Order of Service
|Prelude||O Sing the Mighty Power||Chris Johansen, piano|
|Confession & Forgiveness||Pastor Linda|
|Gathering Song||Jesus Calls Us; o’er the Tumult|
Chris Johansen, piano
Prayer of the Day
|Psalm 19||vs. 1-4; 9-14||Harry Johansen|
Chris Johansen, piano
|Scripture||Luke 5: 1-11||Pastor Linda|
|Hymn||Shepherd Me, O God|
Chris Johansen, piano
|Prayers of Intercession||Pastor Linda|
|Closing Hymn||Day by Day|
Chris Johansen, piano
Confession & Forgiveness
P: God of goodness and mercy, help us as we open our hearts and confess our sin.
Silence for reflection and self-examination.
God of justice,
C: we confess that in the pursuit of our own dreams and desires,
we have not always been civil, not always humane, not always right.
Guided by your Spirit, what we would like to do is change the world –
make it more possible for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves –
a simple gift You intend for all.
Help us to be your witnesses, so that we can, with your help, change the world.
Enlarge our hearts to love each other, to love our neighbor, to welcome the stranger, migrant and immigrant, and to love our enemy as a friend.
~ adapted from a quote from Dorothy Day
Gathering Song – Jesus Calls Us; o’er the Tumult
Jesus calls us; o’er the tumult
of our life’s wild, restless sea,
day by day his clear voice sounding,
saying, “Christian, follow me”:
In our joys and in our sorrows,
days of toil and hours of ease,
still he calls, in cares and pleasures,
“Christian, love me more than these.”
Jesus calls us! By your mercy,
Savior, may we hear your call,
give our hearts to your obedience,
serve and love you best of all.
The grace and loving-kindness of our Savior Jesus Christ be with you all.
And also with you.
Prayer of the Day
Jesus taught his disciples to cast a wide net — not for fish, but for people. Teach us this fishing craft. May we handle hearts gently. Let our minds be quiet and patient, our eyes searching beneath the surface, our hearts ready for your word. We pray in the name of the one who has caught us for your work in the world, Jesus our friend, brother, and Lord. Amen.
Psalm 19: 1-4; 9-14
1 The heavens declare the glo-|ry of God,
and the sky proclaims its | maker’s handiwork.
2 One day tells its tale | to another,
and one night imparts knowledge | to another.
3 Although they have no | words or language,
and their voices | are not heard,
4 their sound has gone out into all lands, and their message to the ends | of the world,
where God has pitched a tent | for the sun.
9 The fear of the Lord is clean and en-|dures forever;
the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous | altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold, more than | much fine gold,
sweeter far than honey, than honey | in the comb.
11 By them also is your ser-|vant enlightened,
and in keeping them there is | great reward.
12 Who can detect one’s | own offenses?
Cleanse me from my | secret faults.
13 Above all, keep your servant from presumptuous sins; let them not get dominion | over me;
then shall I be whole and sound, and innocent of a | great offense.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable | in your sight,
O lord, my strength and | my redeemer.
Scripture Reading – Luke 5: 1-11
Once, while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 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.
When he had finished speaking, he 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. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; 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.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.
The gospel of the Lord…..Praise to you, O Christ.
There’s a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore like a fool with a stick. A fine line, fishing line)
Give a man a fish and he has food for a day; teach a man to fish and you might have the house to yourself for the whole weekend.
Good things come to those who bait.
“Carpe Diem” does not mean “fish of the day.”
There is a profound romance associated with fly fishing for trout. But the romance exists in the mind of the angler and is in no way shared by the fish.
And finally, an Irish blessing: May the holes in your net be no larger than the fish you seek.
Maybe that was the problem. Peter was fairly well schooled in the schooling behavior of fish. He had (as he points out) been plying those waters all night. Maybe the holes in his net were too big.
It had been a fruitless, disappointing, tiring, depressing effort. He’s is hungry. His arms are sore, his back aches from hauling up those heavy nets time after time; rowing to a new spot, hauling up the nets, empty, and empty, and empty again; nets that just grew heavier in the bleak light before dawn. So as the sun crests the hills and gilds the water, Simon signals that it’s time to give it up. Go in. Head home. Get some sleep. And then Jesus shows up. He’s surrounded by a crowd trying to hear him teach. Simon numbers the crowd and shakes his head. “Could have sold the whole boatload to this crowd,” he mutters to himself, “if there had been a boatload.” He sinks down to tend his nets, spreads them out, cleans out the seaweed and shells. He’s only sort of listening to Jesus. Only sort of paying attention.
What we missed by not reading the sections in-between last week and this, is that Simon Peter knows Jesus. He knows him well enough to be wary; well enough not to turn his back on Jesus.
