Meetings, meetings, and meetings! That seem to be a mantra of many of us. Conference planning meeting, cheer committee meeting, Cultural Committee meeting, Church council meeting, Scandinavian Service meeting, kitchen committee meeting, High school Soccer Booster meeting. I am quite sure if you asked our boys what the main thing my job consisted off, they would answer: “Mom writes on the computer, talks on phone and have meetings. Lots of meetings!” Thank God, there are many other things you do as a pastor, but meetings do take up quite a bit of time. Not only for me – but for most modern people.
You do know the old joke about How many Lutherans it takes to change a light bulb? - We appoint a committee to study the issue and report back at the next meeting… but we also acknowledge that it is, rather by faith, not by our own efforts that we truly see, and that our own works cannot fully justify us in the presence of our Lord… so of course it is still dark… and as Lutherans we really don’t believe in change anyways!
Meetings, meetings, meetings. Agendas, reports, and debates. It sometimes can be a little bit too much! Sometimes I think that Paradise must be a place with no meetings! That is meetings sitting around a tale for hours, following a strict agenda and drinking coffee. Off Crouse I do hope and believe that there will be meetings in Paradise – but hopefully a different kind of meetings. I hope and believe that there will be lots of meetings in Paradise, but not with agendas and reports, but meetings filled with presence, surprise, inspiration, change and love. Just like those kinds of meetings here on earth are those kinds of encounters that truly makes our life worth living.
Meetings that truly can be like a divine glimpse of eternity and grace.
Meetings that can truly change our lives.
Meetings that can truly shake our core and ignite our hearts.
Meetings like that, encounters like that, happens when we get to talk with a stranger for the very first time only to realize that we have some much in common.
Meetings and encounters like that, happens when we suddenly really meet and talk with somebody we have known for years but never talked to and met as a friend.
Meetings and encounters like that, happens when we are totally pushed or pulled out of our comfort zone. Maybe life has been like a long straight road, where everting was easy and planned, a then suddenly that encounter seemed like a crash – that crash can be filed with heartbeat and love, but it can also be filled with sweat and fear.
You can meet a person who attacks you – physically or verbally. You can meet a person who gives you wounds and scars and burdens to carry.
You can meet love. To fall in love is one of the most powerful meetings of two people. Life will never be the same after meeting him or her.
Not matter how and where, those meetings are the work of God. Meetings that will expand our horizon and change our perspectives. Meetings that might change our path and make it more complicated, but maybe even richer.
It is in these spaces in between me and the other that the important meetings are. That is where life is. Life is never just my life, but the life that is made up by meetings, encounters, talks, walks and hugs. Meetings can make us go out there and do something, - meetings can truly change our paths and directions.
To meet God is like that. In these spaces, in between us and God that is where true life and faith begins. When God comes to us, meets us, and moves us.
Today’s Gospel is about a very important meeting and encounter. A life changing moment. A meeting between, 4 fishermen and Jesus. 2 set of brothers: Simon Peter and Andrew. James and John. Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John had planned their lives or they had been planned for them by traditions, family, intentions, and circumstances.
They were fishermen. Their lives were to get up early – in fact in the middle of the dark night. To get up, set the boats in the lake, go fishing, set their nets, pull their catch, sail back to the shore, unload and clean the fish, clean the nets, sell the fish, and then go home to their family to fulfill their duties as sons, fathers, and providers.
But then it happened. This meeting. This encounter. This moment.
A meeting that truly did pull everything that they were rooted in. Did change everting they had planned and believed in. They met God in the form of Jesus.
And this meeting, this encounter made the 4 fishermen change their paths and lives. They left the life as they knew it – and followed Jesus as he called them.
The first step is always the hardest and the most important. The first step did leave their boats, nets and lives behind them… and they did not look back. They took the first step.
We have all experiences first steps like that:
When we have finally walked up to or stood up to someone and aid enough is enough.
When we have burned our bridges and ties and take the first step into unknown territories.
When we said the words for the first time and had to face them: when we said “I love you”, “I am leaving you”, “I do not agree”, “I support you” and finally taking a stand and making a choice that would mark a new path.
The four fishermen had been living ordinary lives, unnoticed and unremarkable, but now at that moment their lives and steps were noticed and so remarkable that we still talk about them today!
Jesus did not promise them that their path would be easy and their lives would be happy – but he promised that he would always be with them as they were going fishing!
That meeting happened 2000 years ago, in a country and a time far far from here. But meetings like this still happens. Jesus still comes among us, meets us, calls us, and touches us, moves us to dare to take that first step.
Jesus meets us in his words, in his calling, in his sacraments of water, wine, and bread, in his presence.
Jesus meets us in our encounters with people who change our path, in moments of grandeur or meaning, in movements of love and hope, in moments of surprises and first steps.
As Martin Luther King Jr said:
“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
Just a s the four fishermen did, so we too must take the first steps in our lives, in our choice and in our challenges. Making this our life and our Christian path! Amen