February 04, 2019
Rev. Nicolette Siragusa is the pastor of Bolton Congregational Church UCC.
Jesus said to Simon, "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch." Simon answered, "Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets." When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. 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.
Then Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people."
The fishermen know their business. They have probably been fishing the same way for a long time, methods passed down from generation to generation, in the same waters, once teeming with fish. Perhaps those safe, shallow waters have been over fished, or perhaps the particular fish they’re looking for have gone extinct, but their nets are coming up empty, and have been empty for a while.
It’s not that we don’t know what we’re doing. We know our business. We know how to worship, how to run Sunday School, how to raise money, how to facilitate a Bible study. We know how to fish these waters. We’ve been doing it for a long time.
But the waters have changed. Across our churches I hear people say, “We want young families.” “Our Christian Education program used to have three times as many kids as it does now.” “Sports.” How long will we wait in the shallows for the tide to change and the fish to return before we decide to move?
When Jesus told Simon Peter to go to deeper waters, Simon was skeptical. Yet, he trusted Jesus, even though Jesus was not a fisherman by trade. He was willing to try anything for a good catch.
As Christians, we know the business of ‘church’ so well, that we forget that Jesus calls us to fish. Are we willing to go where it’s risky, where it’s not as safe or predictable, to set out to the deeper waters? Or are we afraid of what might happen?
On that day with Jesus in the boat, their catch was so big that they had to call in another boat to help, and even then both boats were filled beyond capacity and started to sink. Abundance can be as scary as scarcity if you’re not ready for it.
I find it funny at the end of the story when Jesus tells Simon Peter, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people." I’ve always thought that Jesus meant ‘people-catching is less scary than fishing,’ but “Deadliest Catch” aside, I don’t know if I would agree. So maybe instead Jesus was preparing him to hear something really scary: “Don’t be afraid. [deep breath] From now on, you’ll be catching people.” Yes, fishing is risky, but with Jesus at the helm, we’re about to set out on a whole new adventure in uncharted waters.
Guiding Lord, when you call us to deep waters, may we be brave enough to follow your direction. Amen.
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Spring Glen Church UCC
Hampton Congregational Church
Asylum Hill Congregational UCC
This Week in History:
Feb. 9, 1964, (55 years ago) The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. It is estimated that 73 million people watched as Paul McCartney, age 21, Ringo Starr, 23, John Lennon, 23, and George Harrison, 20, took the stage following Sullivan's simple introduction "Ladies and gentleman...the Beatles" and started playing "All My Lovin'" in their U.S. television debut.
Starting With Scripture: February 04, 2019 , by Nicolette Siragusa.