Service & Sermon

This morning we will be sharing our worship via Facebook live at  The video will be uploaded here subsequent to the service.   


Pastor Laurie's sermon is below:

Third Sunday after the Epiphany – 01.24.21

Today’s gospel reading is familiar, so familiar that we sometimes focus only on
the call of the four men to leave their ordinary occupation of fishing and follow Jesus.
That was a momentous decision which marked a turning point in their lives. Anytime we
are asked to leave what is familiar, what we feel confident doing - in their case the job
that supported their families - it is a big deal. Peter, Andrew, James, and John were
called by Jesus to leave their boats and nets for the sake of the kingdom of God.
The concept of the kingdom of God is elusive. Jesus talked about it in parables
and used everyday examples to describe its contagious energy. It isn’t a geographical
place like a country or even a group of people like the church. It is better described as a
new state of mind that empowers a new way of life. It grows through relationships in
which people experience caring about one another and loving God. Jesus was
enthusiastic about inviting people into that new way of life. He showed what it looked
like through his interactions with others and he taught them to pray for its coming. He
knew that once people experienced it, they would never want to give it up.
There is another aspect to this gospel story, and that is the timing. Why did Jesus
choose to begin his proclamation of the kingdom and his invitations to people to follow
him at this time? John the Baptizer had discerned when he was supposed to begin his
prophetic work by paying attention to the signs of the world around him. He recognized
the call of God; he understood the urgency of the prophetic message and he delivered
it. Prophetic ministry is not easy. Prophets are often not popular, at least not with those
who want to maintain the status quo. Our world always needs prophetic voices, but it
comes with a cost. John paid that price, he was arrested and then killed.

Jesus also discerned his call to action by paying attention to the signs of the
world around him. He began his ministry after John was put in prison. Mark emphasizes
that Jesus was led by the Spirit of God, and it was the Spirit who inspired him to
proclaim that a new moment in history had arrived. He returned to Galilee, the area
where he grew up, and proclaimed, “the time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God has come
near…” The Kairos moment had arrived – the opportune time, a moment in human
history when God’s activity on earth reaches a peak. Jesus must have been able to
convey the enthusiasm he felt about this opportunity to share the good news because
people responded to his call to repent and believe, just as they had responded to John
the Baptizer. There was an irresistible sense of joy and hope that led people to accept
the invitation to a new way of life.
Everyone who heard Jesus was called to recognize this Kairos moment and
decide whether they would accept his invitation to listen, learn and believe the message
he brought. Jesus did this in public, inviting the ordinary people in the countryside, in the
villages and even in the city of Jerusalem. There were particular people who he invited
to give of themselves so completely that they would abandon their ordinary lives and
accompany him on his journey.
The kingdom of God is just as near today as it was when Jonah became a
resistant but ultimately effective prophet to the people of Nineveh. It is as near as when
Jesus came to Galilee and preached about it. We are called today to repent and
believe. It is time to recognize our Kairos moment and decide if we will accept the
invitation. In furthering Christ’s mission, we all share in the duty of paying attention to
the signs of the world around us, interpreting them in the light of the Gospel, and

discerning what God is calling us to do. We take Jesus’ preaching, and we apply it to
the world we find ourselves living in now.
In “Laudato Si”, or “Care for Our Common Home”, Pope Francis called us to
“review those questions which are troubling us today and which we can no longer
sweep under the carpet.” He said that by doing this we “dare to turn what is happening
in the world into our own personal suffering and thus discover what each of us can do
about it.”
We are privileged to live in a democracy that is governed by a constitution. In a
democracy there are competing political parties which often have policy differences.
That is normal and healthy. Regardless of our political affiliation, as faithful Christians,
and loyal Americans we should be united in condemning acts of violence and in working
together for unity. God calls us to pray for and to stand up for, justice and peace.
Our gospel for today sums up the whole Gospel message and invites us to
become part of it. This is our Kairos moment, the only moment of history that we have,
and it is in our hands. The Kairos time of fulfillment that began with the ministry of Jesus
continues and everyone is invited to respond to it and enter a new way of life. We
should be so influenced by the teaching of Jesus that we leave all else behind. If we
want to understand and implement Jesus’ vision today, we must pause from our busy
lives and take time to contemplate reality, to be attentive to the signs of the times.
We need to cultivate the “serene attentiveness” that Pope Francis speaks of and
respond with gratitude to God. Only then can we perceive God’s intentions for us and
the world. We may be able to implement the vision and follow the way of life envisioned

by Jesus in our current lives, or we may be called to leave the ordinary, to move away
from what seems predictable and safe and embrace a new life. Not everyone is called
to leave their current situation, but all of us are called to discern God’s will and respond
to our Kairos moment. Amen.


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