Monday, April 15, 2013

Casting Our Nets

Sermon given at United Church of Beloit April 14, 2013

Psalm 30
30:1 I will extol you, O LORD, for you have drawn me up, and did not let my foes rejoice over me.
30:2 O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.
30:3 O LORD, you brought up my soul from Sheol, restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.
30:4 Sing praises to the LORD, O you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name.
30:5 For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
30:6 As for me, I said in my prosperity, "I shall never be moved."
30:7 By your favor, O LORD, you had established me as a strong mountain; you hid your face; I was dismayed.
30:8 To you, O LORD, I cried, and to the LORD I made supplication:
30:9 "What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the Pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness?
30:10 Hear, O LORD, and be gracious to me! O LORD, be my helper!"
30:11 You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
30:12 so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever.

John 21:1-19
21:1 After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way.
21:2 Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples.
21:3 Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We will go with you." They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
21:4 Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.
21:5 Jesus said to them, "Children, you have no fish, have you?" They answered him, "No."
21:6 He said to them, "Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish.
21:7 That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea.
21:8 But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.
21:9 When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread.
21:10 Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish that you have just caught."
21:11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn.
21:12 Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, "Who are you?" because they knew it was the Lord.
21:13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.
21:14 This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
21:15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs."
21:16 A second time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Tend my sheep."
21:17 He said to him the third time, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.
21:18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go."
21:19 (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, "Follow me."

Our Gospel lesson is from sometime shortly after the first Easter Sunday, after the resurrection. Peter and the other disciples have gone back to Galilee as Jesus told them. This is their home turf, where it all began. They have had extraordinary experiences the past 3 years with Jesus and now, Jesus was crucified, and came back and showed himself to the disciples.

Remember Peter, good old brash Peter, at the last supper said, vehemently, “I WILL NEVER deny you!”....but a few hours later, when the going got tough, after Jesus was arrested, Peter was asked about Jesus and said, “nope I don't know him, no not me, never heard of him”, just as Jesus had predicted.

to deny Jesus 3 times was a legal statement. This was the same as testifying in a court room. Peter had perjured himself. Makes you wonder, doesn't it, what was going through his mind now, some time later, back at home. He has burned his bridges, hasn't he?

He said, I am going fishing. Now this was not, “Oh I'm gonna go relax on the water, drown a few worms.” Fishing was his career, his lifeblood. He fished to make a living, to support his family. Peter went back to his old routine. To his old lifestyle. And the others said, we'll go with you. They went to do what was routine, what was familiar to them.

That's a very human tendency, we tend to do to what's familiar and comfortable. Even after a huge transition, we want to do what we're used to doing. Go to the same places, sit in the same spots.

And they fished, working hard all night, and didn't catch a thing. They didn't have any food, they didn't have anything to take home to the family, they sure didn't have anything to sell! What now?
And a man on the beach called to them, 'cast your nets on the other side of the boat” they did and WOW! There were so many fish they couldn't even haul in the net! This must have seemed familiar to them, it is how Peter and some of the others met Jesus the first time! It's recounted in the other gospels, but Luke 5 has the most detail. They had fished all night, didn't catch a thing and Jesus said, go out into the deep water. And they caught so many fish that their nets began to break and Peter had to call over to another boat to have John and James to come help.

Today, there were again SO many fish, but this time the nets did not break! That first time, they were not yet followers of Jesus. In today's story, they were. They did as he suggested, not even knowing it was Jesus, and were hugely successful! We can do all things through Christ!

And they go ashore and find Jesus is cooking breakfast :) and he invites them to come join him, giving them the bread and the fish. This echoes the stories of the miraculous feeding of 5000 told in all the Gospels, doesn't it? Jesus understands that people need sustanence, that our basic physical needs must be met. After breakfast, he talks to Peter.
Note that he speaks to him formally, He isn't just saying hey pass me another hunk of bread...He says, Simon, Son of John...this is a formal address, much like when I do a wedding and say, Mary Smith, do you take this man, John Jones to be your lawful wedded husband.... Jesus is speaking formally to Peter here.

and Jesus asks Peter 3 times, do you love me, each time saying some variation of “tend my sheep.” note that it is 3 times! This is again, a legal statement! Some of the commentators on this passage make much of the Greek words used here for “love” are 2 different words, one time it's Agape, the deep unconditional love that is of God, others it's Phileos, the more brotherly love! Some of the commentators also make much of the phrasing, feed or tend, my sheep. As much as I love the knowledge we can get from word studies, sometimes fussing over the details can bog us down. This is one of the passages that I think those details actually can distract us from the deeper message. Jesus says, if you really love me, in any way, then I need you to take care of my flock. And the word translated- tend, does indeed mean to care for, to meet the needs of. To feed, care for, watch over.

You see, people have to have our basic needs met before we can work on spiritual, creative labors. We need to be fed, clothed, sheltered. We need companionship. Jesus knew this. That is why He came to earth in human form. To feel what it's like to live in a fragile human body, to know how it feels to be hungry, to laugh, to feel tired, to hold a baby, to weep. And he showed his disciples and us, how to do these things with others. In community.

Love spurs action. God so LOVED the world, he gave God's only son...God loves, God gave...Love spurs action. If we love Jesus we are to care for the flock. Reach out...we, right here in Beloit, we have come together as a United Church for a purpose that is beyond this one hour on Sunday morning. Take a look at our covenant. “We Join together, we seek to reach out in Christian Love....” It means going beyond your normal routine....reaching out, start right here, invite someone you don't know well to sit with you in the pew or over coffee, ask how things are going, ask if you can ride together next week. 'how can I pray for you?” It means continuing to reach out financially, putting quarters in the Goat for Heifer International, giving extra money to help pay off our roof early! It means helping with Hands of Faith, hearing our guest speakers, working this summer with Vacation Bible School, and the Book Bag Bash, attending our extra functions, serving on a board or committee, cleaning up after coffee hour. There are so many ways to help out! And please do pray for each other!

In this church we have had a tough season. Our congregation recently lost some faithful members and several of our folks have had other losses besides, family and friends. Some of our folks are struggling with illness or injury and are probably not going to get back to what they were before. We need a lot of love and prayer right now. We need to love and pray a lot right now. And one of the fastest ways to help yourself is to help someone else.

Jesus says do you love me, tend my flock....and if you cast your nets the way I tell you, you will have astounding success!

How is this church, or any church for that matter, called to cast our nets?

Brennan Manning, the Signature of Jesus
The greatest need for our time is for the church to become what it has seldom been: the body of Christ with its face to the world, loving others regardless of religion or culture, pouring itself out in a life of service, offering hope to a frightened world, and presenting itself as a real alternative to the existing arrangement.

Our United Church is embarking this month on a vision process. Our individual churches did this a few years ago. It was not an easy process, but look where it got us! Our 2 churches have the same core values, but slightly different styles of living those values. We are working on blending those styles, and as we do this vision process, we are going to look at needs in this community and how best we can help. God has created this United Church...yes, we did the work, but this is not OUR creation!! God has created this United Church of Beloit for a bigger purpose! We will reach this bigger purpose by recognizing our own flawed humanity and reaching out with a heavenly love to another flawed human. We can help others to see God at work―even if we can't catch a single fish on our own! Jesus is asking today, do you Love me? How are we responding?

No comments:

Post a Comment