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We’re in this boat together…but not for long…

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Some thoughts to help you see Jesus in your lives!

Listen to what I’m telling you: Open your eyes and look at the fields, because they are ready for harvest. 36 The reaper is already receiving pay and gathering fruit for eternal life,d so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together. 37 For in this case the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps. 38 I sent you to reap what you didn’t labor for; others have labored, and you have benefited from their labor John 4:35-38 CSB

Simon Peter told them, ‘I am going out fishing’; and they said, ‘We too will go with you.’ So they went out and embarked on the boat; and all that night they caught nothing. But when morning came, there was Jesus standing on the shore.”26 He passes by, close to his Apostles, close to those souls who have given themselves to him, and they don’t realize he is there. How often Christ is not only near us, but in us; yet we still live in such a human way! Christ is so close to us, and yet we can’t spare him an affectionate glance, a loving word, a good deed done by his children.

The angel told Mary Magdalene that Jesus would meet the disciples in Galilee – so we know Jesus knew they would go there, to return to their old ways, their old work. That without help they would go back to what they knew.

Even after knowing Jesus was risen from the grace – they still did this! They didn’t connect the Resurrection to the Mission of God, to draw all people tto Him.

But in their pain, in their anxiety, dealing with the change, they forgot this.

I think the church has done the same thing in the last 2 years. We have been struggling with COVID, many of us are helping people deal with grief, or struggling families, trying to hold up each other – all these things are good and right, and beneficial.

But we’ve forgotten who we’ve been sent to help, who we are called to serve, who we’ve been called to guide, as the Spirit calls them, into the realization that God truly loves them.

Even though they knew Jesus was there, that He had preceded Him there (Mark 16:7) they didn’t look for Him. And they didn’t look for the men they would catch. And so Jesus comes by – and reminds them the harvest is ready (Peter – feed my sheep!) He reminds them of His presence. amd the work they would share.

Perhaps they needed that moment set aside… perhaps not. It happened though, and Jesus refocused them on the ministry they had together. MWe aren’t any different. This time of COVID has been our time in the boat together. Now its time to throw our nets in on the other side, and see the catch God has for us to bring in – a great harvest of souls.

Let’s go fishing my friends… but not for fish – the Spirit says it time to gather all God would call!

Escrivá, Josemaría. Friends of God . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Don’t Worry, be catching

Concordia Lutheran Church
February 10, 2019

Don’t Worry, Be Catching
Luke 5:1-11

Jesus, Son and Savior

May the grace, the mercy and peace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ so comfort you, so put to rest your worries, that you can go fishing with Jesus!

If you teach a man to fish…

Every once in a while, you hear a saying that someone says comes from scripture, but when you start to think about it, it is actually quite contrary to scripture.  This one came to mind in regard to this sermon.

If you give a man a fish, you fed him for a day, but if you teach a man to fish….

he has to buy rods, graphite reels, lines, boxes, boats, trailers, coolers, sonar fish finders and a whole catalog of other things!

I suppose there is a corollary, if you teach a man to fish for men, you have to build a church, call a pastor, pass budgets, elect board members, hire musicians, plan woman’s teas, family fun nights etc..

But not let’s get ahead of ourselves!

In our gospel today, Jesus is going to do some pretty incredible things.  He’s going to teach the massive crowd, he’s going to cause a miraculous catch, but there is something much greater that will happen, so incredible that Peter and his partners will leave a once in a lifetime catch to rot on the beach.

And God will do to you the same thing today….

But first, we have to witness Peter freak out…

What caused Peter to stress out?

I must wonder about Peter, who spent his life working as a fisherman, as he first dropped the nets as this silly rabbi instructed.

I get the feeling he did it with a little sarcasm and even more disbelief.  Yeah, you want me to go right back to where we dragged our nets, all night long,  as if all of a sudden, during the hottest part of the day a thousand fish…

Uhmmm… HELP!!!!!

Got love Peter, because every once in a while he gets it. 

I mean, I don’t think he listened to the Rabbi teach all that much, he may have even fallen asleep in the boat. The load of fish in the nets convinced him something was up. Because he goes from struggling with the catch to having a full blown anxiety attack, right there on the boat.

Hear it again, “When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.” For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. 10 His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed.”

