On Sunday, I shared with the congregation about a time I was sitting in a coffee shop with a great cup of coffee and a good book. I watched a man exit the bicycle shop next door with his bike and receipt in one hand and his cellphone (held up to his ear) in his other hand. He was apparently engaged in a lively conversation. He walked to his car, leaned the bike against the back and opened the trunk. For the next 10-15 minutes he tried to get the bike into the trunk while holding onto his receipt and phone. For most of the time, he held the phone between his ear and shoulder, but he needed the full range of his arm to lift the bike high enough to get it into his trunk. He was getting more and more frustrated by the minute. Finally, the conversation ended, he put the phone in his pocket, and effortlessly placed the bike into his trunk.

As I watched, I wondered why he didn’t just put the phone down (for 3 seconds!) in the first place. That would have saved him a lot of time and frustration! I reflected upon how difficult it often is for people to let go of things and to put them down even for a short while. Then I wondered what things I might be holding onto in life that were keeping me from doing things with less effort and greater joy. Most of the things I came up with were not physical things (like bikes), but beliefs, daily patterns and routines, and ways of being in the world.

In our Scripture lesson (Mark 1), Jesus’ disciples became disciples when they dropped what they were holding onto and followed Jesus. They dropped their fishing nets and walked away from those nets (and their boat, their careers, their families, their sense of financial security….). Letting go of the things that keep us from fully following Jesus is the beginning of discipleship for us. I think if we are being honest, we would have to say that it’s also the middle and end of discipleship; for we all have the propensity to hold on tightly to whatever it is that happens to be in our hands at the moment (physically and metaphorically speaking)–and we tend to grab onto a lot of things along the way!

Consider this question: “What are you holding onto in your life that keeps you from wholeheartedly following Jesus?” Then try this question: “Why not let go…and experience more joy, peace and love?”

I hope to see you in church on Sunday as we celebrate Holy Communion!

Kahu Alan Akana