From Nazareth in last week’s reading, Jesus made his way to Capernaum on the shores of Lake Galilee, in the region of Gennesaret, and showed up in the synagog to teach, as was his custom. But a man came in who had a demon and the man begged to be healed – and Jesus did. As tongues started wagging, Jesus left the synagog and went to Simon Peter’s house. We don’t know how they knew each other, or what occasioned the visit. But Simon’s mother-in-law was sick with a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her, and he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it fled. And she got up and made them something to eat. She expressed her gratitude in serving Jesus through her vocation – hostess, homemaker and cook.
Word of the day’s remarkable events spread quickly and before you knew it, people were pouring in and filling Simon’s house with their sick and diseased and dying. And Jesus healed them until he was exhausted. Then he went up into the hills to get away and be alone. From there, Jesus went on to teach in other towns, other synagogs, until today’s story when he shows up again on the shore of Lake Genéssaret, leading another gaggle that’s crowding in on him, hungry for the word of God that he is and that he brings.
Seeing the empty boats, and seeing Peter, Jesus gets in and asks to be taken out a bit so he can teach and be seen and heard by all. Simon stands up, throws his nets back in the boat and says, “Yeah sure, why not, might be the best use for this boat.” While Jesus talks, Peter sits at the oars working them a bit, just enough to keep Jesus from drifting back in to shore. And when the people are dismissed and sent on their way, Jesus twists around in his seat and says to Peter, “Okay, now let’s go do some fishing. Pull on those oars and head for deep water.” And he grins… and maybe winks. I think he winks.
Simon looks at him with one of those long looks and sighs,
“You know… we have worked this water all night. We didn’t caught a single fish… there are no fish.” Silence. “But, okay, if you say so, let’s go give it try. I’ll let down the nets.”
Peter gives a discouraged, reasonable response – and maybe he agrees to the request to put out again because he’s being sort of polite and feels like he owes Jesus something for curing his mother-in-law, and maybe he agrees because he’s too tired to argue and he’s a bit peeved about the lack of fish, and so he’s thinking he’ll prove himself right and Jesus wrong and that’ll be the end of it.
You’ve felt that way sometimes, right? Discouraged? Agreeing to something expecting nothing, but open to the unlikely possibility of a good outcome. Or agreeing to something that’s bound to fail just to prove the point cause you’re feeling a bit ornery? Or agreeing, just to get it over with.
Well, we know what happens next — nets so full of fish they begin to rip, his boat so full of fish it begins to sink. Startled at what is happening, Simon is overwhelmed with fear and wonder. He yells for James and John to get out here, NOW! And watches as their nets come up straining against the flap of fish. Simon is ‘caught’ completely off guard. ‘Caught’ in the act of a miracle in his hands, a sign of the presence and power of God using his body, his boat, his nets. In the midst of his ordinary daily grind, after a particularly lousy night at work, he is ‘caught’ completely by surprise – by one who just reeled in his heart and mind and soul and strength – and this surprise catch changes everything, absolutely.
Instead of shouting and jumping for joy and trying to get his boat empty so he can fill it up again and then sell all these marvelous fish, Peter falls to his knees. Peter feels… what? What would you feel in that moment? Maybe his unworthiness, maybe the meaninglessness of what to this point has been his life, his work of pulling in nets, hoping for fish. Maybe he feels heart-melting awe… small, human. He is swamped by the overwhelming disparity between God’s power just made evident in Jesus and his own mortal self.
Whatever Simon Peter was feeling before and during this catch doesn’t really matter, of course. It doesn’t matter if he was feeling despair or weariness or excitable joy. It doesn’t matter because it was
a miracle not connected to Peter’s qualities or traits – or even his faith. There is no mention of faith.The nets go down, the nets come up and they are full of shimmering fish. It was an act of God. Simon saw the glory of God out of the box, out of place of scripture and temple.
And, even though we don’t typically say it this bluntly, the catch of fish, as told by Luke, implies that God doesn’t need our talents, doesn’t need our faith, hardly needs our willingness. God has power to provide fish. The lake was now full of fish. Peter was there, he was needed, simply, to notice.
And Peter can’t help but notice. Jesus quotes the angels: “Do not be afraid.” For unto you is born this day – in the midst of your ordinary pressures and frustrations and overly busy, complicated lives, in the midst of your ordinary worries and fears and work, in the middle of everything and nothing – an act of God is born; another one – that puts you in the company of this living one. Take notice of this agent of salvation. Stay present with Jesus.
And Peter and his partners did –
On this particular day at least, they were not models of great, successful fishermen. The very reason Jesus could commandeer Simon’s boat is because there were no fish in it — it was full of available space!
