Luke 5:1-11 (This Sunday's Gospel which I will not be preaching on - keep reading!)
1 Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, 2 he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch." 5 Simon answered, "Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets." 6 When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!" 9 For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people." 11 When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.
There are some Sundays when we gather for worship and find some real treasures in our assigned readings (some Sundays not so much!) This week I will be focusing much of my attention on the first reading but there are some lessons to be found in the assigned Gospel reading written above.
First of all, they had been fishing all night and came up empty. I can only imagine the look on the face of Peter (a fisherman) when Jesus (a carpenter) makes the "brilliant" suggestion of dropping the nets on the other side of the boat. Have you ever had someone who knows absolutely nothing about your job try to tell you how to do your job? Don't you love that? As silly (and unlikely) as this all seems, I think that there is a point here. Sometimes the tried and true, what we do over and over again doesn't work and we need to try something different. This can be true of family life, work, the way we take care of body, mind, and spirit, our relationships, and the church.
Secondly, they are being asked to put out into deep water which is risky. Sometimes playing it safe doesn't bring the changes we need in life. Sometimes we do need to take risks and trust that God and people who love us will be there if we fail.
Next, there are those days when we just need to keep fishing. We need to keep at it even in those seasons when it doesn't seem to be making a difference. In good times and bad, we know our gifts and we know our calling and we remain faithful.
Finally, even though Peter is fearful and sees himself as unworthy of the Lord's encounter and call, Jesus does not seem to be phased at all. He tells Peter, "Do not be afraid" and then calls him to the new thing that God is doing in his life. God knows our deepest needs better than we know them ourselves, God sees qualities and gifts in us that we don't always readily recognize. God knows that there is so much more to our lives than anything we can see now.
How might God be calling you to love? To forgive? To strengthen? To trust? To serve? We gather as God's people to discern God's calling in our lives and to be reminded that we will have what we need to follow. I am so grateful for the tremendous responsibility and wonderful privilege of being a servant leader among you and I look forward to what God is calling us to do and to be in the year ahead See you in church!
Grace and peace,