Tuesday, 26 June 2012
On 18 June St. John's Episcopal (Anglican) Church in the Hay Yousif district of Khartoum was simply demolished by local government officials. In the process most of the building's contents were also destroyed. Sudanese authorities claim that the building was demolished because it had no official permit. Church authorities, however, have reminded them that they have been trying to register the church since its opening more than twenty years ago in 1989, but were prevented from doing so by unjust delays by government officials. As St. John's lies in ruins there are understandably fears that other churches will also be destroyed. Earlier in June the authorities threatened to occupy and close a Catholic church, an action only prevented when the congregation occupied the building.
It is not only churches that are being removed from the skyline. A number of Church-run schools have recently been forced to close and threatened with demolition. The local politicians say this is because many Christians have left the area to go to South Sudan (under pressure from the government?) and so there are less Christian children needing schools. The Churches deny this. Most recently the offices of the Sudan Council of Churches and Sudan Aid in Nyala have been forced to close.
I just wonder what would happen in Birmingham, or Chicago or Berlin, if the local council suddenly decided to bulldoze a few mosques and close the office of Islamic Aid?
If the people of Sudan genuinely want an Islamic state then that's fine ... but the Holy Qu'ran demands that they care for 'the people of the book' (Christians) who live in their midst. Bulldozing churches, closing schools, encouraging thousands to flee their homes and go as refugees to South Sudan, does not look to me like the care and consideration the Qu'ran demands.
The frightening question is ... Sudan today, Egypt tomorrow?
Sunday, 24 June 2012
The citizens of Egypt just democratically elected a Muslim, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in fact, as their new president. Admittedly it was only 51.7% of the those who voted - but that's democracy - it's a lot more people than voted for David Cameron in the UK and we're still stuck with him. So what should Egyptian Christians do? Some are fearful that there is only one agenda for the Muslim Brotherhood - an Islamic state governed by Sharia law. Others are not so sure. Egypt has too much to loose, they say, by cutting itself off from friendly western democracies. Others, those who can, will simply leave the country as thousands have already done, looking for a new home in Australia, the US, Germany of Britain. But others will stay as Jesus' witnesses in the place that was His childhood refuge.
We have come a lomg way from the early days of the 'Arab Spring' revolution in Egypt and much of the optimism and idealism has evaporated and given way to hard realism. Christians - Copts, Catholics and Evangelicals - are used to suffering in this divided nation. Churches have been bombed, mostasteries bulldozed and leaders imprisoned. But tonight, a friend of mine, Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Church in Egypt, wrote, "We call for an Egypt for all, one that takes into consideration the value and rights of every citizen, and pray for the new president as he takes on this responsibility. We hope that throughout his service, it is the good of the people of Egypt that will always be core to the decisions he makes at this formative stage and throughout his period in office." Yes, pray for this Muslim Brotherhood president. Seems strange but I seem to recall that St. Pasul also suggested something rather similar.
As our Christian friends in Egypt pray for their new president, I shall be praying for them, and for their nation.
Still Italy 0 England 0 - well perhaps I didn't miss much writting the blog! Now I can watch 30 minutes of extra time.
Saturday, 9 June 2012
Back to the octopus and Mr. Clarkson. Have you worked it out yet? Well it appears they both look at you through very similar eyes - eyes that have a lense suspended in fluid focusing light onto light sensitive cells. I must admit I had not looked into octopus eyes before (or even found myself looking into Jeremy Clarkson's eyes!) but it seems that their similarity is highly significant for poor old Mr. Darwin. Why? Because accordinging to Darwin (and all other biologists) homo sapiens (which we take to include Jeremy) and the octopus come from completely differenmt species that seperated on the evolutionary tree millions of years ago, way before that type of eye developed. It seems they have booth completely independently developed the same eye. Professor Morris tells me, and who am I to argue, that these "convergences" - different species becoming more like each other, developing the same solution to a problem - are remarkably common. So ...
So, when Darwin saw similarities in fossils, and live species, this does not necessarily mean they have a common ancestor, they might just have been facing the same problem (like needing to see) and ended up finding the same solution. Oh dear, Darwin.
Morris is humble enough to admit that he has no idea why species "converge", and by what mechanisms, but he suggests that perhaps life is more of a mystery than Darwin led us to believe.
