Sermons 2008
They heard the Lord call, Epiphany 3A, 20 Jan 2008, Matthew 4:12-23

Home | Light and Love, Christmas 1B , 28 December 2008, John 1:1-18 | The light and the darkness, Christmas Day, 25 December 2008, John 1:1-14 | What would you see? Christmas Eve, 24 December 2008, Luke 2:1-20 | What did you say? Advent 3B, 14 December 2008, John 1:6-8. 19-28 | A refining fire, Advent 2B, 7 Dec 2008, Mark 1:1-8 | Alert, alert! Advent 1B, 30 November 2008, Mark 13:24-37 | Where will we stand: sheep or goats? Proper 29A 2008, 23 November 2008, Matthew 25: 31-46 | The talents to...? Proper 28A, 16 November 2008, Matthew 25:14-30 | Choose this day, Proper 27A, 9 November 2008, Joshua 24:14-25; Matthew 25:1-13 | All Saints A, 2 November 2008, Matthew 5:1-12; 23:1-12 | Holy or not? Proper 25A, 26 October 2008, Matthew 22:34-46 | Things: God's or Caesar's? Proper 24A, 19 October 2008, Matthew 22:15-22 | The wedding and the allegory, Proper 23A, 12 October 2008, Matthew 22:1-14 | The vineyard and the rock, Proper 22A. 5 October 2008, Matthew 21:33-46 | Deference and disobedience, Proper 21A, 28 September 2008, Exodus 17:1-7; Matthew 21:23-32 | Be content, Proper 20A , 21 September 2008, Matthew 20:1-16 | Only one true church? Proper 18A, 7 September 1008, Matthew 18:15-20 | Be content! Proper 20A, 21 September 2008, Matthew 22:1-16 | Be content! Proper 20A, 21 September 2008, Matthew 20:1-16 | Holy Name and Holy Ground, Proper 17A, Exodus 3:1-15; Matthew 16:21-28 | What's in a name? Proper 16A, 24 August 2008, Matthew 16:13-20 | Dogs? Proper 15A, 17 August 2008, Matthew 15:10-28 | Time to get out of the boat, Proper 14A, 10 August 2008, Matthew 14:22-33 | Who, me? Proper 13A, 3 August 2008, Matthew 14:13-21 | LIKE what? Proper 12A, 27 July 2008, Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 | Good seed, bad seed, Proper 11A , 20 July 2008, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 | Watch the Farmer, Proper 10A, 13 July 2009, Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 | Easy Yoke? Proper 9A 2008, 6 July 2008, Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 | Baptism of David William and Anne Tyler, Proper 8A, 29 June 2008 | The Twelve or the Dirty Dozen? Proper 6A, 15 June 2008, Matthew 9:35-10:15 | Jesus likes sinners?, Proper 5A, 8 June 2008, Matthew 9:9-13 | Lawlessness or not? Pentecost 3A, Proper 4A, 1 June 2008, Matthew 7:21-29 | What do you mean, if? Easter 6A, 27 April 2008, John 14:15-21 | Comforting words and St Thomas, Easter 5A, 20 April 2008, John 14:1-14 | Ordinary good shepherds, Easter 4A 2008, 13 April 2008, John 10:1-10 | Light for clarity, Easter 3A, 6 April 2008, Luke 24:13-35 | "Blessed are those who....", Easter 2A, 30 March 2008, John 20:19-31 | Hallelujah! He's alive! Easter Sunday A, 23 March 2008, John 20:1-18 | He had it all, Palm Sunday A, 16 March 2008, Matthew 26:14-27:54 | Lazarus: Waiting for Jesus, Lent 5A, 9 March 2008, John 11:1-45 | Miracles Physical and Spiritual, Lent 4A, 2 March 2008, John 9:1-41 | Living Water, Lent 3A, 24 February 2008, John 4:5-42 | God's unselfish love, Lent 2A, 17 February 2008, John 3:1-17 | Temptation, Lent 1A, 10 February 2008 | Ash Wednesday, 6 February 2008, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 | They heard the Lord call, Epiphany 3A, 20 Jan 2008, Matthew 4:12-23 | Come and See! Epiphany 2A, 20 January 2008, John 1: 29-42 | Remember Your Baptism? Epiphany 1A, 13 January 2008, Matthew 3:13-17 | We Three Kings, The Epiphany, 6 January 2008, Matthew 2:1-12

Epiphany 3A, 2008 Matthew 4:12-23

During my first short career as the Sunday School teacher of eighth grade boys, I was persuaded against my better judgement to accompany the Pohick Church Youth Group to a retreat weekend at Shrinemont. I remember the singing around the campfire, especially one song. I remember the refrain to that song very vividly: “I heard the Lord call my name; listen again and you’ll hear the same.”

