Children’s Sermon: A Box of Lent

Bring a Lent box with Easter Eggs at the bottom.

Hi everyone! I’m so glad you are here today.

So today is the first Sunday of Lent! Can you say the word “Lent” with me? Lent! Very good. Lent is what we call a “season” of the church. And just like the seasons of “Spring, Fall, Summer, and Winter,” we have different “seasons” in the church too. And this 46 day long season began last Wednesday and continues all the way through Easter.

Now, I don’t know about you, but at my house, we usually store the things we need for each season in a box that we label. For example, I don’t need my snow shovel all year long. I only need it during what season? Winter. And in the summer, what kind of clothes do we wear that we don’t wear in winter? Shorts. Flip flops. I store those clothes in a box labeled “summer” so I know when to wear them.

So I brought my lent box! Let’s see what in it.

Go through the box. Pull out stuff we need during Lent. [Note: Build this stuff at the office!]
the book we’re studying
the Lenten devotion
a soup bowl because we’re having soup & studies
oil for a healing service
communion stuff because we do communion
something that’s purple because it’s our purple season
Bible because some read the bible more
Chocolate because some of us give up chocolate
Our worship book because some of us will go to church more
And then, buried at the bottom, is several Easter Eggs.

What’s this at the bottom? Easter Eggs. Easter is the day and season after the Lent so we won’t actually use these during Lent. But I keep them in my Lent box to remind us what we’re doing: this season is about preparing for Easter, preparing for when Jesus rose from the dead, preparing for when Jesus promised us that he is here with us, right now, whenever we gather. And this serves as a reminder that we need the season of Lent to really feel, experience, and be in awe of Easter. Lent is the season when we spend time growing our faith, spend time with Jesus and God, and spend time with the promise that Jesus is here; Jesus loves you; and Jesus will be with us, no matter what, forever.

Thank you for being here and I hope you have a blessed week.

Each week, I share a reflection for all children of God. The written manuscript serves as a springboard for what I do. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship on First Sunday in Lent, 2/18/2018.

Children’s Sermon: Color the Transfiguration

Transfiguration. Idea came from Worship With Children.

Hi everyone! I’m so glad you are here today.

So today is a special day in the church calendar that also has a special name. It’s called the Transfiguration. Can you say that word with me? Trans.Fig.Ur.A.Tion. Right! Good job. It’s a big word with lots of syllables and we usually don’t use that word on any other day of the year except for today. So I want to talk about that word with you a bit.

Bring out 3 sheets with – Trans. Figur. Ation. On it.

Here’s the word! And there are two parts of the word that are importants. The first part, “Trans,” means change. The second part, “figur,” means figure – which is a shape or form. When we put these two parts together – trans and figure – “change” and “shape/form” – that means today is about someone or something changing their shape and form.

So let’s stand up. And let’s think about the ways we can change our shape and form.

Now, that’s a bit hard. We’re people. We all look like people. Some of us might be taller or shorter or have more hair or less – but we’re all people. But there are ways we can have fun to change our form.

For example – we could become a letter. Stick your hands up and out to make a Y. Let’s do this! What letter do we look like? Y. Right! And what letter is this? Make an M. and what letter is this? C. And what letter is this? A. Y M C A. Great job. Now I know who to recruit for my next Village People cover band.

So we can use our arms to change our body. We can also form fun shape. Let’s bend and be like a ball. Squat and be a ball. We can stand on one foot, put our arms out like a bird, and we can look like a flamingo. Do that. We can, by using our body and our imagination, transfigure ourselves into new shapes.

And using our imagination is important. When we listen to these stories from the bible and Jesus, God wants us to use our imagination to visualize the story. So I want you, today, to use your imagination too. When you hear me share the story about Jesus, I want you to try and draw what you think the story looks like. And I’m going to give your crayons, a clipboard, and paper, to draw it. You might need to ask your parents to remember it – and you might need awhile to draw it – but I want you to take your time, imagine the story, and then share with me at the end of the service your picture if you are done.