I'm just left wondering whether it was God who thought of the eye, and after he gave a few to the octopus family He realised that Jeremy might find a couple useful as well - especially when he's driving at speed. But more importantly I'm really encouraged to read a scientist who believes there is still a great deal of mystery about life.
Friday, 8 June 2012
Well, Micah, was certainly not a royalist, but he does have some interesting things to say about reigning.
Quite independently two of us in the home group decided that we should use "The Message" version of the Bible this week for our study. I admit I rarely read "The Message" - some sort of intellectual snobbery about it not being a proper translation, just an interpretation, as if the hermaneutical process is somehow secondary to linguistic translation! Anyway, having been led to "The Message" one phrase really stood out for me. In a passage which I know almost by heart, because we use it every Christmas, (Micah 5:2) Micah speaks prophetically of Israel's king - the Messiah, Jesus - as "the leader who will shepherd-rule Israel". Instantly pictures of Homs jumped into my mind and my ears rang to the tune of Bashar al-Assad, Hosni Mubarak, Muammar Gaddafi, Slobodan Milošević, Idi Amin ... What a contrast! And then a quiet sense of gratitude for the young lady who fifty nine years ago was announted with oil in a Christian Cathedral and prayed for God's strength as she dedicated herself to serve her people.
But, I was reminded in our home group, the prophet's words are for me (not just Obama, Kibaki or Pratibha Patil). Shepher-ruling is for me, in my workplace, in my family, amongst my community. Verse 4 of that chapter in Micah goes on " He will stand tall in his shepherd-rule by God's strength, centered in the majesty of God-Revealed." After the washing up, everyone had gone home, I had put away the Bibles and swept up the crumbs, I rewrote that verse as a prayer:
"May I stand tall as I shepherd-rule by God's strength, centred in the majesty of God-Revealed"
Tuesday, 22 May 2012
Sagovsky, who has been Canon Theologian at Westminster Abbey and held professorial chairs at Roehampton and Liverpool Hope Universities, has sub-titled his book(let) "Justice as Fairness in Turbulent Times". In seven short chapters he reviews Rawls' approach to justice and then applies this to our contemporary context of bankers' bonuses, child poverty, Greece's collapsing economy, and environmental destruction. I was interested to see that in his search for justice and fairness Rawls came to reject the Christian faith, not because of its basic doctrines but because of "its persecution" of heretics and dissenters.
So why has Sagovsky resurrected Rawls (who died in 2002) now? Because he feels that he has something to say to us about "fairness" as justice in society today. For example Sagovsky suggests that Rawls would not necessarily have objected to banker's bonuses BUT he would have asked who benefits from these. If it is only the 'already rich' that is unjust, but if it can be reliably shown that these bonuses benefit the most vulnerable and deprived in society (by, for example, providing the sort of financial stability now sadly missing in Greece) then they could be judged just. Rawls had some very interesting criteria for judging what is just - ensuring that all members of society (present and future) have equal access to all basics needed for human thriving. The question Sagovsky raises is, "What do human beings need in order to thrive?" How would a Christian answer that question?
If you are interrsted in justice in society and our current political/economic structural crises then this is a stimulating read.
Monday, 14 May 2012
I have huge respect for the Dalai Lama, and might have been tempted to go to St. Paul's just to hear him. I am also very happy that he has been awarded this year's Templeton Prize. From what I know of him he appears to be a man of integrity with a sense of the importance of spiritual journeying. My concerns are not about him but about the Templeton Prize.
Apparently the prize is set at £1.1 million to ensure that it is greater than all the Nobel Prizes because of Sir John Templeton’s belief that benefits from discoveries that illuminate spiritual questions are bigger than those from other worthy human endeavours. The prize was first established in 1972. But hang on, do you really prove that spiritual advance, spritual excellence, is more important than advances in science, medicine, peace, or anything else, by throwing money at people. To my (simple) mind awarding £1.1 million to the "winner" seems to completely undermine many of the spiritual values that the Dalai Lama, and more significantly, Jesus, stands for. Am I wrong? Would Jesus have turned up at St. Paul's this morning if the Templeton Foundation were trying to give him £1.1 million?
By the way if you are still interested to know who the Dalai Lama will give his £1.1 million to you need to watch the presentation live on www.templeton.org at 1.30pm (BST) today. I won't be watching but if they mention my name please do tell me!
