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Sermon: Remembrance Sunday Eucharist

Sunday 11th November 2012
Cathedral Eucharist
Hebrews 9:24-28
Mark 1:14-20

In November 1979, the U.S. embassy in Tehran was stormed by militants in retaliation for sheltering the recently deposed Shah.  Fifty American diplomats were held hostage. Six escaped.  Ben Affleck's film Argo is based on what happens next.

Tony Mendez, a CIA “exfiltration” expert is called upon to get the escapees out of Iran. Under the guise of being a location scout for a science fiction film, he presents them with Canadian identities, CVs, back stories; he and they are trusting in an elaborate publicity campaign complete with story boards, Production Company and press releases.

Affleck has had to justify various historical and diplomatic inaccuracies in the script and plot, but the personal challenge remains the same.  You’re asking us to trust you with our lives says Joe Stafford.  This is what I do says Mendez and I’ve never left anyone behind.  Would you trust him? Would you follow him on the basis of what you’ve heard, knowing that his story is the only thing between you and a gun to your head?

Responding to Mendez is an act of trust in the midst of fear.  It rests on the hope that the least bad plan is the only way out.  The diplomats have to become active agents in their own escape.

Crucial moments of decision permeate today's Gospel.  The disciples are invited to become active agents in the proclamation of the good news; in the making real of God's Kingdom.

Follow me.

Immediately they left their nets and followed him.

He called them. They left. They followed.

Ijesus asks  Simon and Andrew, James and John to follow him; to walk with him in his way.   Literally, walking across the land. 

Jesus doesn’t stay in one place; he travels around; he finds people where they are.   He meets them in the midst of fishing nets and family, among employees and ordinary graft.  Follow me, he says.  I will take what you know, and transform it.  Follow me, and you will be fishers of men, women and children; young and old, rich and weak, poor and powerful.  

Such walking demands a change of heart and commitment to self-giving love.   God’s kingdom comes near in the word made flesh. It comes near in bread and wine, broken and shared as a sign of his sacrificial love and presence; it comes near when a community gathered in faith and hope are sent out into the world in love and compassion.

God’s rule is breaking in; we are to respond in trust and faith.  The first disciples exchanged the familiar for an itinerant lifestyle.  Most uf us will be called to follow in the midst of the work, or family.  Follow me is an imperative that challenges us a moments of decision and transition; it effects our material choices and our human interactions.

Perhaps when confronted with such a challenge, our response echos Bishop Justin’s “Oh no” when he opened his letter from Number 10.  A moment of taking stock, of surprise; catching breath at the enormity of the challenge, before saying “yes”.

We will make mistakes, misunderstand and seek forgiveness.  We aren't given a new backstory; instead we are to be ourselves. Bringing our particular gifts to the work of reconciliation, compassion and self-giving love. 

We can trust Jesus with our lives.   Knowing his story and living it,  changes us. We are called share in a task, which for all its costliness brings hope. We become active agents of good news. Spend all that you have and all that you are for the sake of others, for the sake of the Kingdom.   Amen.