Since it has been a while since I last preached at St. James’, I thought that I would make this my final entry into this blog which I have been working on for the past many years and hundreds of entries. I want to begin with a question: “Yarn dis marn?” – that is high Newfoundland talk for “Have you got any fish this morning?” Now please understand that this is the question that Jesus, standing on the beach on the shores of the Lake of Galilee, asked of Peter and the other disciples (John 21:1-18). Peter decided to go fishing and some of the other disciples went with him, including the disciple Jesus’ loved and another unnamed disciple. They got ready and launched out into the water. They fished all night but caught nothing.
In the morning, Jesus asks them the question, “Yarn dis marn, me sons?” The reply was swift. “Narn” or neither one, sir!
“T’row yer net to port! Dats where the fish are to be found!” When they did so, the amount of fish in the net was so large that they could not bring it into the boat. This is when John, the beloved disciple, recognized the risen Jesus and told Peter. Peter, in turn, made himself presentable to greet Jesus and was the first over the gunnels to do so. The rest or the would-be fishermen tied off the top of the net and rowed for shore with the net in tow.
This is when they discover that Jesus has lit a fire from coal and has fish and bread already for toast and the pot on the fire for mug up. It was an opportunity to go back to that night when Peter, after boldly trying to proclaim that he would die with Jesus and then the mess with the fellow’s ear, denies he even knows Jesus. We go back to that moment of weakness, the point of denial and offence so that there can be forgiveness and reconciliation – for Peter and for the community. Peter is restored to his place within the community so that he can grow into the leader that he will need to become for the community in time under the work and guidance of the Spirit.
Maybe it Is about following Jesus that this blog has been about for the past 11-12 years. So, there are some things about ministry that I have learned want to share as we finish up:
1. If you catch people, Jesus will make them clean. You need to follow his direction and get out into deeper water and let down your nets for the catch. Jesus will fill the nets.
2. We need to learn to see Jesus in our Galilees; that is, we need to find him present in our circumstances, our ongoing life and ministry.
3. The mistakes we make are not fatal unless we refuse to seek forgiveness and restoration.
4. The deaths we die are not final unless we choose ourselves over Christ and all that has to offer us.
5. We need to recognize that ministry is done in relation to the Good Shepherd. Power and authority for it comes from him and is given for the care and feeding of his flock. We live and do as he does.
6. We need to recognize that people around us are prepared to hear the Gospel and to participate in Christ. Our society wants to know what it is that God is thinking and saying, even if there is trouble hearing when it is not what they want to hear.
7. We need to know that we are not called to be prosperous or successful. We are called to be faithful, fruitful and joyful. It is dangerous for us to think that all that God wants for us is to be happy, successful and satisfied.
8. We need to remember the words of theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said, “Those who dream of Church but not of church community becomes the destroyer of that community.”
9. We must remember that it will be messy from here to eternity but if we are going to move mountains, we need to start by picking up a pebble.
May the Lord bless you as you seek him.