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     Sermons | Passionate worship

    This sermon was preached by the Rev. Keith Cardwell at Swift Presbyterian Church.

    March 15, 2020 | Third Sunday in Lent

    Jesus Sees Potential
    Matthew 4:18–22

    ■ Eleventh sermon in the 2020 Vision series

     W HAT WAS IT about Peter and Andrew, or for that matter, James and John, that caused Jesus to stop, watch them cast nets and decide to invite them to travel with him?

    Fishing doesn’t seem to be the ideal career background to lead to disciple or apostle. I like the word play. You’re fishing for mullet, how about fishing for people?

    But what did Jesus see in these four men? What was their potential?

    We do know that Peter, became the rock of the church, James was the leader of the Jerusalem faith community for a time. John became known as the “beloved disciple.” Seemingly ordinary folks until Jesus plucked them from fishing to ministry.

    † † †

    HE SAW their potential.

    ■ Potential — having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future.

    ■ Potential — latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness.

    † † †

    SPORTS TEAMS, VIRUSES, businesses, people all have potential. The coronavirus has the potential to kill tens of thousands of people; cripple the world’s economy; close churches. There are many unknowns here. There is unprecedented territory ahead, and nobody can say how long it might last.

    While the next several weeks have the potential to be disruptive in our homes, school, sports, work and worship, there is potential for the church to keep “being the Church,” even when you can’t be in the church building. Potential for us to grow in relationship with one another. The potential to come out the other side of this crisis stronger.

    † † †


    Pray. Pray for your pastors. Pray for the elders. The session meets tomorrow night to discuss our options and plans for future weeks. We will look at the potential of this virus causing interruptions for some time and how we will address them. Pray for those who have to make the really hard decisions about whether or how to gather in times of uncertainty. There is no road map for this, and there is no one right answer. Pray for discernment in the midst of very difficult conversations. Pray for people who are afraid. People who are vulnerable. People who are economically uncertain. Pray for medical staff and the possibility that clinics and hospitals will be overrun in days ahead. Pray for national leaders as they, at all levels of government, make decisions that affect everyone.

    Pay. This may seem like a small thing in the grand scheme right now. But trust me, it matters that you continue to give your offerings, as long as you are fiscally able. Even the healthiest congregations can find themselves in the hole after just a few Sundays of missed offerings. You may give online (through our website, or set up automatic withdrawal. Mail in a check or send it by pony express. Even if the building is empty, mission commitments to the community continue, bills and salaries need to be paid. The ministry of the church will not stop.

    Find a way — to be community. Check on your neighbors. You older neighbors, your neighbor on chemo, your neighbor whose kid relies on free school lunch, your neighbor who works and could use help with childcare. If you self-isolate don’t just binge watch Netflix. Send notes. Make phone calls. Text. Send emails to people. Keep the community active.

    We are one body, even when that body is not together in the flesh. This is a great time of potential to connect and care for each others’ spiritual needs. You are embodying what the whole gospel thing is about, which takes church out of the building and brings it to life for others. You have the potential to affect someone’s life for Christ.

    Obey “Remember the Sabbath.” There’s the possibility that worship might be canceled. A number of churches have already made that decision. Even if we continue on Sunday mornings, you might be uncomfortable attending. However, don’t forget to worship. Sit still and be with your family without the usual rush of places to be and things to accomplish. Daily Lenten readings are on Facebook and our website under “the latest” tab. Printed copies are in the back.

    Follow an outline of worship. Pray as a family. I will post something for worship every week during this crisis. Read together the Scripture for the day. Maybe sing or listen to a few religious songs online. Watch the video of a sermon. Talk about what you learn. Talk about your blessings. Any of these things can be worshipful. Facetime with distant family or friends and have “church” together. We have to potential to expand our understanding of Sabbath and community.

    † † †

    THE NEXT MONTH has the potential to be scary, isolating, and overwhelming You have the potential to be used by God to bring something “good” out of this epidemic. Swift Church has the potential to be the church beyond the walls of this building; to be in the world with the love and presence of Christ to the vulnerable. Will we live into that potential?

    (Some of this comes from a Pathos article.)

    — Keith Cardwell   

    «While the next several weeks have the potential to be disruptive in our homes, school, sports, work and worship, there is potential for the church to keep “being the Church,” even when you can’t be in the church building. Potential for us to grow in relationship with one another. The potential to come out the other side of this crisis stronger.»


    ►This is the Word of God for the people of God:

    Matthew 4:18–22
    Holy Bible, New International Version

    Jesus calls his first disciples
    18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.

    21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

    — This is the Word of the Lord.
    — Thanks be to God.

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    23208 Swift Church Road
    Foley, AL 36535
    Phone: (251) 943-8367