The Parish Church of Sarum St. Martin, Salisbury Wiltshire

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From the Priest-In-Charge of Sarum St. Martin’s

3rd in OT 2018

The Call of the Lord Jesus is insistent.  It is a call that cannot be ignored.  The apostles heard what Jesus had to say and experienced His presence and left all to follow him. Jesus still calls to the world, and to us to follow Him and in that following know His life.
As we begin our worship of God Most High in this mass we recall those times when we have refused His Call and ask for forgiveness.
It being a Sunday evening we were watching an episode of Top Gear.  The Star in the Reasonable Priced Car that show was Ellen Macarthur.  Now if you do not recall that name let me remind you.  She was the Derbyshire woman who made the fastest single-handed circumnavigation of the world.  During the banter, Jeremy Clarkson said to her, ‘You’re the one who dragged us out of the cave!  If it had been left to me we would all still be living in the cave.  But thanks to people like you, we were dragged into civilisation!’

Jeremy Clarkson is not usually known as a philosopher, but he made a very cogent point in this conversation, and that point is; when faced with just sitting around and being content to just carry on, thank goodness for those who don’t! In this morning’s Gospel we have a scene in which four men stopped sitting around and followed the Lord.

Reading the scripture the thing that always strikes me is the immediacy of the response of the four, ‘And at once they left their nets and followed him …. He called them at once … (and) … they went after him.’ Its very much like Clarkson’s ‘You’re the one who dragged us out of the cave!’.  The Lord called and the four responded, only they were not going to be ‘dragged into civilisation!’, rather they were going to experience Life, the Life of Jesus.  We might ask why?  Why did they follow Him?

A friend of mine who has no faith but has witnessed what faith can do recently said that he was going to read the Bible because he wanted to understand how it was that people continued to believe in spite of the many difficulties with which they are faced.  I commended this to him, but added Christian faith is about a relationship, something that you have to catch, a bit like a disease or a falling in love.  Jesus is at the centre of this.  In the gospel for today we see the four not only leaving their nets immediately, but doing so because He, Jesus, called them.  Did they fall in love with Him, or did they catch the disease of Him?  Probably both and probably more.  But the movement was clear: Jesus called, they responded. Each one of us in this Church has enjoyed that same calling and that same responding, otherwise, why are we here?  Yet there is more.

The four were called and responded immediately.  But that was not it.  The call of the Saviour came to them time and time again, so that time and time again they had, as it were, to re-respond.  The call of Christ to faith in Him and the response is but the beginning, the beginning of a growing and deepening relationship that lasts all through life on this earth and beyond.  However, do we hear the repeated call of Jesus?  Yes, No?  Only we can answer that for ourselves.  Yet if we say, ‘I’ve never heard a call’ perhaps we are saying, ‘My ears are closed’.  And again, if difficulties come so that we lose faith, perhaps again our ears are closed to Him.

Fr David Fisher

Some will tell you that it is the conversion moment that really counts in the Christian life, that moment of turning to follow Jesus, that catching of the disease.  Sadly, they are wrong.  The call and the response, the conversion moment if you like, is a daily event.  Recall the words of Fr. John Keble, ‘New every morning is the love, Our wakening and uprising prove; Through sleep and darkness safely brought, Restored to life, and power, and thought.’

What Fr. Keble knew and so shared is this simple fact of Our Lord; He renews His call to us daily, and so daily we must respond afresh.  But I haven’t heard that! Well, wash your ears out then!  In other words, listen. Listen for the Lord, for He is surely there.

And how do we listen for the Lord?  We listen by so loving Him that we are in a kind of constant conversation with Him.  And this conversation we renew in prayer, in spiritual reading, in reading scripture and above all in celebrating the sacraments that He gave to His Church to the means by which He would make Himself known; ‘Do this in remembrance of me.’ ‘our Lord Jesus Christ … (says) … I absolve you from all your sins.’

It is clear then from the scripture that we have read this morning that the Lord will and does and will and does again and again call us to Him.  Are we listening?



Almighty God, you have made us members of Christ and of his Church in this parish. May we as a congregation reach upwards to your throne in worship and adoration: inwards to one another in understanding and fellowship; and outwards to the world in evangelism and social compassion. Make us like a city set on a hill whose light cannot be hidden, so that men and women may find Christ as the Light of the World, and his Church as the family of the redeemed, and eternal life as the gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord Amen.

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