Day 21: TUMULT
John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.
My mom got ordained this year.
She finished seminary, worked as a hospice chaplain, and on Valentine’s Day, she was ordained to preach the gospel in the Church of the Brethren.
One of the hymns she chose for the service was this one: Jesus Calls Us O’er the Tumult.
The hymn is a summons, an invitation to listen for Jesus’ call to make a life of faithful discipleship our ultimate concern, more important than wealth, busyness, employment, home, family. It mentions the apostle Andrew, who was called to follow Jesus from the beach, where he’d been a fisherman. He left his boat, his net, his livelihood, his family, his home…and followed.
I hate the immediacy of the gospels. I hate that Andrew meets Jesus one day and immediately drops his entire life to follow him. Today’s lectionary text was about Joseph hearing from an angel in a dream, waking up and totally abandoning his entire hard-won, agonizingly discerned life plan. I hate the way plot gets hurried along in scripture, carved down into bite-sized storylines.
Surely – surely! – Andrew and Joseph and Mary and all those other biblical characters who heard a call from God did some soul-searching before they said YES, right? It’s a lot to give up, to choose to follow Jesus wherever he asks, even away from the things we love most deeply.
I know part of that is my particular personality – I am slow to decide and have a bone-deep need to carefully consider all the facts and potential outcomes before committing.
But I think this weight of the reality of a life of discipleship is exactly why my tradition doesn’t baptize babies. We expect people to count the cost of a life lived in pursuit of Jesus. We expect people to be made aware of the heavy decisions that following Christ may require of them. We expect people to commit of their own free will and volition.
A bunch of our ancestors got oppressed, imprisoned and killed for their faith commitments, so the insistence on deliberate decision making is not a pro pro of nothing.
Still, what convinces me over and over that choosing faith and discipleship is worthwhile is the promise of greater life, greater joy, a fullness more than, as Paul says, we can ask or imagine. If I love these this much and they love me, what greater love could be still possible, yet?