“Send Me…Follow Me” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell
Photo: Ashanti Spears performed this amazing spoken word piece at the Topeka, Kansas Mass Meeting of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival on August 21, 2017. (https://art.poorpeoplescampaign.org)
It was such a pleasure to share last Sunday with you as we talked about the courage that it takes to be ready for God’s call in your life to follow Jesus. This week we move from asking God to “send us,” to who God calls to “follow” Jesus. Join us this Sunday as Pastor Kaji preaches about who Jesus talks to and why? In a world of hyper-connectivity and miscommunications who we talk to and how is a vital part of our faith. I hope you will join us for an incredible Sunday of worship.
I spend a lot of my time with other people. They come from all different journeys and are each made in the image of God in their own unique way. And I have truly come to love and value every person that I meet. However, this has been something that I have had to work on in my own life. Being aware of my privileges has helped me be a better friend, pastor, and neighbor to everyone I meet. Which is why I like this week’s scripture so much. Jesus helps us to check our privilege and see all of God’s children as worthy of the grace of God and the love of neighbor. The Jesus in Mark is humble and willing to create new relationships and build bridges where others are quick to let the chasm of differences continue to divide. Where do you see your growing edge reflected in this story?
13 Jesus went out again beside the sea; the whole crowd gathered around him, and he taught them. 14 As he was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.
15 And as he sat at dinner in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus and his disciples—for there were many who followed him. 16 When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 When Jesus heard this, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.” (Mark 2:13-17 ILB)
When reflecting on the people in this passage I often see myself as the Disciples. Caught between truly following Jesus and the social constructions of the questioning scribes. Which is why this week’s scripture is so timely. So many of our church and broader community members have picked up the torch of leadership and service, brushed off the questioning scribes, and committed themselves to the Poor People’s Campaign and following Jesus. I am so thankful for the leadership and commitment to this cause from Rev. Sydney, Rev. Peter, Rev. Luis-Alfredo, and so many others who are lifting the voices of those living within the oppressive structures of institutional sin. Much like Jesus from this week’s gospel according to Mark.
Like Jesus, sitting with the tax collectors and other people that society has pushed aside, the Poor People’s Campaign builds community with intentional relationships. Their commitment to partnering and empowering those that are affected by institutional sins directly relates to this lesson from Jesus. We cannot build the kin-dom of God nor live into God’s call of loving your neighbor, if we don’t sit with, listen to, lift up, and love those that society thinks Jesus’s love and God’s grace isn’t for.
Church, this week’s message is simple. Who do you not want to spend time with and what might you learn about your relationship with God by seeking them out. Last week we said, “Here we are Lord, send us” but this week let us open our hearts and to hear Jesus’s call to “Follow me,” in spirit and action.