A century ago, on an Indian reservation, there lived a man named White Plume, who was a deacon in the Episcopal Church. He had heard a call to the deacon’s "special ministry of servanthood" sometime during the early 1900's and he remained a perpetual deacon. His ministry was spent serving his people on the reservation and this required much traveling over great distances. In those days there were no automobiles. Reservation Indians relied on shank’s mare, horseback and wagon for their transportation.

By the early 1900's people on the reservation were trying to make a living as farmers, before tractors were readily available on the reservation.

The government had some years earlier instituted a policy of assimilation for Indian people. One part of this policy required that the people convert o Christianity. As a result many were baptized and became Christians. The old ceremonies had gone underground. But a good number of these individuals never experienced full or sincere conversion and would say they were Christians only to keep out of trouble. But there were those who were truly filled with the Holy Spirit and had undergone full conversion. White Plume was one such individual.

Some time after his ordination, White Plume was called to live and preach on another part of the reservation. He hitched his team to the wagon, packing only the most personal and bare essentials. And loading up his family, he set out on his journey. He left behind his home and all that was familiar. It was said that he even left behind his livestock and that as he was rolling down the road in the wagon his remaining animals were following him. They eventually gave up the chase.

The government's policies were designed to make the Native American Indians like the rest of Americans. For some tribes this transition was traumatic. In less than 50 years they went from being nomadic hunter warrior societies to living in log houses on tracts of land and trying to make a living as settled, docile farmers. They had to listen to the missionary teaching about Christianity. Sometimes, and perhaps many times, people did have true conversion experiences. (1)

White Plume's life prior to being called by God into the ministry was a perfect example of how the policy of assimilation could be successful. He was settled, educated, and a Christian. In comparison to most of his fellow tribesmen, he was prosperous and successful as a farmer. But what is remarkable in this account is that, given the time and place, White Plume left everything and answered God's call. He left behind his house, his personal belongings, his animals, and the land he tilled.

This story is much like the one in today's Gospel: As Jesus was walking along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, he "saw" two fishermen, Simon and Andrew, who were brothers. He said to them, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men." They immediately dropped all that they were doing and left with him. As Jesus. Andrew, and John went walking along they "saw" two more brothers, James and John, and Jesus again "called them." And they, too, responded immediately.

With today's Gospel reading, we begin to see Jesus as the disciples saw him. They knew of no other way to describe Jesus, or to relate the earth-shaking effect his life had on theirs, than to recount their experiences with Jesus. Accordingly, their account begins where the experience began. The disciples begin their story with Jesus' first words to them: "Follow me." And that they did.

Jesus has come to God's people with the same straight-forward invitation from that day to this. Through the centuries, Jesus has called all sorts and conditions of people. Jesus called a rich young man named Augustine and a rich man's son whose name was Francis. He called a medieval noblewoman later known as Julian of Norwich. Jesus called a German pastor named Dietrich Bonhoeffer, martyred in 1945, an Albanian nun whom we knew as Mother Teresa, and a young man at Virginia Seminary martyred in the American South before his graduation and ordination. Each of them was aware of the hazards involved and yet they put aside what they were doing and answered Jesus' call. They followed, and their lives and some of their deaths stand in monumental witness to the irresistible power of God's Love calling to us.

For many, perhaps most of us, our own calling is at times a slow and deliberate response, taking months, perhaps years before we could say, “We heard the Lord call our name; when we listened again, we heard the same.”


1. As told by The Rev. Robert W. Two Bulls is associate rector of St. George's Episcopal Church in La Canada, CA, and Missioner for Indian Ministries in the Diocese of Los Angeles.