them to be agents of God’s changing us and true co-workers for the kingdom.

Questions to Consider
How do we ‘tune in’ to each other? How are you being transformed through those around you? How is unity being built?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, bind us together as one people in you. Help us do away with our jealousies and hurts and focus on your son, the one into whose likeness we are being transformed. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)