Because today’s story about Jesus is a story that we don’t really have to explain. Instead, it’s a story that is meant to be experienced. And that’s why God gives each of us an imagination to imagine and dream what Jesus means to us.

Thank you for being here and I hope you have a blessed week.

Each week, I share a reflection for all children of God. The written manuscript serves as a springboard for what I do. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship on Transfiguration Sunday, 2/11/2018.

Lifted Up. Power, Expectations, and #metoo

As soon as [Jesus and the disciples] left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

Mark 1:29-39

My sermon from the 5th Sunday after Epiphany (February 4, 2018) on Mark 1:29-39. Listen to the recording at the bottom of the page or read my manuscript below.


I want to ask you a question: what did you do to prepare yourself to hear scripture today? I’ll be honest and say that sometimes, when I am in the pews, I do nothing to prepare myself for any scripture readings. Some days, just being here feels like it’s all I need to do. I flip open the bulletin, look at the words, and wait for an idea or a phrase or a feeling to jump out at me. Being this kind of passive participant with the Bible is sometimes exactly what we’re supposed to do. But there are more active ways to get ourselves ready to hear God’s word. Over the years, I’ve used a few tricks that might help all of us be a little more engaged with the text. We can, for example, choose to close our bulletin and focus on hearing the words instead of reading them. We can say a quick prayer, asking God to reveal to us what God already knows we need. We can also try to close our ears, mentally blocking out the tone and inflections used by the person reading out loud so that we can have a very personal reading of the text. And if none of those options fit our worship style, we can do something else, something that I like to call the eyebrow test. The first thing we do in the eyebrow test is relax our face. We want our eyebrows and eyes to be free to react to anything that we read or hear. And then, while the text is being read, we pay attention to what our eyes and eyebrows do. If we roll our eyes, blink hard, or raise one eyebrow, that part of the text might be what the Holy Spirit wants us to focus on. So looking back at this reading from Mark, what part of this text caused your eyebrows to move?

For me, my eyebrows went up at verse 33. Jesus heals Simon’s mother-in-law and the first thing she does is serve the men around her. Now, that might not have been the part of the text that you noticed. But when I shared this text with my colleagues and friends, Simon’s mother-in-law made a lot of eyebrows move. We talked about why that was and a movement happening in our culture right now kept coming up. In this moment when #metoo is making an impact in many different areas of our society, our expectations of ourselves and others are being confronted. There was an expectation for Simon’s mother-in-law to serve and so she did. But expectations can be problematic. It was expected, that if you worked in certain corporate offices or professions or fields – you would be harassed. And it was expected that you would accept that harassment if you wanted to further your career. It was expected that your boss or supervisor would make a pass at you and, if you reported it, you would be ignored or punished or your harasser would be reassigned to a place where no one would know what they had done. Survivors of harassment and assault would be stuck, not knowing who would believe them. Women in this situations banned together, alerting each other to the people and systems who enabled this hostile behavior to continue. It was expected, and through a collective silence accepted, that those with any kind of power would, and could, harass their subordinates. Not everyone did that but too many people, too many men, took advantage of their power over others to spiritually, physically, and emotionally hurt the people around them. It was power, not lust, that gave them what they want. And since these harassers were famous, rich, creative, or successful, they got away with what they did. Their victims couldn’t walk or run away because the rest of us, for years, chose not to believe those who were victimized. We assumed that those with power over others have a right to that power and we gave them the benefit of the doubt. But that benefit is usually all they need to harm so many others.

Now, most of us had never heard of #metoo until just a few months ago. But it’s a movement that was started over a decade ago by Tarana Burke, as a way to support women of color who experienced sexual harassment and abuse. By creating a space where a survivor could tell their story, #metoo has brought to light the kind of expectations women and some men were supposed to put up with. Even the church, through it’s #churchtoo movement, is being confronted by the stories of women and men, especially women clergy, who are regularly harassed and abused. This movement is making an impact in every part of our life where one person has power or authority over another. And it’s about time that it has. For too long, this kind of violence has been tolerated because it was expected. Too many people, through no fault of their own, have had to live through these experiences. Not every survivor will feel safe enough to share their story. But those who do, who know they will have to live with the consequences that come with sharing their stories in a world that doesn’t want to hear them, these women and some men have helped, I hope, to unravel our expectations of what power is supposed to do. And in that process, they are revealing the kind of power that Jesus exercises and shares.

