In many small towns across America the annual Volunteer Fireman's Fair is the social event of the year, or at least it used to be. In days gone by, a typical carnival might have the usual carousel or Ferris Wheel, sometimes pony rides, and always there were the games of chance. (Today we might frown upon these as "gambling" -- but back then it was just small-town fun for a good cause.) Bingo was usually preferred by the adults; but the youngsters had other ideas. For a boy named David in Freeport, Ohio, the hands-down favorite was the nickel toss.
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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.