Monday, 30 April 2012
Now, the children of Pakistan have been given an opportunity to say what they really think about terrorism - through art. These wonderful, and horrific, pictures come from an exhibition in Islamabad organised by Khawar Azhar.
You can see a video report from the BBC at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-17862035
Wednesday, 25 April 2012
Reflecting on my encounters with (in fact, fellowship with) both groups of orthodox Christians, the Eastern Orthodox ones and the Anglican ones, I am tempted to try to invent some new language. I think I want to become an Orthopraxic Christian - one who tries to live correctly, to be a faithful disciple of Jesus, to walk in what the early Christians called "The Way". Of course we do still need to struggle with belief and I have no problems with the slightly heated debates which take place between so called 'orthodox' and 'non-orthodox' Anglicans or between 'Orthodox believers' and 'non-Orthodox believers' - they are all part of the 'right belief' struggle. But we also need to struggle to get our 'life witness' right - to be orthopraxic - because it will be our orthopraxis which will witness to the power of the Risen Christ as much, as, or even more so than, our orthodox beliefs. My prayer for all of our gatherings is that our struggles for orthodox belief will be bathed in orthopraxis - our love to one another, which speaks of Christ's love for all.
On reflection I don't want to be an Orthopraxic Christian afte all! What I really want to do is to reclaim the title Orthodox for all of us whose heart seeks to worship God rightly, in word and life.
Friday, 20 April 2012
I was reading the first letter of John and there at the end of the fourth verse (1 John 1:4) I found a little "a" and at the bottom of the page it said "Other ancient manuscripts read your". Well that was it, I just could not contain myself. Should it be "our" or "your"? What's the difference? My research project was underway and dusty books flew off my shelves.
Well you see there is actually a very big difference. John had just been doing his hard hit evangelism. "What was from the beginning, what we saw, what we heard, what we touched, we pass on to you ... basically that Jesus brings God's gift of eternal life" and then he goes on to say, "we told you all this so that your joy could be complete". Well no he doesn't. That is what we would expect him to say, but actually he says "so that our joy may be complete". In fact it seems (and this is where my footnote archaeology came in handy) that some of those ancient monks who copied out the Bible by hand so many times (and wouldn't you be getting tired by the time you got to 1 John and only broth for lunch?) so much expected John to say "your joy" that they ended up writting that even though the Bible they were copying said "our joy".
So why am I getting so worked up about this "our/your" business. Well, because it makes ALL the difference to how we think about evangelism. When the point of evangelism is to make your joy complete, I'm just doing good for your sake - I'm basically a 'do-gooder' but when I grasp that the whole point of evangelism is to make our (my) joy complete we are into a whole different ball game. If you receive the good news of Jesus Christ, if you start to follow Him, I gain a new sister or brother, I have someone new with whom to fellowship, etc. etc. ... my joy is completed. Wow - thank you footnote.
Tuesday, 17 April 2012
Well, by now I hope you have realised I made all that up. (If Cameron is still at the station buying his ticket to Glasgow, come home - we love you in Oxford!) But my serious point is that this is exactly what is happening between Sudan and South Sudan right now. With the two countries on the brink of a bitter war (over oil of course!) Sudan has decided that anyone at all with a grandparent from South Sudan (mainly Christians) needs to get out, and get out fast. To make matters worse all barge traffic on the River Nile has been stopped so people can only take with them what they can carry overland ... and then at the border there are all sorts of difficulties with the issuing of identify papers etc. And in the skies above - war planes circle.
When it was just one country (designed by those wonderful British imperialists) Sudan was locked in 25 years of tragic civil war. Now it seems the only difference is that the war is no longer 'civil', just war.
Tuesday, 10 April 2012
The temptation, as I packed by briefcase and set off for the office on Easter Tuesday, was to put Easter back in its box and keep it safely for next year, along with the Christmas tree and the palm crosses. Christ was risen on Sunday but now life gets back to normal. It has to, I have a job to do, family to care for, and a life to live. But seriously, can life ever get back to normal? If I understood Easter correctly, I hope I did, then there can be no more 'normal' - not ever again. 'Normal' flew out of the window the moment Jesus flew out of the tomb.
Jesus' risenness is never in the past, it is always here in the present and rushing on into the future - His future. Christ IS risen on Sunday, Christ IS risen on Monday ... you guessed it, Christ IS risen on Tuesday and Wednesday and and and. Good bye normal, welcome living Jesus! Now I have plenty to think about!