Because power, as Jesus shows, always lifts the vulnerable up. Jesus, when he entered Simon’s house, is immediately told about Simon’s mother-in-law. She is ill, with a fever. And in an era without ibuprofen and Tylenol, she is, most likely, dying. Simon tells Jesus all of his mother in law’s hurts, pain, and suffering because she can’t do that herself. And that’s when Jesus goes to her. He sees her. He takes her by the hand and lifts her up before she is fully healed. Before Simon’s mother-in-law is made well, Jesus helps her up, giving her the dignity she deserves because she is made in the image of God. It’s only after her story is heard and believed, after she is given her dignity and status as a true human being, that she is made whole. Power, as Jesus shows us, doesn’t hurt the vulnerable. Those with power are called to lift others up, not because they and the vulnerable are perfect but because Jesus is.

And then, after all of that, Simon’s mother in law serves. And it’s okay to be uncomfortable with that. She still lived in a world full of expectations. But after this encounter with Jesus, she is now able to thrive. She now has new life. And giving others new life is just what Jesus does. This new life isn’t something Jesus only gave to people he encountered 2000 years ago. That new life is something Jesus has already given to each of us. Jesus made a promise to each of us in our baptism that his love isn’t defined by how others view us. And he renews this promise of new life to us every day, helping us to love others in the same way he love us. So that means we get to hear these #metoo stories and then change. We get to redo our expectations of what it means to be in relationships with people who we have power and authority over. We get to believe the women and men who are survivors, to lift them up, and then give them what they need to thrive. And we are asked look back into our own past, to admit the wrongs we did or saw or experienced, and to not let “that’s just the way it was” be our excuse. Because, in our baptism, we were shown a new way to live. And, in Jesus’ life, we were given a new image of what power in God’s world is supposed to look like. Power is suppose to serve and not make those without power serve us. But when power over others moved the world to nail Jesus to the Cross, God resurrected Jesus from the grave, because God will always has the final word. And in those moments when the behavior at work or at church or at school make our eyebrow go up or worse, Jesus calls all of us to lift the survivors of harassment and assault up, and to give them the dignity, mercy, and new life that Jesus has already given to us.



Children’s Sermon: Sit Up. Sit Down.

Super Bowl Sunday.

Hi everyone! I’m so glad you are here today.

So today is a big day in the world of sports. It’s the….Super Bowl! That’s right! If you watch football, and not everyone does and that’s ok, you’re going to see a lot of people using their bodies to play the game. And before the game, they are going to warmup and make sure they are ready to play. They’ll go out on the field and jog, stretch, and make sure their body feels warm. So I figured for today’s children sermon, why don’t we do the same? Let’s warm up but instead of warming up for a football game, let’s warm up for something that also uses our body: let’s warm up for a church service.

Okay, so are you ready? So copy what I do, ok? And we’re going to do many of the actions we do at church. So here we go. Stand up. Sit down. Stand up. Sit down. Stand up. Sit down. Stand up. Sit down. Stand up. Sit down!

Phew! That gets a little tiring, doesn’t it? It sometimes feels like all we do in church is stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down. We stand up at the beginning, sit down for the readings, stand up when we hear about Jesus, sit down when we read out prayers, stand up to sign, and sit down after communion. We actually use our body a lot during worship.

And we might not know why we do all this standing. We might want to sit down the entire time. But we don’t. We stand at very specific times – at those points when we are specifically being aware that someone special is here when we worship. Who can you guess that special person is? Jesus. Right! Jesus. It’s like when a friend comes over to our house or walks into the room we are in: we stand to welcome them. We stand to thank them for being here. We stand to invite them to come closer to us, to connect with us, to be with us. So when we stand during worship, we are welcoming Jesus into this place. Because when we gather together, Jesus promises to be here. And since Jesus is here, since Jesus shows up, we stand to welcome him, to say hello, and celebrate that his love, Spirit, and peace are here, in this space.

