In this Sunday’s reading from Mark’s Gospel Jesus calls some fishermen on the Sea of Galilee to follow him and announce the coming of God’s kingdom. When we hear Jesus calling them, we should hear him calling us. In our first reading God calls Jonah to set out to convert the great city of Nineveh. We should hear God calling us to change the world we live in.
Last week at the Inauguration in Washington, DC, President Biden and Vice-President Harris were called to serve the people of this country. It was more than a political event, a transfer of power. It was more than a call to two people, or some people, or a political party. It was a call to all the people of the nation to come together to work for its good. A call to us.
That was the message of the speeches, the prayers, the poems, the songs, the symbols of last Wednesday.
It was the message that Amanda Gorman, the 23year old black woman, spoke that day in her inspired poem “The Hill We Climb.”
“We are striving to forge a union with purpose,
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.
And so we lift our gaze not to what stands between us,
But what stands before us.
We close the divide, because we know to put our future first,
We must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms
So we can reach out our arms to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew,
That even as we hurt, we hoped,
That even as we tired, we tried,
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious—
Not because we will never again know defeat
But because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision
That everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree,
And no one shall make them afraid.
If we’re to live up to our own time,
then victory won’t lie in the blade but in all the bridges we’ve made.
That is the promised glade,
The hill we climb if only we dare it.
Because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.”
That message captured the day, I think. Amanda got it right. We need a president and vice-president, governments, political parties, but “we” climb the hill. All of us. We lift up our eyes, we close the divide, we put our differences aside, we reach out our arms, we grieve and grow, get tired and keep trying, we climb the hill and dare it.
That’s also the message of our scriptures. Jesus called the fishermen along the Sea of Galiee and they followed him. He also calls us to dare to go with him. God called Jonah to go into the great city of Nineveh and change it, and he did, reluctantly. He calls us too.
It’s a steep hill God calls us to climb. We face a pandemic, climate change, racism, a broken economy, fear of the stranger. With God’s grace, we will climb it.
“For there is always light if only we’re brave enough to see it,
If only we’re brave enough to be it.”