"Follow me, and I will make you fish for people."
Not words to be taken lightly, that's for sure.
Little did I know three years ago where those words, "Follow me," would lead me. For it was three years ago that I came to preach these words for the first time to the people of Christ and Trinity Lutheran Church in Sedalia, Missouri. And it was three years ago that those same words were words spoken to me.
Living in the state of Missouri was not on my radar. I had only visited the state once before my initial interviews. Of course I had heard of Mark Twain and Hannibal and the famous arch. Still, Missouri was a bit foreign to me, a bit far from family and friends, and a bit unknown. Yet the words of Jesus called, "Follow me."
And there I was being voted on by the people of Christ and Trinity to be their pastor. To enter into relationship with them. To hear their stories. To tell God's story. To offer forgiveness. To ask for forgiveness. To baptize. To share bread and wine. To laugh and to cry. To sing and to dance.
On this particular Sunday, I was to preach in worship and to meet the people. I remember the faces and the feelings and the nerves. I remember the children and their notes of welcome.
"Dear Pastor Kim, We all have hope you will like our church."
"We love you."
Notes of hope and notes of promise. Notes that no matter whether I was their pastor or not, no matter how flat my sermon fell, or how many names I forgot, no matter how much uncertainty there was, they still loved me. Already.
Follow me, Jesus says. And come to experience this love that existed before you were born. Follow me to share that love, to proclaim the good news, to heal and to forgive. Follow me.
Three years ago I had no idea where this journey, this call, would lead. And now three years later I still am unsure of where God is calling each of us. I trust only in the promise that I am loved. The people I serve are loved. The community is loved. And that the world outside our doors is still in desperate need of hearing these words of love and hope. And so, together, we share God's word and the example of Jesus.
Three years into this call and I'm aware of the fluid nature of community. People I met three years ago, people who welcomed and taught and loved me, have moved on for work or have entered the church triumphant. And there are people who have become a part of this community just in these last three years. There are people, like me, who are learning and sharing about this Jesus and this call with new friends and new family.
Three years have gone by and Missouri is no longer unknown to me. Now the state of Missouri, Sedalia and Christ and Trinity, paint a picture of God's work in the world. A picture of God's call in the lives of God's people. A people full of love and ready to share that love with the world. A people who say to friends and enemies and strangers, "We love you." People who work together to follow God's call.