Thank you for being here and I hope you have a blessed week

Each week, I share a reflection for all children of God. The written manuscript serves as a springboard for what I do. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship on 5th Sunday After Epiphany, 2/4/2018.

Did God root for the Eagles? And what kind of Transformation does God offer us?

Some of my favorite Super Bowl memories are centered around the church. I remember a former bishop giving me a pep talk from the pulpit that the Denver Broncos would do well right before the Broncos lost 43-8. I remember someone sneaking in a prayer request for the NY Giants that surprised the assistant minister reading the prayers out loud. I remember swapping finger food recipes during coffee hour and arguing which puppy would be the MVP of the Puppy Bowl. When we think of the Super Bowl, church isn’t usually on our minds. We, instead, daydream about nachos, TV commercials, and silver plated trophies. Even though the Super Bowl doesn’t start until this evening, we might be focused on this big event that’s about to come. Today’s text from Isaiah 40:21-31, when read with football on the brain, might make us wonder if God is an Eagle’s fan because the faithful “shall mount up with wings like eagles.” I don’t know if God roots for the Eagles but I do know, like many of us, this text is focused on the next big thing that’s coming. But it isn’t focused on a human event rooted in the spectacle of competition. Isaiah is instead looking forward to the day when everything changes.

To hear the hope in this passage, we need to remember who Isaiah is talking to. Isaiah is surrounded by a community wondering if they should return to Jerusalem. For 70 years, the people have lived in Babylon (in modern day Iraq) after the Babylonian Empire destroyed their nation. Babylon was recently destroyed and their new emperor, Cyrus the Persian, wants to send the Israelites back home. But is Jerusalem still home? The people hearing these words grew up, started families, buried their loved ones, and created new homes in Babylon. They land of Israel is a place they only know about from stories told by their grandparents. They wonder if God, who appeared to be defeated by the armies of Babylon, is even paying attention to them anymore. Isaiah responded by inviting the community to remember who God is and what God has done for them. God is inviting them to return a homeland they do not know but one that gave their ancestors life. God isn’t asking them to go back to what they have experienced. God is, instead, inviting them into a new adventure to create a new home in the place God promises to be. God is giving them a new life.

Verse 31 is beautiful but our translation doesn’t capture what Isaiah is saying here. The faithful will not do their best impression of the Lord of Rings and mount eagles that will fly them into the sky. The faithful will, instead, be like a “molting eagle who exchanges old wings for new.” (Charles Aaron Jr, Working What God invites us to do is to look forward to our transformation into who God is calling us to be.

Each week, I write a reflection on one of our scripture readings for the week. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship Bulletin for the 5th Sunday After Epiphany, 2/04/2018.

Foodies: Negotiating Faith and Life.

If you don’t take a picture of every meal you eat, did it really exist?

I know this is a silly question but if you spend any time on social media, you know people love taking pictures of their food. And I love taking pictures of my food too. When I go to a great restaurant, I want to showcase their skill. When I visit a friend’s dinner party, I want to showcase their gifts of hospitality. And when my kids bake cookies, I want to share their hard work. But there’s are food events I don’t take pictures of. You won’t see a picture of lunch leftovers on my instagram and you won’t see the bag of chips I “accidentally” ate for dinner last night. One of the great things about social media is that we get to choose what we share online. But This is also a problem. We usually only share the experiences making us look like we are living our best life. When we showcase the meal at the trendy restaurant, we are doing more than highlighting the skills of the chefs. We’re also letting everyone know that we have the wealth, status, time, and “coolness” to visit this kind of place. 

Social Media is an obvious example of what we do constantly: we curate our own life. We choose what to share and what we don’t. We choose what to tell our friends and what to keep to ourselves. We make the choice to present a pleasant, happy, rich, and strong side of ourselves. We project a certain kind of image for others to see. And this image is developed through a constant negotiation with the world around us. We identify what the culture values and we try to match it. We negotiate what we can share and what we can’t. We struggle with a world that expects us to be a certain way. We want to be ourselves but this constant negotiation means we sometime see wonder if we can. 

