February 13 2022 – Sunday Worship Posted
- On February 13, 2022
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My hope is that you have had a good week! Really … that is my hope! That we have been able to absorb the cold of winter and look past the disruptions and protests, to focus on the blessings that we have. And more than that to appreciate that in the conversations that we share and the care that we express to one another that God is present with us through it all.
I have had the refrain from the first hymn stuck in my head! Let heaven rejoice and earth be glad have been words of praise that have kept me buoyant all week. I hope that they have the same affect on you!
The remaining two hymns pick up on the theme of todays refection … and once again encourage us to reflect upon how we can live lives of discipleship.
- Let Heaven Rejoice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Svm99U4jsrQ
- Here I am Lord … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZK-5v9gMTI
- Will you come and follow me … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zk6IUalJ3sk
Church Opening: In-person worship service at Knox 16 will recommence on Sunday, February 27, 2022 at 10:30am. I hope to see you in a couple of weeks! For the safety of all of us we will continue to socially distance, wear masks and refrain from singing.
Annual Meeting: The Annual Meeting will be held on Sunday, March 20th following our service of worship. This is an important event in the life of our congregation, and I encourage everyone to make the commitment to be present.
And if anyone would like to have a pastoral visit, please reach out to Patrick at email@example.com and we will set a time when we can meet together.
February 13, 2022
I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;
2 I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness;
for you have exalted your name and your word
3 On the day I called, you answered me,
you increased my strength of soul.
4 All the kings of the earth shall praise you, O Lord,
for they have heard the words of your mouth.
5 They shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
for great is the glory of the Lord.
6 For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly;
but the haughty he perceives from far away.
7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve me against the wrath of my enemies;
you stretch out your hand,
and your right hand delivers me.
8 The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.
Luke 5: 1-11
5 Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, 2 he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3 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.
4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” 6 When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. 7 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.
8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; 10 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.” 11 When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.
Reflection: Words that Inspire
For the past couple of weeks, we have been reflecting on the words of Jesus that he spoke in the synagogue and the response of the people who heard him speak there. The words Jesus spoke outlined his mission – to give sight to the blind, to set the captives free, to bring good news to the poor, (see words T) … to proclaim the favor of God. These were words that inspired the people when they first heard Jesus speak them. And then those same words challenged the people as Jesus interpreted the words of Scripture in light of his mission to all people, not just to some who considered themselves the chosen few. In the end, the people gathered in the synagogue, rejected Jesus and his message.
Today we have another story where people hear Jesus speak words that challenged and inspired; however today the outcome is completed different. In the story of Jesus and the fisherman, Simon hears the words of Jesus and is inspired to become a disciple … the first disciple of Jesus. What is evident in this story is the life-altering power of God’s word – spoken, heard and followed.[i]
But why the different responses? What was it about the message that Jesus proclaimed that had the people in the synagogue want to throw him off the cliff and had Simon make the decision to become a disciple?
Did Jesus change his message as he walked from Nazareth to the lake of Gennesaret? Thinking to himself that he probable should teach something a little more palatable and a little less challenging? You have to wonder, if, as he walked, he was worried that the people by the lake would want to grab him and drown him! And yet there is something in us that knows that Jesus would have been consistent in his teachings … the difference, we expect, in not in the teacher or the lesson but in the listeners and the way that they understood what was being taught. And if this is the case, then today we should probably spend a few minutes reflecting on Simon. Because the words that he heard Jesus speak, (and the actions that he saw Jesus perform) had such an affect on his life, that he became a disciple of Jesus.
I think that the part of the story, which is telling, is the part where Jesus says to Simon, “Do not be afraid.” Because when we think about it for a second, this story if frightening!
I expect that many of you would have had this story explained as I have often heard it explained. That Simon was tired after fishing when Jesus happened by … followed by the crowds. After hearing Jesus speak and compelled by being in the presence of the Divine and witnessing the miracle of the miraculous catch, Simon repents that he is a sinner and immediately followed Jesus leaving behind his fish, his boat and his old life. You have probably also been told at the end of the sermon that you also needed to make the choice to follow Jesus in such a way.
At first when I heard this story in this way it was frightening – the thought that what I had to do to be a follower of Jesus, a good disciple, was to leave my job and my family … was frightening. But I grew up on the sacrifices that Jesus made and the sacrifices that we also needed to make to please God. Giving things up and denying ourselves were the messages that were pounded into the faithful who would listen.
However, over time such a message became less frightening. Like the bogey man who was hiding in the closet … over time the threat became less real … and I grew up and moved on. No longer, was I, or many people who have heard the story in this way, frightened by its implications … for it no longer was a story that challenged or inspired. It was no longer a story that contained the life-altering power of God’s word that needed to be followed.
