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Sunday Message for 10 February 2019: “Cast a Spiritual Net”

Today’s message from Luke 5: 1-11 reveals more than a fish story.  This scene of Jesus’ disciples fishing led to something far greater than a bunch of floppy fins in the bottom of their boat.  Jesus leveraged the opportunity to remind his closest followers that there is more to life than being preoccupied with the day’s catch.  Jesus’ monumental words continue to inspire: “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people” (Luke 5: 10b).

Are you ready to catch people?  What did Jesus mean by this?  As was usual, Jesus conveyed a deep spiritual sense behind his literal words.  Jesus’ language alluded to the way in which his disciples were supposed to help connect people with God.  In the fishing narrative, the nets used to catch fish also metaphorically represent the gospel, which is the good news of God’s love reaching for and connecting with humanity.  So, when Jesus mentioned catching people he wanted his followers to share the wondrous, encouraging news of God’s love.

Whereas fish are caught for food, God’s people catch by helping people draw closer to the Master Fisherman.  The disciples were disturbed because they couldn’t catch actual fish in their woven nets.  But Jesus reminded them that their true task would be the gathering of people into God’s kingdom.  Do you consider yourself to be a spiritual fisherman?  As God’s follower, that’s precisely what you are called to be.  You fish virtually by doing outreach, as you focus on your mission to spread Jesus’ good news to every living creature.

Fishing for souls is valuable because as a person of faith, you are invited to be an active disciple.  Discipleship is partnering with God to help make new Christians.  Don’t worry about sailing your boat in rough seas.  God is with you, and everywhere you go, there are folks who are swimming in life’s ocean.  Often, people get caught in the storms of life, losing direction and turning to substances and self-destructive behaviors.  As God’s child, you are equipped with more than a fishing pole and hooks.  You have the mighty safety net of God inside you, spirit-to-spirit, because God is love and spirit.  You needn’t have a theology degree to talk to someone about your faith.  Be ready to share your relationship with God because in doing so you may help rescue a soul tossed by debilitating waves.

Aside from serving God by sharing your faith, recall that the biggest factor in church growth is the simple act of inviting others to your place of worship.  With this in mind, it’s worth repeating today’s theme: “Have you gone fishing today?”  Cast the net of faith into your community and you may be surprised at what you catch.  Everywhere you go, people are searching and yearning for greater joy and meaning.  Help them to find life-saving bearings by drawing them toward the Almighty.  You can be the vital life-line which God uses to reach those who are lost on life’s sea.  You are crucial to God’s plan.  Your uniqueness as an individual means that you can potentially reach people in a way no one else can.

St. John church is positioned well, like a superbly sailed vessel.  We can sail any way God leads us, without the crosswinds of burdensome bureaucracy or distracting doctrines.  Where and how we fish is up to us, under God’s guidance, and we are free to be whom God calls us to be.  Muster courage and don’t fear casting your spiritual net into deeper, challenging waters.  Life’s currents can periodically take any of us into unchartered seas.  As you fish, pray that the God of all waters will use you effectively, to reach those who are awash with troubles, alienated from the Almighty.  Persevere in your task because fishing for souls will reward you with a spiritual catch that generates food for your soul.

–Reverend Hoxey

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