In our reading from 1st Corinthians 8:1-13 today, Paul is writing to a community struggling with this kind of negotiation. In their world, animal sacrifices are normal and expected. Animals are killed in various religious temples and the meat is given, or sold, to people. Meat in the ancient world was extremely expensive. For many people, the meat from animals sacrifices was the only meat they would ever eat. Christianity, as we know it, wasn’t a major religion yet. The followers of Jesus in Corinth were small and the only ones in the area. They are learning how live, share, and curate their new Christian identity. And that, even today, isn’t an easy thing to do. 

Paul, I think, is inviting the community in Corinth to be intentional in everything they do. They need to know the truth about who they are, whose they are, and what their wider community is like. They need to know that people will watch what they are doing and they need to know why they do the things they do. They need to negotiate with their culture but always begin that negotiate in, and through, Jesus. Jesus, when he deals with the world, thinks of the other person first. And Jesus always offers a love that is rooted in a God who will never give up on the world.

Each week, I write a reflection on one of our scripture readings for the week. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship Bulletin for the 3rd Sunday After Epiphany, 1/28/2018.

Start With Love. From Pastor Marc – My Message for the Messenger, February 2018 Edition

It’s overwhelming picking the right Valentine’s Day card. Selecting the right card (or cards) needs to follow several rules. The card needs to match the personality of the person I’m giving it to but it also needs to be a card they would expect to come from me. The card needs to set the right tone, convey the right words, and show the person I am giving it to that they are valued. It needs to be funny but not too funny. It needs to be quirky but not too quirky. And it needs to fit my budget. These rules apply for any card I’m buying, including the cards my kids want to give out to their friends at school. I need to know my kids but also their classmates. I need to know what’s cool and I need to ask a bunch of questions. Are stickers still fun? Should they glow in the dark or be scratch and sniff? Are temporary tattoos worth giving out or should I stick with candy? Or many they should avoid candy because I throw out all the candy my kids bring home anyways? Choosing a Valentine’s Day card can be mentally exhausting.

But one thing that requires no effort this Valentine’s Day is the start of Lent. Valentine’s Day falls on Ash Wednesday this year. On a day when consumerism turns love into a commodity, the church will do something different. We’ll start our journey towards Easter by starting with what makes us who we are. We are human. We are mortal. We suffer, hurt each other, and shed tears. We laugh, celebrate, and bring each other joy and hope. We make mistakes. We are sinners. And we are, above all, made in God’s image. We are, through Jesus, thoroughly loved.

I know many people who love Valentine’s Day. I know many who don’t. Regardless of how you feel about Valentine’s Day, I invite you to take time on February 14 to remember your need for God and how, through Jesus, you are loved forever. Worship with us on February 14 at 7 pm. Keep an eye on our calendar for special ash-oriented events that day. And make a plan to participate in our Soup & Studies starting February 21. We will explore why God’s love for us matters and how, through scripture and Martin Luther’s On Freedom of a Christian, we can live out God’s love every day.

See you in church!
Pastor Marc

Children’s Sermon: Immediately

From Bring a pet-that-grows. Bring a bowl of water. Immediately.

Hi everyone! I’m so glad you are here today.

So I was looking at today’s story about Jesus and I was a little puzzled about what to share with you all today. I went online and looked at what other people were talking about and this one person brought up a word that it’s important for us to look at.

Our story from about Jesus is from a book called the “Gospel According to Mark.” We usually shorten the name for the book to just calling “Mark.” There are 4 books that we call gospels and all of them talk are a little different from each other – but we listen to all 4 of them because each one helps us understand Jesus a little better. Mark is shortest gospel and also the one that goes by the fastest. In fact, it’s as if the author of Mark wants us to read the gospel as fast as we can because Mark loves to use the word “Immediately.” “Immediately,” people follow Jesus. Immediately, Jesus heals someone. Immediately, some people get mad at Jesus. Etc etc. Everything is happening right away and very quickly. Everything, in Mark, happens immediately.