Quite frankly, heard in this was – the story contains nothing to be afraid of … for this story is no longer relevant! The experiences of miracles as interpreted literally from the Bible no longer hold the place in the imagination of the people in our North American context … and many, many people who have not experienced the overpowering presence of the Divine nor have witnessed the big miracles as they were described … have concluded that there is no point … if there ever was at all. And because of the way that Jesus message has been interpreted and preached many in our modern-day world have rejected Jesus and are no longer open to hearing his message.
So let’s engage this story in a different way. In a way that I hope will be both challenging and inspiring. I want you to imagine that you are Simon. You are a fisher. You have a boat and a livelihood. Each day you rise early before the sun has risen and you row or sail out onto the lake to fish. Some days the catch is good and some days the catch isn’t. However, while life isn’t easy nor overly predicable you do have a sense of control over your situation. You do have a boat after all … and so your economic situation is better than most and for the most part you are able to take care of your family. Yes, Simon had a family. (Luke 4: 38-39) Or at least a mother-in-law, who we are told that Jesus healed at an earlier part of this story
I could be wrong, but I sense that on the morning when Simon and his partners landed their boats that their thoughts were not focused on trying to find ways to leave their situation. I do not expect that they were either contemplating a “career change” or looking for some sort of adventure as a distraction to the mundane routine of the day-to-day life of a fisherman. No, I expect that, just as the story suggests, they were cleaning their nets. Putting away their equipment and preparing their boat for the next mornings fishing … engaged in the routine that they went through each day.
So picture Simon, with a shrug and a nod, anchor his boat a little way off shore when Jesus asked him to. We know at the very least that Simon would have know about Jesus and his teachings – for we are told that Jesus had been travelling the countryside and the positive words of Jesus message were resonating with the people who heard him speak. More likely Simon and Jesus were acquaintances and possibly friends, which would explain why Jesus was at Simon’s house as well as the reason why his mother-in-law, when she was healed, got up and served them.
So on that day when the crowds were pressing in on Jesus to hear him speak, it is not too much of a stretch to assume that Simon would have known Jesus and heard his message of good news to the poor! So the night is over, the work is done – what harm could it do to listen to the teacher who had healed your mother-in-law and has asked to borrow your boat? (pause)
We are not told for how long Jesus spoke that day. Nor are we told the words that Jesus spoke. But we do know that they were words that inspired Simon. It was one thing to let the preacher use your boat for a little while so that he could speak to the crowds … it is an entirely different thing to agree to set sail or row back out into the lake to begin to fish again. For that is exactly what Jesus asked Peter to do. Verse 4 tells us that …
When Jesus had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”
The request by Jesus is more than just a little inconvenience, and so to say yes to such a request – OK, I’ll do it – would take more than the desire to appease a stranger.
Think about it for a second. What kind of relationship would you have to have with a person in order to do something that would be a tremendous amount of work – let’s say 4 hours of physical labour, AND something that your knowledge and experience tells you would be a waste of time. Is there anyone with whom you would waste 4-hours on, when you know that what they have requested would be fruitless at best and frivolous at worst?
I suppose if you had to you would. If your boss demanded it and he or she was paying you to do the work. But that is not the expectation here. Jesus provides an invitation, and Simon, in spite of his misgivings, says yes. What kind of relationship must they have had for Simon to say yes? What level of comfort? What level of intimacy? What level of trust? (pause)
What kind of relationship did Simon and Jesus have before that day when Jesus showed up on the shoreline? For sure they were not strangers and possibly they were friends … at the very least Jesus was someone who Simon respected and trusted. And the message that Jesus shared was one that both challenged and inspired him.
But there another thing to notice in this story of Simon’s inspiration that are different than the indifference and rejection that Jesus reception in the synagogue. Jesus meets Simon at his place of work, in the midst of the struggles of his life. Engagement with God was not something that Jesus limited to the synagogues. Where the important mission was occurring was in the day-to-day routine of life. And that both challenged and inspired Simon!
I wonder … are we challenged and inspired by the words of Jesus to bring good news to the poor?
I wonder … do we have a relationship with God that is intimate and where there is trust?
I wonder … have we encountered God in the midst of our everyday lives?
For Simon the implications of these questions were frightening. For Jesus is saying that no longer is worship of God in the synagogue the way that I want to be in relationship (if it ever was). No, Jesus is saying, God wants to be present with humanity everyday, in the day to day. , and then he invited Simon to help people know this. (pause)
Heard in this way the story of the call of Simon is a story that is relevant to us and to our world. It is a story that says that God wants the inequalities and injustices of this world to be addressed. That God desires the captives to be freed, the blind to see and poor to hear good news. And that God invites us to be partners in this mission in the day-to-day moments of our lives … every day. And if that is not frightening … then I don’t know what is!
However, it is not something for us to be afraid of. For no matter how we consider our faults or shortcomings – what we have to offer, when joined in the power of God’s Spirit … will be enough.
Words that inspire … words that challenge.
Will you come and follow me? Was the question then … and it is the question now. Amen
[i] Feasting on the Word, Year C