Jesus calls perfectly incapable people to follow him – capable fishermen, but way out of their depth in this new occupation of catching people. And suddenly we realize that the story isn’t about fishing… it never was. It’s about God’s agency. The moment we notice Christ’s presence, pay attention to the mystery, might be the very moment when God begins to use us in ways we never could have imagined.
Jesus told Peter to head out to deep water. That’s where you’ll get the catch – when you’re out over your head, out where you can’t see the bottom, where you can’t see the dangers or the treasures that lie beneath the waves. Christian mystics understood about deep water and dark woods – they understood that time spent in the depths of wilderness, emptiness, failure, uncertainty are the times of great possibility and clear revelation.
“Go out into the deep water, Peter, and cast your nets. Use the tools at hand, the nets you’re familiar with. It won’t matter – it’a not about the fine skill of fishing. It’s about going. It’s about being present.”
Use a classroom or a piano, use a computer or a counselor’s chair or a cup of coffee or your telephone or knitting needles or a tool belt – it doesn’t matter – the tools you have at hand will be enough. Because it’s not about your skill or your craft or your credentials. It’s about God…not good deeds. It always has been about God becoming known in ordinary ways. But there’s nothing ordinary about God.
When we’re operating in the deep we have to put certainty behind us and navigate by paying attention, noticing, by sensing, by … faith. Out there in the deep we are vulnerable. Like a fish out of water – but the other way around. And maybe that disorientation, that crisis point, that fear of not being able to touch the bottom, is necessary to get our full attention. Required for us to comprehend our true relationship to this life we take for granted, our relationship to the safety nets available.
Christian community is the net. God’s love is the net. Words of forgiveness, words of hope, words of challenge, words of justice, words of God – this is the net. The holy net of both fishing and safety.
Although they have just brought in the greatest catch of their fishing careers, Simon Peter, James, and John leave their boats and follow Jesus. I like to think they let go of one edge of the net and release their great catch back into the sea. I like to picture the flash and flurry of all those fish fanning out from the boats – redemption as the ones that got away. That morning on the shore of Lake Genéssaret, a remarkable encounter with a whole lot of fish has completely reoriented three fishermen’s lives.
Throughout the history of the church, the ministry and mission of God, has continued to exist and carry on despite the tenuous, and tremulous responses of the actual people involved. I find this to be a comforting thought.
Whether we are the fishermen or the fish is still a bit of the mystery, but the ancient image of the church as a fisherman’s boat tossed about on the sea, sustained by the presence of the living Lord, is appropriate in every age. The fishing boat in our own sanctuary has layers of symbolism and significance, but that is surely one of them as it sails toward the cross, sails toward the circle of the communion of saints. We, too, are sustained by the presence of the living Lord. We, too are called to notice the miracles of God’s presence and to join in the catch that has first caught us – heart and mind and soul and strength — out in the deep, in the wide net of God’s mercy and love. The net that changes everything, absolutely.
We pause for a few moments of reflection
Hymn – Shepherd Me, O God
Shepherd me, O God, beyond my wants,
beyond my fears, from death into life.
God is my shepherd, so nothing shall I want,
I rest in the meadows of faithfulness and love,
I walk by the quiet waters of peace.
Gently you raise me and heal my weary soul,
you lead me by pathways of righteousness and truth,
my spirit shall sing the music of your name.
Though I should wander the valley of death,
I fear no evil, for you are at my side,
your rod and your staff, my comfort and my hope.
You have set me a banquet of love
in the face of hatred,
crowning me with love beyond my power to hold.
Surely your kindness and mercy
follow me all the days of my life;
I will dwell in the house of my God forevermore.
Prayers of Intercession
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread and forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen
Hymn – Day by Day
Day by day, your mercies, Lord, attend me,
bringing comfort to my anxious soul.
Day by day, the blessings, Lord, you send me
draw me nearer to my heav’nly goal.
Love divine, beyond all mortal measure,
brings to naught the burdens of my quest;
Savior, lead me to the home I treasure,
where at last I’ll find eternal rest.
Day by day, I know you will provide me
strength to serve and wisdom to obey;
I will seek your loving will to guide me
o’er the paths I struggle day by day.
I will fear no evil of the morrow,
I will trust in your enduring grace.
Savior, help me bear life’s pain and sorrow
till in glory I behold your face.
Oh, what joy to know that you are near me
when my burdens grow too great to bear;
oh, what joy to know that you will hear me
when I come, O Lord, to you in prayer.
Day by day, no matter what betide me,
you will hold me ever in your hand.
Savior, with your presence here to guide me,
I will reach at last the promised land.
Go with the strength you have.
Go simply, lightly, gently
Go in search of Love.
And may the Spirit of God go with you. Amen