But sometimes our relationship, faith, and our understanding of God doesn’t happen as immediately as we like. And to show that, I’ve brought this with me. What is it? An alligator. But this isn’t just any alligator. It is an alligator that, when you put it in water, it grows. So let’s put it in water and watch it.

Watch the alligator. Is it growing? Not so fast.

So…do you think it’s growing? Does it look like it’s getting bigger? It’s hard to tell. We will have to check back later, in a few hours, to see it grow. It takes time for the alligator to grow – and you know what? It takes time for our faith to grow. It takes time for us to recognize and realize that God is part of our life. It takes time for us to notice that Jesus is always with us, even if we can’t see him or feel like maybe he’s not there. It takes time for us to learn to trust God and love God just as much as God loves us.

So sometimes, we need to be patient when it comes to faith, or church, or Jesus. Sometimes things aren’t going to feel as fast be as immediate as we want them to be.

But there is one thing that God gives us that happens right away – and that’s God’s love. That happens immediately. That happens always. And since God’s love comes to us, no matter what, we can take time and be patient, trusting that the more we hang out with Jesus, the more our faith will grow.

Thank you for being here and I hope you have a blessed week.

Each week, I share a reflection for all children of God. The written manuscript serves as a springboard for what I do. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship on 3rd Sunday After Epiphany, 1/21/2018.


Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.

Mark 1:14-20

My sermon from the 3rd Sunday after Epiphany (January 21, 2018) on Mark 1:14-20. Listen to the recording at the bottom of the page or read my manuscript below.


I want to start by saying something you might not agree with – but I honestly believe that Keanu Reeves might be one of the most talented actors of the last 25 years.

Or maybe I hold Keanu in such high regards because he was the star of the first movie I saw in a theater without my parents. The movie, of course, was Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. Bill and Ted are two lovable, if not very smart, teenagers from Southern California who travel through time in a phone booth. Keanu played Ted and I remember being impressed by his 90s slacker style, the hair that hung down and covered half his face, and the fact that he was really good at saying the word “whoa.” The movie is very silly and includes a scene where Bill and Ted recite song lyrics from the 80s hair-metal band Poison to try and convince St. Peter to let them into heaven. It’s a ridiculous film – but it’s my kind of ridiculous. And when my brother and I first saw it, we were in a run-down theater next to the low-rent mall and were literally the only people in the theater. We were kids and we received our own private screening of one of the most ridiculous films ever made. It was awesome and that’s how I met Keanu Reeves. He showed up unexpectedly in my pop culture life, and in the process, I became a fan of his for life. Now, I haven’t seen all of his films and I don’t seek out every interview he gives. But he’s a pop culture icon in my life and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. He’s made such connection with so many different kind of people that when a picture was posted online showing him sitting on a bench looking sad, literally everyone on the Internet created images and sent him messages trying to cheer him up. When he shows up in our lives, some of us see his work, hear his words, and our one-way connection with him just sort of happens. We become a fan. It’s hard to describe why we become fans. It seems like it’s something we just do. We becomes fans of famous people and not-famous people. We connect in this one-sided way with actors and musicians, and also with colleagues, friends, and even strangers. There are people in this world who we bond with instantly and without effort. And once that bond forms, once we are a fan of them, a part of us, a part of our reality, a part of what we think is possible – actually changes.
And that change of reality is part of what Mark is getting at today. Jesus, at the start of this gospel, keeps showing up in unexpected places. He goes to see John the Baptist and is baptized in the River Jordan. Jesus then spends 40 days in the desert, away from everyone. But once John is arrested, Jesus returns to the place he grew up in: the area around the Sea of Galilee.