Tuesday, 3 April 2012
Andrew Sullivan, former editor of The New Republic, takes a hard look in this lead article at the politicisation of American religious institutions, suggesting that many churches and religious establishments in the US are simply used as vehicles for achieving political power. In his frusatration he suggests we "forget the church and follow Jesus". The only problem is that he seems to forget that to follow Jesus is to walk straight back into the church. It is not so easy to divorce Jesus and church - take away the church and you take away the Body of Jesus and end up with a spiritualised, idealised, dis-embodied idea you might want to call Jesus - but it just aint Jesus. The church is messy, distorted, - yes, sinful, but it is the Body of Jesus and if we follow Jesus we have to cope with the church however much it frustrates and pains us! After all it is us.
So, don't forget the church. By all means forget the institution, the establishment, the political Right, heirachy and ecclesial power - but not the Body of Jesus, whose PHYSICAL resurrection we will celebrate again this week. Rather pray for its re-creation in His image.
Saturday, 31 March 2012
Barrera adds, "We are in a shared space and what comes out of the shared space depends on what the people in it will do. Right now, Muslims feel extremely empowered and Latinos do not." So there seem to be two issues here. One - how do we create genuine 'shared space' where faith conversations can happen naturally? Two - how do we give Christians the confidence, the sense of empowerment to make the best use of that shared space?
Food for thought here not just for American Hispanics, I think.
Friday, 30 March 2012
However the issue concerned a seminar being held tomorrow in Johor State (sponsored by the Education Department of the State and the office of the State Mufti of Johor. The title of the seminar is “Strengthening the Faith, the Dangers of Liberalism and Pluralism and the Threat of Christianisation towards Muslims. What is the role of teachers?” In fact, under protest, the words "Threat of Christianisation" have now been removed from the title but the text of the lecture has not been changed.
So why did I have difficulty in joining my friend's protest? Well, as soon as I read "Threat of Christianisation" I found the words "Threat of Islamicisation" were ringing even more clearly in my ears - words I hear day after day from American preachers, European internet pundits and the prophet who comes up to me after church every time I dare to use the word 'dialogue' in my sermon. In fact, I think this is the very first time I have heard the phrase "Threat of Christianisation" whereas I read of the opposite threat daily in our press. So ... my question was, why is it OK for lectures to be give, books to be published and YouTube videos to circulate warning of an Islamic threat but totally unacceptable to debate the perception of a Christian threat?
Of course I would prefer to do away with all threats, but in a real world we do often find each other threatening and perhaps it is better to talk about it than let the threats grow unhindered in our imaginings.
Yes, I did publish ... but I also voiced my questions - I hope my friend Ng understands.
Thursday, 22 March 2012
But Korea not only holds records for the large number of cross-cultural missionaries it has sent out in recent decades, it also faces contined criticism over some of its methods; criticism that comes not least from within the WCC. When Koreans took a leading role in the Tokyo 2010 conference (marking the centenary of Edinburgh 1910) there was no shortage of those prepared to stand up and point a finger at the weaknesses of Korean mission ventures. They were accused of failing to take culture seriously enough, refusing to learn the language of their host community, using their financial power in inappropriate ways, and of failing to learn lessons from the mistakes made by European missionaries in the previous two centuries. Some of this criticism is justified but much is not. In many places Korean missionaries have lived sacrificial, inculturated lives, which have "given birth to much fruit". I had breakfast with one such on Tuesday this week and am proud to have others as good friends.
However there is one point on which we do need to challenge Korean mission movements, as indeed most of those in Europe and the US. They are still heavily committed to the twentieth century model of full-time, long-term, fully-supported missionaries. How appropriate is that in the twenty-first century? Which brings me - at last - to this week! On their way to Korea the WCC (or to be precise, their Conference on World Mission and Evangelism -CWME) are meeting, this week, in Manila - 200 plus church leaders, and their primary focus is mission and evangelism. There can be no more appropriate stopping off point on the way to Korea than the Philippines. Why? Because of the wonderful creativity of the churches of the Philippines who have trained and equipped hundres, perhaps thousands, of migrant workers as missionaries - some going to the least easily reached countries in the world.
