Signing On

Passing along the Sea of Galilee, Jesus saw Simon and Andrew casting their nets into the sea. ‘Follow me,’ he said. They left their nets behind and followed him. Then he saw James and John, and he called them. They left their father Zebedee, standing in a boat, and followed him. (from Mk 1:16-20)

The church was born through this summons to leave home, work, and community behind. This is unexpected; most people of faith find meaning within the homes, jobs, and communities they already inhabit. They look to the church to promote stability and reliability. Its nature is reassuringly seen in buildings (which hopefully are not on the move!), in a set of unchanging values and beliefs, and a community that has a shared history.

Recently, something similar to the disruption caused by Jesus’ summons found its way to me. I left behind home and community in Gordon to find a new home, community and ministry at Revesby. (I acknowledge gratefully that I was given more details than Jesus’ followers, who were issued with no plan, no map, no vision statement, no guarantees, just, ‘Follow me!’)

Everyone needs to find a home, a safe, secure place of belonging, and everyone needs to set out on journeys. Both are required.

The gospels portray Jesus as always being on the move, and without a home, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ (Luke 9:58)

This is provocative. At the very least, it highlights that followers of Jesus need to discover a balance between staying at home and journeying.

At Café church last Sunday evening, I introduced myself under the headings, ‘lost, found and lost-found.’ (By ‘lost-found’ I mean an ongoing mixture of both.) These headings give shape to a journey I’ve been on most of my life.

I find the word ‘journey’ a helpful metaphor. It facilitates incorporating changing views of faith, the world, and self into a coherent story.

The concept of a journey is also useful in thinking about the community of faith.

The Basis of Union says, ‘The Uniting Church affirms that it belongs to the people of God on the way to the promised end.’

This pledge derives from the spiritual truth that the fullness of God cannot be experienced in one place. It is achingly incomplete, with just a hint that more lies ahead.

We need to listen carefully for a new summons, one that will direct us onto a different pathway.

When Phyll and I moved to Newington, we moved from a spacious five bedroom house to a two bedroom unit. We had to throw out a lot of stuff!

It wasn’t easy, but it felt good to lessen our possessions.

Perhaps, there is a clue here – travel light!

At my induction, I signed on to lead and share this journey with you. (Again, many thanks for the beautiful service last Friday night that marked the beginning of this new road.)

I look forward to what this journey will bring.