Monday Matters (September 22nd, 2014)


Reflections to start the week
Monday, September 22, 2014

Follow me

Once upon a time, long, in a diocese far away, at a time before we relied on Google or Mapquest or GPS to find our way in the world, I served at a church in Washington D.C. I was called on to preside at the funeral of a prominent lawyer, a good and accomplished man, with somewhat tangential relationship to the church. The sanctuary was packed (I confess I found myself calculating the billable hours in the room). At the end of the service, the hearse was to lead a procession to the cemetery, located in northern Virginia, about 45 minutes drive on a day without traffic. I was to preside at that graveside service. To add to the transit time, the family wished for the procession to drive by several important Washington places that had meant a lot to the deceased. For a variety of reasons (including introversion), I chose to drive my own car. I found myself about halfway through the line-up of the procession of who knows how many cars as we began to snake our way through the city.

We were in downtown Washington. when for some reason, the car directly in front of me stopped at a red light, though custom was for the procession to keep going. We watched the rest of the procession disappear into city traffic. I feverishly looked for the map, the name of the cemetery, and realized I had gathered that information and left it on my desk. At least I still had this driver in front of me. He would know where to go. I could follow him.

Then I noticed he had put on his directional signal. He was bailing from the procession. I was on my own, not knowing where to go, detached from the procession. As he moved through the intersection, obviously headed in a different direction, I found myself in hot pursuit. I pulled up next to him at the next stop light, pointed at my collar, motioned for him to roll down his window and said: “You can’t leave the procession. I’m following you and I’m officiating at the graveside.” He saw my predicament. He had the information regarding the site for the burial. He kindly changed his mind, leading me through D.C. traffic to a tardy arrival for the committal. Any number of lessons were learned by this young priest that day, a number of them rendered moot by technology which has emerged since that day. But the moral to the story: It matters who you follow.

Today is the feast of St. Matthew, tax collector working hard at his desk. Matthew suddenly finds Jesus standing across his spreadsheets and calculators. Jesus says to him: “Follow me.” Matthew does it. On the spot, his life changed forever. He follows Jesus on a new adventure, not knowing where he was going, with no illusion that it would be easy or even safe. We remember him for his faithfulness and his courage, to discern that Jesus was worth following, that he could be trusted.

So this Monday we ask: who do we follow? What do we follow? Where do we put our confidence. That’s what discipleship is all about, being a student, a learner, recognizing our own limits, and trusting that there is one who will lead us, as we walk in his footsteps.

– Jay Sidebotham

The Collect for the Feast of St. Matthew:

We thank you, heavenly Father, for the witness of your apostle and evangelist Matthew to the Gospel of your Son our Savior; and we pray that, after his example, we may with ready wills and hearts obey the calling of our Lord to follow him. Amen. 

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.

-Proverbs 3:5,6 

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, `I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”

-Matthew 9:9-13


Jay SidebothamContact:

Rev. Jay Sidebotham
RenewalWorks is a ministry of Forward Movement.

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