I hope those attending the CWME this week, including my Korean friend who bought me breakfast a few days ago, get time to listen to the story of the Philippines Mission Network - and go on their way to Korea challenged and inspired.
Sunday, 18 March 2012
Over the past couple of days I have been reading the comments of leading religious commentators on the ten years of Rowan Williams' leadership as Archbishop of Canterbury. Whilst many have praised him for his intellect, his wisdom, his humility and his persistent and painful search for understanding and reconciliation within a fractured Anglican Communion, others have spoken of his failed leadership saying he lacked the ability to "bash heads together" and provide much needed "powerful personal leadership".
Personally I am a great admirer of Rowan Williams and I am quite excited about his move to Cambridge where he will regain the freedom he needs to truely become the prophetic Christian leader he is - the freedom to provoke, question, inspire and lead by humble Christian example. Praise God he has decided to escape the shackles of archbishoping before he becomes too drained to offer what we so much need - spiritual leadership.
As I prayed this morning for the man (it will be a man, at least this time round) who will be chosen to lead 70 million Anglicans, I found myself muttering, "In the steps of Jesus ... please God preserve us from head bashers and powermongers ... give us a man of humility, wisdom and prayer, a man who knows that archbishops, even Archbishops of Canterbury, are no more than the rest of us, simple followers of Jesus, trying to keep close to him and his ways.
Thank you Rowan for ten years of your life, years of pain, struggle and misunderstanding. Now may your leadership blossom in freedom.
Thursday, 15 March 2012
The fact that 79 million people have watched Kony 2012 in the past ten days has led to a major outcry in Uganda, the nation traumaticed for 23 years by the cruelty and obsenity of Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army. Produced by the California based charity Invisible Children, the 30 minute video powerfully tells the story of the abuse of children over two decades in East Africa. Using the idiom of Facebook-style social networking the story told is of the bond that developed between two boys - one a Ugandan boy soldier and the other a young American turned social activist. Viewed from the perspective of a charity seeking to raise funds and engage American young people in social action this video is at the top of its class. But ...
But if you are a family just beginning to come to terms with the pain of lives destroyed by the personal ambitions of Joseph Kony, a video (and poster campaign which will climax across the US on 20 April) which adopts the catch phrase "Make Kony famous" may not be quite so welcome. Sheikh Musa Khalil, the Kadhi of the Muslim region of northern Uganda said in an interview that the film "is likely to traumatize those who were affected" and Bishop Johnson Gakumba, speaking in Gulu said, "While it publicizes the problem, we see it as being outdated. It should have been released in 2003"
So what are Invisible Children trying to do - disgrace a tyrant, stop a war, generate cash for their charity, or simply raise the profile of their work? When thousands of children have been aboused by the Lord's Resistance Army, a charity is doing good work, funds are short, and a powerful video goes viral, how important are the victim's views?
Wednesday, 14 March 2012
These figures and many more come from the latest study of migration by the Pew Research Center, a report that points out that if migrants were considered as one nation they would be the fifth largest nation on earth. The full report can be found at http://www.pewforum.org/faith-on-the-move.aspxI was fascinated to see that whereas 25% of all Jews are migrants, only 5% of Christians migrate and 4% of Muslims. Hindus and Buddhists on the whole stay put. And where do all of these migrants come from? The top five 'exporting' countries are Mexico (with over 12 million), China, Palestine, India and Vietnam. And where do they go? Well not too hard to guess the top destination - USA, but the next four might be a surprise - Saudi Arabia, India, Israel, and Hong Kong. Europe doesn't feature as a major recipient of migrants at all.
So what about this migrant mission force of 105 mission Christians who travel to another country for work or for other reasons? Well 78% of them end up in the (nominally at least) Christian countries of North America, Latin America and Europe. The other 28% however still represent an amazing 28 million people. Which church or mission agency could deploy 28 million Christian witnesses in Asia, Africa and the Middle East? But these people paid their own travel costs, found their own jobs, carried their own luggage and even organised their own language learning. What would it take for the churches in their countries of origin to equip them to be effective witnesses to the gospel of Jesus Christ in their new home countries? If only 1% were trained that would be well over a quarter of a million Christians living the gospel and sharing the good news of Jesus right across Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Wow!
This report is packed full of interesting statistics but I must end this posting before it gets too long. So, one last fact ... 16% (2.3 million) of all migrants entering the Gulf States are Christian. Think about it!
