Candlemakers Michael and Lynette Richards of Iowa City, Iowa, give hope and help to homeless, disabled, and addicted people, usually recruited from homeless shelters. They employ some 46 workers who are either formerly homeless or suffer from physical or mental disabilities -- multiple sclerosis, retardation, or strokes -- that made them virtually unemployable before. No one at Candleworks, which grossed $800,000 in 1997, gets fired. For those who work there the company is a "shining light" making their future bright. But, anyone who shows up drunk or high is escorted to the door.
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As Jesus calls his disciples it seems like he has a criterion for the people with which he wants to surround himself. It may not always be obvious in the Biblical account, but Jesus is careful to choose people who are really committed to his message. With their help, Jesus will be able to do more and spread the word about God farther.
There are always difficulties in Christian ministry, at whichever level you're involved in it, from church cleaner to the Archbishop of Canterbury. There's always someone who'll find fault, and if like the Archbishop, you're a subject of media interest, then I should imagine Christian ministry can be very difficult indeed and perhaps something of a burden.
In today's Gospel text, Jesus calls for repentance, expects Peter and Andrew to drop their nets and follow him, and calls James and John to leave their Father Zebedee in the boat without so much as a "So long, see you later."
My task today is to issue that same call to repentance, that same call to radical obedience and decisive discipleship. For that call is urgent and cries out to be issued in all of its majesty and might.