Sermon for February 6, 2022             Fifth After Epiphany                “Cast your Net”

Do you remember the time…?

The people of Corinth have just heard the text on love, we all know it well, ‘love is patient love is kind…these three abide, faith, hope and love but the greatest is love’. Now the people are wondering just when the Messiah will return. They are anxious for his promised return to bring about a new way of being in the world…as if his first appearance was not enough. The people are restless and drifting and losing interest. And Paul says remember when you first encountered Jesus? Remember how that felt? Remember the promises you made to Him and to yourself?

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah…but when is he coming back? The answer from Jesus is ‘no one knows the day or the hour’ but the first generations of followers after Jesus resurrection held to the firm conviction that it would be during their lifetime. From our view we know that Jesus has not returned, and yet we wait, impatiently maybe but we wait.

Do you remember the time when you knew for sure that Jesus was going to make a difference in your life? For some it was dramatic and is etched into their minds forever. For others it was a slow realization that Jesus was important, a knowing that the teaching of Jesus was and are a foundation for life. No matter the how, what I am asking of you today is to remember. It might have been confirmation or baptism, a conversation or a moment in nature, but remember.

For me it was a slow steady realization of the importance of Jesus and his teaching. I most likely drove my family and Sunday school teacher’s crazy with all the questions and wonderings. I was involved in the church but did not consider ministry. St. Mary’s opened my eyes to the realm of urban planning and economics and it was not until half way through my last semester that the call to ministry became clear. The rest is a long story for another day.

To be sure we are part of a ‘larger than us’ story and our part is vital, even essential as believers actively wait for Jesus to come again. This waiting and working is hard work, made more challenging as we try to live faithfully into the teaching of Jesus in our 21st century context.

Take Simon for example. He was in tax debt to Rome and payment time was approaching. Being late on paying Rome was not good and the outcomes are all bad. So after fishing all day, Simon when out and fished all night. From sundown to sunup Simon fished. Casting his net, hauling it in, casting it again and hauling it in…and each time empty. Over and over…all night. I can only imagine his fatigue and sense of foreboding loss as he headed back to shore. And there a stranger meets him and tells him to cast one more time. What Simon really thought is not recorded but after some time and to if nothing else get rid of this pest, Simon casts his net one more time, this time on the other side of the boat.

From our limited vantage point it may seem that we are not accomplishing very much. With the influence of churches in decline, people moving away from religion or not being a part of religion like their parents or grandparents, with community and social good being displaced with ‘my rights’ and the lingering effects of COVID, it is little wonder that we are exhausted and want to give in to apathy. When someone comes along and says ‘do it this way’ we are understandably annoyed. I would argue that most of the time we ignore and continue on, but sometimes, out of weariness or an attitude of ‘if I do this will you leave me alone’, we do what, for all intents and purposes seems like a futile act.

All of a sudden Simons boat was tipping due to the large catch in the net, help arrived and two boats were filled to overflowing with fish. Simon’s response was ‘turn from me, I am a sinful man’ to which Jesus replied ‘come follow me and you to Andrew and James and John, come follow me’ I will open your eyes to wonder and joy in God. No more will your life be ‘same thing over and over’ I will show you a new way of being.

I am used to doing things the same way, it is comfortable and I expect the same is true for you. But what if we followed through on that crazy idea from the newcomer? What if we did try things differently? I know it would push my edges and yours too. And if we did would our nets be filled and our call from Jesus affirmed?

What I do know is that if Simon did not cast his net on the other side the story would have ended very differently. In this age of COVID weariness and mind numbing social media the time is right for Jesus to place in our midst that crazy idea that we for sure won’t work…or will it.