Sunday, January 23, 2011

Nets and Leaving

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
"Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles--the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned."From that time Jesus began to proclaim, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near."
As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea-- for they were fishermen. And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fish for people." Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. Matthew 4:12-23

I have observed that fishing with a pole, as most of us think of fishing, is much easier than fishing with a net. With a pole and line in the water, we can pretend to be fishing and really be day dreaming. We can be watching people or the horizon and contemplating our own private thoughts. But nets are heavy and require our all. When wet they are extremely heavy and when full of slippery, jumping fish they require massive amounts of strength and effort to haul them in. Hauling them into a small fishing vessel requires skill too, keeping the boat from tipping and sinking, losing crew and catch at the same time. The leisure activity of a line and pole is what most of us want. When we are called by God to follow, it involves the netting kind of work. Hard, back breaking work in strange and complex situations.

The four men who dropped their nets, Peter and Andrew, James and John left family and their traditional ways to follow Jesus. They went from the familiar to the strange and had their all demanded of them, in very different ways. They would be challenged to see the former enemies as family, their traditions set aside for love and they would be traveling among strangers in very different places and Jesus would find ways to make them all relatives. They cast their nets and gathered others in - in ways they could never have imagined as they dropped their own familiar nets.

Today, I want to remember that God calls us all, lay and ordained alike, to be fishers - to put our all into our faith and to give up the familiar for the redemption of the world. We are invited to set aside judgment so that God can gather all and make us a family. May God give us all the strength to gather others in, even the ones who make us awkward and uncomfortable.

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