It had been a difficult night. The two groups of professional fishermen gave it their very best but had caught nothing. So, they are on the shore cleaning their nets, anxious to get home and get some sleep.
Jesus comes down to the shore. Although his ministry has just begun, he, his message, and his healing of the sick has caught everyone’s attention.
He stops at Simon’s boat and asks for some help. To be heard and not trampled by the crowd he needs some help. “Let me get in your boat. Put it out in the water so I can teach the crowds.”
Wonder of wonder; Simon does what Jesus has asked. He could have said, “I’m tired. When we clean these nets, we are going home to sleep.” Could it be that because Jesus recently healed his mother-in-law, he felt he owed him? We don’t know. But even though he was probably dead tired he did it.
But that was just the beginning. Next, Jesus directs Simon and his brother Andrew to get their nets back in the boat and head out for deeper water. “Master, we have worked all night but have caught nothing. And then almost with words of resignation Simon says, “If you say so, we will do it.”
They put out to deeper water, let down their nets and wonder of wonders the catch is so overwhelming they need the help of the Sons of Thunder, James and John. They help, but the catch is so awesome both boats almost sink.
But they can get the catch ashore, even as their boats are sinking.
Simon falls on his knees and says, “Depart from me for I am a sinful man.” It must have been like it was for the prophet Isaiah who encountered the living God in the Temple and exclaimed, “Woe am I, for I am an unclean man in the midst of a people of unclean lips.”
Jesus speaks to him; “Don’t be afraid. From now on you will be catching people.”
The four men are so awestruck they leave everything and follow Jesus.
When I read this gospel lesson I immediately thought of this congregation. Years ago, this congregation was started here in the hopes it would one day be a strong parish in the southwestern edge of Guilford County.
There have been several pastors here. Some of whom were beloved. But somehow the parish has never taken off. There have been years when you have wondered whether you would close like New Covenant in Archdale. But you are still here. But I could easily hear you saying to Jesus, “We are tired. We have worked hard for years. Yes, we ended 2021 in the black, but we have also been dealing with Covid. We even stopped worshipping together for a while last year.
But there is something about the love, and authority of Jesus that speaks to us.
We are in a community that is growing. Within a mile of the church a group of condos are being built. When people move in it will be the great opportunity to invite them.
John Streszoff has made a great brochure that I will be passing out in that community. We gave out brochures at our December meeting and you invited people and we had 49 people at the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service.
Lutherans are not very strong in evangelism. In the early years in America, we helped Lutherans from Europe and Scandinavia get settled in our country. But they are no longer the strongest immigrants coming here. A few years ago, I read Lutherans tend to invite folks to worship with them once every 17 years.
But I believe it is time for us to try to go into deeper water under the guidance of Jesus. It is the joy and duty of the Church to make and grow disciples.
But to become an evangelist requires a believing heart that knows it has experienced the blessings of being a disciple of Jesus. Just look at what he has done to bring this church into being and think of all the ways God has blessed it over the years. Just think of all the ways God through Christ has blessed you starting with making you one of his children through the waters of baptism. Think of the times you have come to worship weighed down with a load of sin or problems and during the worship you have experienced both forgiveness and the strength to start again.
The reason I am asking you to remember is, “Why try to catch someone for Jesus if you are unclear, or uncertain how God has blessed you?”
But I am going to assume you will be able to get in touch with why you are a disciple of Jesus.
The second step is to be aware of your surroundings. Who are the people you know in your neighborhood who are unchurched? Who are the people you know at work who are distant from God and are experiencing an emptiness in their lives. Perhaps there is someone in your family who is unchurched.
Start out by being genuine in your attempts to be a friend.
I love the old phrase; “Make a friend. Be a friend. Bring a friend to Jesus.” Jesus will do the converting. Your task is to care enough about them to introduce them to Jesus.
Now to do this there are some things to remember. Someone shared Jesus with you or you would not be a Christian. Secondly, God uses redeemed sinners like Simon, you, and me to catch disciples. Thirdly, God through the Holy Spirit brings people to faith. We cannot and never will be able to save someone.
Start out with some prayer. “Jesus, help me discover someone who needs to be introduced to you, and please guide me so they do not feel manipulated.” You will be amazed what God will show you.
Yes, you who have been here for years have every right to be tired. But realize the moment. In this moment after three years of Covid people are asking themselves what is the meaning of life? Many are looking to the church to help them discover the answer. There are potential disciples out there to be caught by God’s grace.
And now may the peace of God which passes all understanding keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amen.