Called Into Community

Dear Friends,

What a celebration of community we had last Sunday as we worshiped outdoors under a beautiful blue sky and warm sunshine! It was spectacular. Thank you to all who were able to join us and celebrate, not only in worship, but also at our breakfast and mission and ministry fair. It truly took our community of faith to make it happen! Well done! We’re not done celebrating community. For the next three Sundays we will look deeper at how Jesus calls us into this community (and for what purpose), how Jesus unites us in community, and how he then sends us out into the broader (global) community with his message of love, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness.
So, this Sunday – We are called by Jesus – into community.
The text for the day is from Luke’s gospel, chapter 5, verses 1-11 (The calling of the first disciples). This text reflects on how God calls ordinary people to discipleship and mission. There is nothing the slightest bit extraordinary about Simon Peter and his fishing partners. They are simple fishermen, and they are simply doing what they did every day. They are minding their own business, cleaning their nets after a long, particularly discouraging night of work, when Jesus comes along, enters into their normal, everyday lives and changes everything. This is how Jesus works!
Throughout all of Scripture we see that human sin, failure, and inadequacy are no obstacles to God’s call. I’ve heard it said before that “God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called.” God calls imperfect people to do God’s work, people who are aware of their unworthiness and are often doubting and resistant to God’s call (Exodus 3:10-12; Isaiah 6:1-6; Jeremiah 1:6-8). God doesn’t wait for them to shape up or prove their qualification to be involved. God calls them as they are and then works on shaping them into faithful servants. In the preaching text from Luke for this coming Sunday, Simon is very aware of his unworthiness, but Jesus is not put off by this in the slightest. Jesus encounters him – as he is – tells him not to be afraid, and calls him to a new mission – of catching people.
Simon’s resistance to Jesus stems not only from his sense of unworthiness. He initially protests Jesus’ instructions to go out into the deep waters and let down the nets because he is convinced that the fish are not biting. They have already worked all night and caught nothing. We can hardly blame Simon Peter for his skepticism. Jesus, a carpenter by trade, should not know and provide instruction to a seasoned fisherman of when and where to cast nets for catching fish. Yet, Simon obeys Jesus’ coaching despite his lack of success through the night and his better judgment as an expert in his trade. Through this obedience, Simon sees that Jesus is someone worth following. In experiencing Jesus, Simon was able to leave behind the catch of a lifetime because Jesus had completely reoriented Simon’s life through this encounter. Simon saw more value in being with Jesus than what Jesus had provided for him in the fish.
As we reflect on this story in preparation for Sunday, I encourage you to consider the following questions as part of your own devotional time.
  • How often do we resist Jesus’ claim on our lives because what he is calling us to do seems too crazy, too impractical?
  • How often do we avoid putting out into the deep waters of following and bearing witness to Jesus because we are convinced that we will not see any results? What might it mean for us to go deep-sea fishing with Jesus – to trust and follow him outside our comfort zones, to let go of our certainties, to have our lives radically reoriented?
  • What does it look like to be called by Jesus in 2018?
  • Who, or what, have your followed in your life? What did it mean for you to follow in those cases? What did you give up? What did you gain?
  • Who is a good example in your life of someone who follows Jesus?
  • “Immediately, they dropped their nets and followed.” What might be the “nets” you are clinging to? What “nets” might you need to drop in order to follow Jesus more faithfully?
  • Where do you see community in this story?
For most of us, living out our callings to this kind of community will not mean leaving our current professions behind (although we cannot rule out that possibility). We are called by virtue of our baptism to participate in God’s mission to the world in Jesus Christ. We all are called daily to reorient our priorities to align with God’s priorities, to use the gifts God has given us in service to others, to share the good news of Christ in word and deed. Jesus’ mission does not wait until we think we are ready. The need for the gospel in this broken world is far too urgent. We are called right now – even in spite of our frailty, failures, and doubts, even in the midst of our ordinary, busy, complicated lives.
Jesus’ word to Simon is also a word to us: “Do not be afraid.” This is Jesus’ mission, and we trust that he will keep working with us and through us, “catching” others as he has caught us – in the deep, wide net of God’s mercy and love. We trust, finally, that the catch is in God’s hands, and that God’s desire is for the nets to be bursting and the boats full. In following Jesus, we may initially hesitate to give up all he asks to follow him only to find that once we commit and obey to his calling, we gain immeasurably more than we we left behind.
A reminder! This Wednesday we begin our Wednesday night programming. Here’s the schedule for this, and upcoming Wednesdays. Hope to see you on Wednesday nights!
5:00 p.m. – Dinner
5:30 p.m. – Youth Bell Choir
6:00 p.m. – Adult Living Your Strengths study (lounge)
6:00 p.m. – Time 4 Children/Youth (Youth Room)
7:00 p.m. – Confirmation (Youth Room)
7:00 p.m. – Adult Choir Rehearsal
8:00 p.m. – Sr. High Time (Youth Room)
8:00 – Praise Team Rehearsal
As always, to worship or study, you’re encouraged to invite a friend!
See you in Church!
Pr. Dale