Recently in worship we heard the gospel where Jesus says, “Follow me. I will make you fish for people.”
In my sermon I talked about how so often this feels like Jesus is inviting us into some kind of pyramid scheme to try to get people to join our churches and it feels icky. I don’t want to be fished for! Fish get eaten!
But what I’ve been thinking about for quite a while here at our church which is named after St. Peter, the fisherman, is that when Jesus calls us “fishers of people”, he’s inviting us to see ourselves as a net, scooping each other up and out of the sea. The sea in the biblical world is a stand in for chaos and evil. This is not a pyramid scheme or a smarmy marketing strategy to get everybody to assimilate to our ways of thinking, to join our church and be just like us! It’s God’s rescue mission to haul each and every one of us out from those places where we have gotten caught in a current, or the undertow has taken us too far out into the chaos of this life.
And so I want to invite you in this new year to think about our church. To think about our building, our grounds, our parking lots, our Sunday morning worship and fellowship time, our evening groups, and the ministries that we endeavor to accomplish.
How, in every one of these places, is God calling us to be like a net, scooping each other up and delivering each other back to dry ground?
If you look at Jesus’ own life and ministry, with the exception of the 12 disciples, he is not soliciting followers. He is not trying to build a membership base. He just walks through the world dropping down nets where people have been dragged out to sea - lepers and hemorrhaging women, paralytics, blind people, deaf people, people who are relegated to poverty and isolation, demon possessed people, tax collectors, sick people, dying people, and egotistical people - Jesus drops his net in each case and hauls these folks back to fullness of life. Back to community. Back to right relationship with themselves and each other. Back into the embrace of a God who looks at them with sheer and utter delight.
When people come onto our campus, is our campus a net that scoops them into the embrace of God? I’m not talking about a guilt-inducing sales pitch to join our church, but do they get caught up in the embrace of God? What would that look like? What would need to be in place for that to happen more effectively? How is it already happening?
This month we’re hosting Interfaith Shelter Network for two weeks from Feb. 10-24 with our neighbors from All Souls’ Episcopal Church. Our goal is to reinforce our nets this year, to make them even bigger and even stronger because homelessness is a force that is ransacking lives and ransacking our community and so we want to be a net that is lowered and pulls up a serious haul of folks that can be returned to themselves and community! So this year we’re inviting our neighbors - local businesses and new churches, other groups who use our fellowship hall, and friends of the congregation with the hopes that next year we can expand our impact and host for longer.
Think about this net thing with me, will you? How is this place a net that catches all who come here up in the love of God?