Peter collapses in fear, he begs Jesus to leave.  In Greek, the phrasing pictures fear picking up Peter, it seizes him, and he can’t stand against it, so he collapses into the bottom of the boat.

Get out of here, don’t you know what a sinner I am?  If you don’t leave, I am a goner!

It is a common story in scripture, whether it is Isaiah in our Old Testament reading, or Moses, or Elijah, whether it is David or Paul on the road to Damascus or John as God gives him the vision of Jesus in Revelation.   Even those who encounter angels panicked, stressed out, and realized how ill-prepared we are to be in the presence of God

We are sinners, we don’t belong in Almighty, most Holy, most pure God’s presence.

And Peter realized it, and begged God to leave him.

Would we do the same, if we realized the depth of our sin, or the heartache it caused God?

Or do we take our sin to casually, just as if we think God will forgive this one again, that the damage we do will be taken care of?

What does Jesus offer us?

And as Peter collapses in the boat, Jesus says something quite amazing,

Fear not. Let’s go and catch something that really matters.

You see, unlike the times I go fishing, the word in Greek isn’t about sitting there with a rod in one hand and a drink in the other.  It wasn’t like that for Peter and friends there.  The words for fishing were “catch” and “harvest”

Jesus, knowing the cross is in the future, knowing that everyone one of Peter’s sins will be atoned for, knowing the forgiveness, even when Jesus would betray Jesus as Peter would tell people, “I never knew the man,” will be forgiven; says to Peter,

Don’t worry, don’t be afraid, don’t let being in my presence cause you anxiety. 

Let’s go catch some people and bring them into the Kingdom of God.

What an invitation, to be partners with God!  To engage in His greatest project, to redeem the world, to catch people and watch, as God begins to heal their broken and often tortured souls.   To see the promises of God poured out on people you love, or will come to love, as they are united with Jesus in baptism. Ask Susan what it was like to help baptize one of her students, or ask Chuck why he demands to be the deacon on duty when we baptize someone.

Or ask the elders what it is like to help feed people the Body and Blood of Christ here at the altar.

There is something incredible about helping someone come to know God’s love.  It drives Bernie to the Sudan and even more… to places like Texas and Minnesota.  Or Pastor Davies to the mountain jungles of Papua Guinea, or even my friend Matt to a university in Nebraska where he works with students from around the world.

You and I are called to walk with God, fishing… no.. catching men and women, and seeing them find healing for their souls, and hope for all eternity.

That is the greatest thing in this passage, the invitation to help others know Jesus, to draw them in, as a fisher draws in his nets.

I tell you something, there is no greater way to know the blessed, unexplainable peace of God, than to draw someone else into it, and watch the difference it makes in their life… and yours.

Lutherans don’t give “normal invitations” at the end of a sermon.

But I will give you one today, and invitation I pray you can’t refuse…

Don’t worry, be catching….with Jesus


Let’s pray!

Rejoice! For God is in Charge! (and a pastor parker parable)

Rejoice!  God is in Charge!

Matt 4:12-25

 In Jesus Name

May the grace and mercy of God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ convince you that the Kingdom of God is here… and that He’s made you to fish for men!

The Kingdom of God is like…

Another one of Pastor Parker’s Parables this morning.  

“The Kingdom of God is Like Starting Your Very First Job.”

For me, it was as dishwasher at the restaurant at the Salem Inn.  Four to Eleven three nights a week, Four to Twelve Fridays and Saturdays, plus sometimes banquets on Saturdays and Sundays.  Two dollars and eighty-five cents an hour,, plus a dollar or two if the waitresses were busy and I delivered room service for them.

I remember the first day, the cool industrial dishwasher (I thought I would be doing it by hand!) the noise and bustle, the ancient 45 year old chef, the sweetness of the waitresses and the speed at which they could turn into Medusa, if their orders were delayed.

I remember getting yelled at a bit, and working so hard to try and keep up with the flood of dirty plates, silverware, coffee mugs, taking out the trash, and the absolute fear when in front of the manager I accidently dropped a plate….

Fear and joy, frustration and terror, determination to do a good job and keep ahead of the game, and yet… why was I always the last person in the restaurant to get my job done?  Why was I the guy to shut off the lights?

