26 January 2021
This fishing story in Luke has a lot to tell us about leadership..
Been fishing? Do you believe a fisherman? That's why people go to great lengths to take photos of the fish they actually caught, with them in the picture. To prove they were there. that they are not misleading or even straight lying about the size of the fish. And I?ve never heard a fisherman say you should have seen this fish - it was so tiny. The nearest is "they were not up to size and we had to throw them back".
But the one that got away has enormous possibilities for size, no one saw it except the fisherman, or maybe even it was totally unseen the line broke - what a huge fish - ?It could have been an old mine, or a container of Treasure sunk beneath the surface. Anything may be there and fishing stories are about possibilities.
Sound like youth work!
Quite a lot of fishing sayings are well fishy! Something's fishy here, or he's fishing around for something - description of a boy trying to find his bed under the pile of treasures in his bedroom. Of course all of you younger ones are very tidy . There is a negative feel to it and we find many of the Bible's references to fishing are also negative because they are from the point of view of the fish. Jesus' sense of humour may well be coming out in choosing to turn the image of fishing around and telling the fisherman Simon Peter he was to now fish for people. Jesus is in the business of transformation - death into life.
Leadership is full of failure -
Martin Buber, Jewish theologian. says that "the Bible knows nothing about the intrinsic value of success. On the contrary, when it announces a successful deed, it is duty-bound to announce in complete detail the failure involved in the success .... This glorification of failure culminates in the long line of prophets whose existence is failure through and through. They live in failure; it is for them to fight and not to conquer. This is the fundamental experience of biblical leadership.". We live in a world that thinks that leadership necessarily leads to success.
Failure is not an option. We simply rule out a God whose purpose includes failure. [ Searcy]
Peter, James and John had fished all night, they were fishing with nets, dropping them in and bringing them up, no winches to make it easier, hard hard work, dripping wet, all night long and no catch. Sometimes leadership will be like that - don't make the mistake of measuring success by the world's measure.
Those Disciples knew what fishing was like when Jesus said "Come and fish for people!"
Now you know why we dedicated you first.... don't leave yet.
Then Jesus told Peter to go and try again in the deep water, same lake, same possibilities,
Peter didn't say "what does a carpenter know about fishing!" Never assume that any person does not have something to offer - listen!. God chooses unlikely messengers. Peter and James and John got out the nets that had just been washed, they didn't do their own thing but did as they were told by Jesus.
They had so many fish it was overwhelming, it was frightening [imagine if 100 boys turned up at brigade next week Glenn! ] Their boats began to sink and that's frightening in deep water. I don't know if they could even swim. The nets were breaking. They signalled to their partners in the other boats to come and help them.
Leadership is not going it alone
Peter did not do this alone - he had partners whom he trusted. Leadership in the Christian community is with others. Each brings gifts to share. Don't go it alone. Use the people who are provided in the structures of the Brigades, and church, they aren't there to stop things happening - they are part of the biblical vision of working together as a community. Going it alone is not a virtue - all it does is lead to drowning, for leaders it leads to burnout or getting to the end of ones strength and giving up and walking away.
This catch was the promise of what God can and will do. It is that vision which captures Simon Peter. Plenty on that scale - like the wine at the wedding in Cana - points to the feast of God. Peter has this glimpse of who Jesus is, of God's glory and realises his total inadequacy.
Who is this carpenter, this travelling healer and teacher who can pull this enormous catch form the water of the lake? And therefore what sort of fisherman is Peter? Peter sees himself in the light of something much bigger than him and says "Go away!" and confesses his own state. A moment of revelation. Know who you are. Know your weaknesses.
Jesus says "don't be afraid" and transforms the negative image of fishing into a job description in the terms the fishermen will understand "from now on you will be catching people".
Just what does that mean?. Perhaps the disciples left their nets because it is curiosity as much as any reward or understood promise that draws people into following Christ.
The did knew about fishing all night and they knew about going out on the lake sometimes there is a catch and sometimes nothing.
They left their nets and followed Jesus.
Those of you who venture into the deep waters of leading young people in the way of Christ as part of your particular call to discipleship need to be encouraged. You do not go it alone.
· It is Jesus who give the vision and the results - you do not have to rely on your own strength for that will run out.
· Leadership in Christ is a communal task
The story tells us that "the catching of fish was not a private matter only for those who let down the nets, but the success was so great that others need to be invited to assist in the catch." [Bratcher]
That includes parents, siblings and the wider families.
You are not alone. The church, and that means this church and all the others you come from, the wider church is part of the picture.
Those you lead will go fishing as well. Heard the story of the sprat line that pulled in a snapper! We pray that they will learn the Christian story that brings forth new life and new hope for others. - and come to trust Jesus so they too can know God's freedom and be able to serve others. Leadership which frees you and those you lead.
· Remember you are not God
Of course, fish stories are usually stories of surprise, of unlikely triumphs or amazing brushes with elusive glory. One or more of our young people here may be one of the greatest leaders the world has known, one of you guys or girls who are wriggling in the pews today may yet influence the ways of nations.
"To fish is to depend on the unseen, to be blessed or cursed by what is hidden in the waters. Strange things happen; sometimes the fish disappear, and sometimes the mysterious sea delivers up its bounty where none would have been expected."[Stendahl]
Go fishing for God goes with you.
The translation of wonder. (fishing metaphors in the Gospels) Christian Century, Jan 28, 1998, by John Stendahl
Dennis Bratcher, Lectionary Commentary Series Year C Fifth Sunday after Epiphany February 8, 2004
Rev Ed Searcy University Hill church http://www.uhill.swift-web.com "Seed Stump"
Rev. Margaret Anne Low
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