Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him. [NRSV]
This is always a tricky time to balance safety and closing the church for programs, activities and especially for worship. One of the challenges of our UMC slogan since the 1990s has been closing for weather conditions when we claim we have “open hearts, open minds, open doors.” No matter the common sense of being safe and off icy roads, we communicate a conflicting message: We Urgently want you to comes join us, just Not today when the weather is bad.
It is not only in inclement weather but in many conversations and situations that we “think” with our minds, welcome, friendly, open and inviting and yet the words and actions/or in-actions we witness closed, divided, judged and not welcomed.
It is vital to hear Mark’s account of Jesus beginning his ministry with words and witness of invitation and urgency.
The Urgency of believing the Good News
- We believe the opportunity to help others believe is imminently limited.
- We believe any amount of time not believing the Good News is time lost or wasted.
- We might believe it’s important but not urgent or that if it were an urgent situation we might help in a pinch.
- We believe there is plenty of time to share the Good News, and if we don’t help others then someone else will or they will figure it for themselves.
Urgency: importance requiring swift action.
Jesus begins his ministry with a call for people to find God was near, make a spiritual change in their lives and believe God is working to love, transform and fulfil our lives.
Two Usual Tracks
Urgency through repetition:
Were you aware that it takes viewing the same commercial 16 times for us to become motivated to consider buying or using a product or service were previously not interested or aware existed? That doesn’t mean after watching the same commercial 16 times we automatically buy the product, but after that much repetition, we begin to make an internal action toward a new product. We are 50% likely to try, talk about, take some action to learn more about a product or service. Advertising creates a sense of urgency or importance.
Urgency transformed through repentance
Before and After stories. This is my life before Jesus, and this is my life after. For those who grow up in in the faith and in the church, we have the repetition model. For those who come to the church later have a more clear before and after witness.
EITHER MODEL, Jesus is the one describing the Good News as something IMPORTANT and something REQUIRING SWIFT ACTION.
BUT… It is hard to look back 2000 plus years and say, you need to be in a hurry to give your life to Jesus. A God who works in billions of years starts with a message of urgency..Mark 1:14-20
..NOW is the time,
The cooling of the sun and the increase of earthquakes, volcanoes and colder winters will be the new norm for the next thirty years. Some would say these are signs of the end times/others would say we are in a long cooling cycle of the sun.
The “Now is the time” perspective is that whether our time is long or short, the weather is not going to be pleasant. (Now is the time to invest in a heavier coat!)
Mark account of Jesus’s Marketing Message: is about the second type of URGENCY:
How long do we let someone stand in the cold before we open the door and convince them it is better inside the house than out?
How long do we let folks run around in with fear, emptiness, loneliness, grief, grudge, judgment or any other reason, when we know that in this fellowship, in this word, in this body that God is near, God is here!
We who have found Christ, or We who have known Christ all these years, look out the windows and doors and see a hurting, searching, failing, struggling, divided-world and we are called to invite people to believe in Jesus.
Believe, Now! Not because the end is near, rather because
- you don’t have to be alone
- you don’t have to be afraid
- you don’t have to be divided
- you don’t have to be correct
- you don’t have to be perfect
- you don’t have to be hungry
- you don’t have to be captive
- you don’t have to be a stranger
- you don’t have to be lost
- you don’t have to be cold
..but you do need to come to Jesus
- This is what is urgently needed.
- This is what is Good: God so loves us that he gives us Jesus
- This is what is Good: Jesus died for our sin/brokenness/failures and pride/
- He emptied himself to fill us with a new chance a life with God and all God’s people.
- Don’t stand out in the cold, come inside
- Let the cold weather be your opportunity to invite someone into the fellowship.. into the church, into your spiritual journey- travel together