The Catch of Fish

And so Jesus said to Simon,

"Put out into the DEEP water, and let down your nets for the catch!"

Simon answered,

"Lead the Way, Jesus!"

Er actually, that doesn't sound right…what was it he said again?

"To hear is to obey?"

That doesn't sound right either, where is the bible?

Here it is:-

And so Jesus said to Simon,

"Put out into the DEEP water, and let down your nets for the catch!"

Simon answered,

"Master we have worked all night long, but have caught nothing…."

What in effect is Simon saying to Jesus?

Is he implying, You're obviously not a fisherman or you would know these waters, and the right time to put out nets…certainly not at this time of day?

Is he saying, Are you crazy Jesus, we're exhausted , you know how hard we've worked through the night, you should know we're tired and we need a rest?

Could he be trying to persuade Jesus that the fish stocks are depleted, there are none to be had, that their business was in decline?

Is it not true that we have the same excuses today, when Jesus bids us do something?

Do this for me………….You can't be asking me to do that it's crazy?

Go there say this……….I'm exhausted….but I will renew your strength…. send someone else….

Tell them about me…….But no-one wants to know

"Yet… if you say so…I will let down the nets" Simon adds, sounding reluctant, perhaps out to prove Jesus wrong? So they leave the shallows and put out into deep water.

It's a frightening thing to put out into DEEP WATER.

I was snorkelling a few years ago, on a special 'retirement from school' holiday, and it was really wonderful seeing so many fascinating species of tropical fish in their own environment, and I was quite happy and warm, and feeling very safe in the shallows, but I remember turning to the deep water once and swimming a little way out.

I looked down over the coral shelf as I left it, and as I swam away it felt as though I was flying soundlessly over a white cliff. It was then that I felt cold, and a little anxious. I couldn't see the bottom of the ocean any more, and various questions flew through my mind;-

What if my snorkel fills with water now?

What if I see a big shark?

What is right behind me now?… and I couldn't get back to shallow water quick enough.

As Christians it is comfortable in the shallows, in fellowship, in worship, doing maintenance work. It's enjoyable, familiar, safe, warm, we can handle it.

To be called into mission is where it becomes uncomfortable, lonely, disturbing even fearful.

A famous poster once said, A ship in the harbour is safe, but that's not what ships are for!

We may think that to be an apostle or even a missionary is a specific calling to only the special few, but Jesus called all of his disciples to make other disciples. It's something we’re all capable of. We just have wrong notions of how it should be done.

We shouldn't think in terms of evangelism as 'Billy Graham, happy-clappy music and hyper-active people. No what we need to do is 'the best we can with what we have'.

We are not talking about echo sounders, refrigerated holds or large trawlers here in this story, we are talking small fishing vessels and rough nets and willing people.

Robin Gamble, of Springboard, (a leader in a course soon to be looked at by clergy and P.C.C.'s in this area) has this to say in his book 'The Irrelevant Church'

'Now, in this day and age, more than at any other time in history, Christianity, nationally, is haemorrhaging, and we are losing members at an alarming rate, especially, but not exclusively, in working class areas. We are reaching the point where we just do not have the members to carry out any sort of effective mission, be it social or spiritual. Unless we recover the ability to produce new Christians in substantial numbers we will soon virtually disappear.'

And so, what about the harvest of fish that needs to be brought in?

One thing's for sure, the FISH will not be dropping into our laps.

"WHOM SHALL I SEND, AND WHO WILL GO FOR US?" says the Lord to Isaiah, in our Old Testament reading.

Note the word 'Go'.

(example of Seaside Parish documentary on T.V. how the curate& parishioners provided 60 ploughman's lunches , no-one came, the villages they had invited were all in the pub; and no-one had the sense to go to them in the pub instead, and take the meals there and get to know them!)

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What will be our answer, and what will we have to do, if we agree and say, "Here I am send me. I'm willing to go for you?"

It is my belief that God will not give us more than we can cope with, and will provide for our every need.

The boats did not sink under the weight of the massive catch the disciples made. It became a joint effort, others were brought in to give assistance, God provided the support and the extra help.

We will find ourselves amazed as prayers are answered and we come to see the fruit of our labours.

It says that 'all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken.'

We will find ourselves humbled and able to see ourselves in a new light. We will be more aware of our own sinfulness and weaknesses, in a new awareness of God's presence, through seeing him at work in our lives.

Didn't Simon fall at Jesus' knee when he witnessed the miracle, and said, "Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!"

What about Isaiah who was brought to his knees in God's presence, "Woe is me I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips."

I heard a testimony yesterday, where a young woman was invited to make a sacramental confession, there on the spot, as she spoke with a monk from Alnmouth Friary. Up until that point she had assumed that everyone's sins could be forgiven, but not hers. Her breakthrough came in that confession, when she found herself in the presence of God; when she realized that she too, could be included in God's plans, when she too could find forgiveness. She's now a priest.

Like all good fishermen we must play the waiting game, we will know the right moment to let down the master's net.

It could be that we could invite friends from outside church to come along to a special service…they may say 'No thank you, but that doesn't stop us saying, 'On well I'll ask you another time, you might be able to come then' Let's not give up trying!

We must learn to work alongside others in a team, and speak positively and encouragingly to each other.

If I had a needle in my hand, which measured how negative and how positive our comments are in life, would our dial drift to the right or the left? Let's be honest, are we critical most of the time, or encouraging? Are we a Negative or Positive force in our church and in our families?

We must be prepared to work hard, and take calculated risks.

Now I'm NOT advocating that we should now begin to walk alone to church along dark alleys, I'm not saying that . . . we have to be wise. . . but there have been many and still are many people , who are called to risk and danger for their beliefs.

We must realize how urgent and vital the call is.

Have become complacent and automatic in our worship, so much so that we now come to do our duty, then breathe a sigh of relief when we can go home, if so, that falls short of what God wants of us, as fisher folk. Can we make changes? Have we formed mechanical habits, from which we need to be set free?

We say . . .

But we've always done it this way!

But our last vicar said this,

But that's not the way we've been taught…

the list is endless.

I'm sure we all care that there continues to be a Christian presence in Willington and Battlehill and Howdon, but how that is going to be, is a question we must all ask ourselves, it's a question which must take priority. It's not down to any one person, or team rector or curate.

It's a question for each one of us to face up to and discuss, and solve quickly.

We may all be unsure of the why's and the wherefore's of Outreach, but the one thing we ought to be certain of, is that once we decide to launch out into the deep individually or as one, we may rest assured that Jesus will be in our boat, encouraging us and saying,

'Do not be afraid, from now on you will be catching people!'

so let us pray that he will

LEAD THE WAY

And let our response be,

TO HEAR IS TO OBEY.

AMEN