Thursday, 8 March 2012
The outburst had been stimulated by a paper from a Malaysian mission leader in which he raised the controversial question of 'dual belonging'. In other words, when a Buddhist or Muslim becomes a follower of Jesus do we Christians need to ask them to make a radical break with all their cultural/religious past or is there some way in which they can belong both to their 'heritage' community and their new found Christian community - both at the same time. In a small group discussion someone suggested that Jesus himself was a 'dual belonger' because he never left the community of Jewish faith but critiqued it from the inside whilst founding his own new community of 'Kingdom belongers'. We were also challenged to explain why we never ask secular Europeans to make a radical break with their former secularism, materialism and Enlightenment beliefs when they decide to follow Jesus, whilst we make very costly demands on former Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists.
Of course no heretics were burnt tonight. And we are still not quite sure which of us are the heretics!
Wednesday, 7 March 2012
I was listening to Rev. I K Abraham, the General Secretary of the Friends Missionary Prayer Band as he led a Bible study this morning for a group of mission leaders brought together by Faith2Share. He spoke on Ephesians 3:6 "This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise of Christ Jesus." I have read that verse many times but never heard the truth behind it expressed so simply and clearly as Abraham put it this morning - the insiders are outside and must be brought in. If we look with the eyes of God there are no 'outsiders', no divisions, all are 'insiders', but some of the 'insiders' are still outside the fellowship of the church and we need to welcome them in.Abraham went on to tell us of the hundreds of men and women in the Punjab, India, who every day discover that because of Jesus' love for them (his costly love for them on the cross) they are 'insiders' - they belong, they are part of the body of Christ ... and so the visible church grows by hundreds each day.
Now I'm wondering who I treat as outsiders when they are really just insiders left outside in the cold.
Saturday, 3 March 2012
As we talked we came to agree that in some societies we set our task goals, our speadsheets, our outcomes, etc. and then as we get going in the business venture, or whatever it is, we begin to form relationships which in the end can become very strong relationships. In other societies, however, we set relational goals - I really want to get to know that guy, I would love to spend more time with her, I could learn a lot from that person, etc. and then as we begin to work on the relationships we discover things we could do together, a business (or a mission or a church) is born and before we know it all sorts of 'task goals' have been achieved simply because some folks enjoyed spending time together.
So ... tasks that build relationships, or relationships that get tasks done - does it matter? Either way the job gets done. The question we parted on and did not answer was, "Did Jesus have "realtional" or "task" goals in his ministry?"
Friday, 2 March 2012
Last time I was at this same gathering I shared fellowship with a great Christian leader from Dagestan, Pastor Artur. He is not here today. He was gunned town in his home town over a year ago. One more martyr from a region which has given more blood for the life of the church than any other during the past century. It is hard to be here without Artur, but we rejoice in the church he planted.
Wednesday, 29 February 2012
But then I started to get worried. He crossed the line. I have come across Muslim fundamentalists, Hindu fundamentalists, and a good few Christian fundamentalists but now I found myself being frightened by a science fundamentalist. According to Nurse science has ALL the answers and there is really no place for politics, religion, belief or conviction, in fact they only get in the way and mess things up.
Towards the end he also drifted into a scary nationalism. Science is to be used to advance the cause of Britain, to make Britain great, to overcome our 'competitors' - he used that word a lot. For me that did not even ring true with science because, in my limited experience, many of the great scientific advances of recent years have come from trans-national cooperation.
Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Let me explain. This call makes no sense at all when you read it in context. In the first few verses of what Mark describes as "the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ" we see the full reality and power of the Trinity. God the Son is found fully present on earth in the person of Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth. The Spirit of God descends and takes full control of the situation driving Jesus first into the wilderness and then into ministry in Galilee. God the Father speaks - giving his full approval to this amazing expression of the Missio Dei, the outreaching of God in creation. The full relational life of the Trinity is powerfully described in these few verses and the focus of that God-life is made clear - the redemption of all creation, beginning with us.
So why is the call of Simon and his mates so ridiculous? Because it is so unnecessary, it adds nothing at all to the action. Son of God, empowered by the Spirit and approved by the Father needs no assistants! But the amazing thing is that He actually chooses to invite our participation.
If you really grasp the truth of that verse you will never again dare even to think you are doing God a favour by participation in His mission.