Epiphany 3A, Gospel, Matthew

Immediately they left–

As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea for they were fishermen. And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fish for people." Immediately they left their nets and followed him.

As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. (Matthew 4:18-22)

Immediately, they left—

After a nightmare about moving, it's on my mind how difficult it is to leave a place, usually. My parents have been gone for 10 and almost 15 years, but I still dream from time to time about having to sort out their household, and in every dream I am on a deadline.

James and John, immediately they left, and followed him.

Last night I dreamed I was with my first husband and younger versions of our children, and we had to leave the place we were living, and we had to be out by a certain time which was only minutes away, and there were still so many things to pack, the task felt similar to Cinderella's assignment to sort trough the lentils. What did we really need? and how would we carry it all? and where were we going?

What did we really need? When you are moving, there is more to it, usually, than what you need. There are things you want as well, and in my dreams there are often sentimental items that need special packing materials. Do I need those things? Or the feelings that go along with them? Probably not, but the thought of being cut off from them, the fear of it, generally plays an important part in those dreams.

How would we carry it all? In last night's dream, there was no truck or van. We seemed to be leaving with only what we could carry. In that case, there was no doubt, we could not bring it all with us. Toys and small objects and clothes not on our backs would be left behind as surely as large pieces of furniture. I wondered what would happen to them, considered the position of the landlord, or whatever person might come in behind us, left with the mess of our lives, unpacked and unsorted.

Zebedee stood in the boat, alone, with the half-mended nets.

Where were we going? It wasn't clear in the dream, and it wasn't clear to James and John, either. Did one of them feel the impulse more strongly and the other follow him more than Jesus? Had they had it up.to.here. with Dear Old Dad, and were they looking for an opportune moment to flee? Or did they truly feel the same calling in the same moment with identical intensity?

We don't know. We only know they left. Immediately.

If you are like me, you fear their choice and envy it at the same time. Most of us stay behind in the unsorted rooms, at least on the physical plane, but the inner journey is open to us. Taking it may not necessitate abandoning the family business or leaving your mother's collection of painted china behind, but it might. You just don't know. And perhaps that is the scariest part of all.

Except for this part. You might be Zebedee. And I can't imagine a lonelier guy in the whole world then Zebedee when James and John "immediately left."  "Left" and "flee" easily mis-type, in the early morning, as "felt" and "feel." How do you feel if you put yourself in Zebedee's place? In the text, even the boat gets priority.

4 thoughts on “Immediately they left–”

  1. I have been out of the loop for a while – I love your writing. I’m so glad to be re-introduced.

  2. Love, love, love the thoughts you’re sharing. I just moved in the last month, so I know.what.you.mean (love that – – I picked up on it in your blogging the last week or so). We tried to leave a lot behind on purpose, but it probably doubled the amount of time it took us to pack to sift through stuff while we did it instead of just throwing it all in boxes.
    I wonder if they knew they were LEAVING or if they thought they were just going for a quick check? I wonder if they would have left in the first place or so immediately if they knew it would end up being a lifetime commitment?
    I’m going to thinking on this the rest if the day, I’m sure!

  3. I remember preaching on this text at the Denver City and County Jail. (well, it was kind of like preaching.) I asked the men if they thought it would be hard to leave just like that, immediately, and do you know what they said? NO. they said. Why? I asked. because It Was Jesus, they answered. You can trust Jesus, they said. You can’t trust anybody else.
    I wouldn’t have thought that, but, you never know.
    I like your new idea, by the way…Reflectionary.

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