Notes from the Vicar of Grace

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Bill Harper

Dear Friends--

I'm a follower.


Really. I am a follower. Or I want to be. I know I talk about this often enough, and I wrestle continuously with what it means, but here is just the simple truth: I want to be known as a follower of Jesus of Nazareth. In an interview this week I was asked if I "considered myself a practicing Christian" and of course I said "yes," but then I instantly tried to explain and clarify what that means to me. Yes, I said, all I'm doing is practicing.  Trying to be a Christian. But then
I was asked "what does it mean to be a Christian?" And shoot, I thought, here we go-down that slippery slope of definition and doctrine. And I hate that downhill ride. Really, I just hate it. So I said: "I'm just trying to be a follower of Jesus." And I am.


Of course we can spend lots of time and heartfelt energy trying to define "follow" and "Jesus" and we can bury our souls in the quest for definition and precision. But I don't want to. Not anymore. It's just not helpful. And I could (and do) spend time trying to figure out what it means to lead, and be an effective, creative leader of followers. Sure-I actually could lead better. But again, I think that what I want is to be a follower among followers-sharing a commitment to follow. Follow Jesus. And again, don't ask me to define that, because I won't.


Last Sunday we heard the story of John the Baptist pointing to Jesus and saying "he's the one. Follow him." And two of John's followers left John's side to follow Jesus. Just like that. Imagine that happening. And when they asked Jesus where he was going, and where he was staying, he simply said "come and see." As in "follow." So they did. And the next day, as we'll hear in this Sunday's story, Jesus passed by those frustrated fishermen sitting in their boats and up they went and followed. Again, think about it: all the familiar pieces of their lives left behind; everything that was safe, even if it was an empty safety net, just left; they drop what they have, and what they don't have, and they go. They follow. There is nothing certain or known or guaranteed. And certainly nothing is defined. I want that courage. Or at least that intention and willingness to go.


So I'll leave you-us-with three links you could follow.  Just for inspiration.  Take a moment
to sit, right where you are, and imagine yourself as a follower. And then be one.


>> First, a short preview of Sunday's Gospel lesson. Short and easy. Sort of.


>>Next, a powerful reflection on last Sunday's lesson. Longer. Tough visuals. Great, great song.


>> Finally, a visual sermon of sorts, reminding us that following is an act of affirmation-of saying yes.


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