As we are going about our lives, and hear the call of Jesus to follow Him, to be transformed for the Kingdom of God is here… our heart might race like it is the first day on the job.

For while we are excited to be there, we don’t quite comprehend what we are called to do.  The difference is that we can “Rejoice! God IS in Charge!”

I’ll screw up!

If you can remember your first job, and the first day there, do you remember that absolute fear that you would screw up?  That you would do something that would see you fired halfway through your first shift?

Slowly but surely you built up confidence, or if not on that job, the next one. We eventually learn that in every job, every person makes mistakes.  Those who are successful are the ones who don’t let the fear of mistakes paralyze them, but take responsibility, correct them, learn from them and keep going.

We struggle with that though, this idea that we are imperfect, we are anxious that we will somehow screw-up – and we either become paralyzed, or a self-fulfilling prophesy.  The same with sinning.  We think that this sin or that sin is the end of the world, and like a young dishwasher hiding the broken plates in the walk-in until he can take them out in the trash… we think we can hide it, cover it up, or even ignore it.

Most of us I bet have experienced the moment where the errors we made at work are found, where our “accidents” that we thought were buried are revealed, usually before everyone to see.  I wonder sometimes if that is what slows down our commitment to seek and save the lost?  What if we screw up here, what of we overlook something there?

Is that what happens to us, when Jesus says, come follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people?  Many similarities to that first day of work!

Do we freeze like we are on the first day of work?  Do we fear making mistakes, or when we make them, do we fear it is all over? We’ve heard God’s call – for most of us, we’ve heard this passage, or the one’s like it in the other gospels more times than we can count.  We know that we are called to be the light to the world, that we aren’t to hide the light we reflect from Christ….

Yet we find ourselves as nervous as a 15 year fear of being chewed out by an old chef.

The Blessings of the Kingdom

I’ll remind you that the parable is that “the Kingdom of God is like starting your first job”, and the title is “Rejoice, the Lord is in Charge!”

Later in my career in food service, I learned that most good managers planned for the learning opportunities that occurred when their people messed up.  They never told them they were expecting them to screw up, but they were, and would be there to help them learn.  Because most of us learn better from mistakes than from carefully laid down errors.

God is no different, at least according to Luther, who writes:

for here in all three articles He has Himself revealed and opened the deepest abyss of his paternal heart and of His pure unutterable love. For He has created us for this very object, that He might redeem and sanctify us; and in addition to giving and imparting to us everything in heaven and upon earth, He has given to us even His Son and the Holy Ghost, by whom to bring us to Himself.” (Large Catechism Apostles Creed, Article 3)

When Jesus says, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people,” He is doing it with the same wisdom He uttered the “Repent of your sins for the Kingdom of God is at hand”  He knows what He is doing when He calls, and He has called each one of us to serve alongside Him.

He’s called us, to repent and be baptized, and now to work beside Him in fishing for people, people who need to be caught up in His net, as He calls them to His people.

And yes, He knows that as we go to work for Him, He will have opportunities to teach us, because we will make a mistake or twenty – but never a mistake He will not use for good.  He’s given us Himself, not just as a guarantee of our salvation, but as a guarantee our work with Him will be a blessing.

He’ll craft you into fishers of men…

You see – the calls of Jesus in this passage aren’t two different calls – a call to repentance – that transformation that comes to us in Baptism and a call to mission that only some will hear.  The call to mission – to come walk with Christ is the same call – and it explains it a little clearer – we join Jesus on a fishing trip that lasts our lives – even as it did His.

It’s the same call, the same transformation, the same walking with Christ as He cleanses and heals us, as He works through us to bring that healing to others.

That’s the point of the pastor parker parable – we find ourselves in this Kingdom of God – our first real “work” in life.  For nothing else we’ve done, or we will do matches the work we do at God’s call.  For His work is done in every other part of lives, our vocations as parents and children, our vocations where they pay us, our vocations in our community, and in the world.

Never forget though, what we are made for, what we are made to be, is the recipients of His love, to be the redeemed and Holy people of God, who catches us, and turns us into His children – the fishers of people.

As we do this, as we God’s graced pull them in, cleanse them, make them His children, we are reminded of what He’s done for us, and knowing that, we rejoice, and know His presence..   AMEN?

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