Monday, February 08, 2010

Deep waters


"Great Catch"

Isaiah 6: 1-8; Luke 5: 1-11
******** United Church of Christ
February 7, 2010



Their fishing nets were empty when they first saw the Lord.
All night they had been fishing in the waters by the shore.
The Lord said, “Go to deep waters; cast your nets once more.”
And because they obeyed, they would never be the same.

Go to deep waters, deep waters, where only faith will let you go.
Go out to deep waters, deep waters;
Harvests of faith will overflow.
Harvests of faith will overflow.
Go.

It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it? You’ve been fishing all night. You’ve caught nothing. You’re tired. Hungry. Somewhat smelly. Discouraged. You’re washing the nets, ready to call it a loss and go home. Then someone, a leader, a teacher, someone who knows Scripture and some carpentry and not much about fishing tells you to try again, only this time to put the nets in deep water. Before you know it there are so many fish that you can’t pull the fraying nets into the boat; you have to call for help, ask your partners to come and join in the abundant catch.

Right there, in that moment, you have everything you could ask for. You have so many fish that maybe you could take a week or two off from fishing, which would have been unheard of in Jesus’ day. You’d have enough money to live on and perhaps a bit more to put away. You have friends with whom to share your great joy at such abundance and to share in the profits. You feel full, generous, almost giddy—that cup of mercy is overflowing—and you know who’s at the source of it all: this Jesus, the Master, sitting in your boat.


"Deep Waters", Gerald Folkerts
Maybe, like Simon Peter, you start to feel afraid and unworthy of it all. After all, who are you to deserve such fullness, such blessing? Who are you to be face to face with the Word made flesh and live and receive? Notice that he is referred to as Simon Peter, the Rock on which the Church is built, only when he is afraid and shameful. But then Jesus reassures him: “Do not be afraid.” In the previous chapter Jesus healed his mother-in-law of a high fever. Perhaps Simon Peter has seen enough to know that he is in presence of the undeniable power of God, probably the last thing any of us would expect to encounter when our work has come up empty. If we were wise, we’d be on our knees too.

And then, the coup d’├ętat, the unthinkable, the biggest twist of all: when they come to shore, they leave it all behind and follow Jesus.

Imagine your fondest dream for yourself, your biggest wish. What would it be? You’d have to go to deep waters to get it, make huge efforts when all hope seems lost. Suppose you get this fondest dream, this biggest wish: what would you look like, how would you be living?

Imagine your fondest dream for this church, your biggest wish. What would it be? Again, you’d have to go to deep waters to get it, make huge efforts when all hope seems lost. Suppose you get this fondest dream, this biggest wish: what would the church look like? And when I say church, I mean the people. What would the church be doing? How would the church be behaving in worship and in meetings and in mission?

So, as a person, as a church, you have everything you have ever asked for, BUT it comes in the presence of the undeniable power of God. You are surrounded and standing on and permeated by the Ground of All Being. What’s the first thought that comes into your mind? How do you feel? What do you say? What do you do?

And then the coup d’├ętat, the unthinkable, the biggest twist of all: you are invited to leave it all behind and follow Jesus, to go to the deepest waters of all. Instead of holding onto what you’ve been looking for, you’re going to help others find the meaning they’ve been searching for, the meaning that you’ve experienced and continue to experience in the presence of God, in the person of Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

What’s the first thought that comes into your mind? How do you feel? What do you say? What do you do?




You see, the boatload of fish wasn’t really about the fish. It was about Jesus. And leaving them behind wasn’t about the fish. It was really about Jesus. In the gospel of John we read: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples…but these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.”

The abundance of fish, the abundance of grace that we desire in our lives and in the life of this church is not about the grace but about Jesus that we may come to believe that he is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing we may have life in his name.


This story is all about the first, second and third of the twelve steps. It’s about admitting we need help to acquire grace, acknowledging the power from whence this grace comes and then surrendering our lives to that power that our lives may be changed.

So let’s put out to deep water, cast our nets, and when our nets come up to overflowing, let’s share it, celebrate it, and then leave it behind and follow Jesus, that our lives may never be the same.


They cast their nets and almost before they could begin,
their nets were overflowing and they had to pull them in.
And even though this was their greatest catch
their fishing days would end.
For they abandoned all when they heard the master’s call.

Go to deep waters, deep waters, where only faith will let you go.
Go out to deep waters, deep waters;
Harvests of faith will overflow.
Harvests of faith will overflow.
Go.
[1]




[1] Pepper Choplin. “Deep Waters”. Copyright © 2002 Beckenhorst Press, Inc.

2 comments:

Jan said...

"Deep waters" are where I'm flailing these days, so I really appreciate your sermon. And I love that cartoon!

Cynthia said...

I'll keep you in prayer, Jan.