Jesus is taking a stroll on the shore of the Sea of Galilee when he interrupts Andrew and Simon. Andrew and Simon are busy working, tending their nets. I imagine they expected to spend that day seeing nets full of fish rather than meeting the Savior of the world. But Jesus walked straight into their lives, spoke one sentence, and Simon and Andrew dropped everything to follow him. Jesus then walked a little farther, running into Zebedee and his two sons: James and John. James and John, like Andrew and Simon, are busy working. They’re mending their nets so they can catch the fish they need to survive. And James and John are not alone. Some workers and their father are in the boat with them. Now, scripture doesn’t give us any details about Zebedee or his relationship with his sons. We don’t know if they cared about each other or if they had any future plans for their shared lives. James and John might have been the ones Zebedee expected to inherit the family business, pass on the family name, and be Zebedee’s when he became too frail to work. And then Jesus showed up and James and John left their dad in the boat. Any expectations they had about only being fishermen is now gone. Every plan their father had made for them is suddenly undone. This family is sitting by the Sea of Galilee when they meet the Savior of the world and their reality, their expectations, and their future plans all radically change. When Jesus shows up, he expects more than just fans; he expects followers.

We might hope and pray that our experience with Jesus might look and sound like what happened to Andrew, Simon, James, and John. We might feel like we’re waiting for that moment when we meet Jesus in a very real and powerful way. We want to see Jesus face-to-face, in a completely unambiguous way, and in a moment where Jesus and life suddenly makes sense and all our doubts and questions finally cease. We’re waiting for a moment when faith will happen to us and we’ll say “woah” like Keanu and actually mean it. We expect Jesus to move us from being only a fan of his – with our doubts and concerns and moments when we don’t even know if we believe – and once we are perfectly faithful, then we can finally be the follower of Jesus we think we’re supposed to be.

And I’ll admit that I sometimes wish my faith worked like that. Because that kind of faith, that kind of spirituality, feels like it would be sort of easy. Jesus shows up, I hear one sentence, and I finally get what it means to be with Jesus. Andrew, Simon, James, and John seem to imply that following Jesus is something that happens in a moment. And we who are faithful but a bit doubtful start making assumptions about what made these four disciples change so suddenly. We assume they must have believed everything about Jesus when they first met him, we assume they knew exactly how the story would turn out. We assume that every question they had was, in that moment, instantly answered. But that kind of easy spiritual moment only happens if we end the gospel according to MarI right here. If this was the last thing we heard about Andrew, Simon, James, and John – we could say that faith is supposed to be a neat and simple and very clean. But we will see that the story doesn’t end here. And as we read the rest of Mark, these four will end up being terrible followers of Jesus. They will seek out power and misunderstand what Jesus tells them about humility, sacrifice, and love. They will try to keep the marginalized and vulnerable away from Jesus, failing to see how Jesus makes caring for the oppressed a primary focus of everything he says and does. These four will cross borders with Jesus and fail to see how Jesus wants them to expand what hospitality looks like. These four will even talk back to Jesus when he tells them about the Cross because they couldn’t imagine God making a sacrifice so that all people, regardless of nationality, gender, race, or citizenship in God’s kingdom, could actually thrive. And these four will, when Jesus is in his greatest need, deny and abandon him.

These four are not perfect followers of Jesus and Jesus didn’t wait for them to be perfect before he made them his own. Following Jesus isn’t about waiting for that perfect faith-filled moment. Following Jesus is about trusting that Jesus’ promise are true. Jesus doesn’t ask his disciples to believe everything before they follow him. He simply asks them to trust that he is with them. That kind of trust is a little spooky because it assumes we will have doubts, that we will have questions, and that we will sometimes wonder if we even are a fan of Jesus himself. That kind of trust knows we will not be perfect but it still follows Jesus anyways.

And we start building that trust by noticing where Jesus shows up. He chooses to show up in our baptism, making us his, forever. He chooses to show up in the bread and drink we are about to share. He chooses to show up in the middle of all us, right now, when we gather together in his name. And he chooses to keep showing up to us when we are outside these church walls, leading us down paths he has already trod. We are called not to be perfect but to make our way through our life by following in his footsteps. And we trust that Jesus is making us more than just his fans. He is making us, the imperfect, into his faithful followers so that we can see him, know him, and live like him, and really mean it when we see love face-to-face and say “whoa.”