Dive: Discovering Faith as Deep as the Sea
Rev. Mike Bailey
August 28, 2016
Luke 5:1-11 Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.’ Simon answered, ‘Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.’ When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!’ For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.’ When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.
What a great day we had last Sunday! If you’re a guest, last week we had a wonderful celebration of our 60th anniversary. We began in Sternberger School and are so happy to have our honored guests from there at the 11 service. We also heard a challenging sermon from District Superintendent Nancy Rankin about CUMC being a leading church for new missional communities in Greensboro. Thank all of you who contacted me and said, “you’re ready to roll!” I’ve passed your words on to Nancy.
Today, we celebrate the ministry of education of all kinds and we pray as a faith community for all in the ministry of education of all levels and kinds. Also, today at Christ Church we start our new “school year” of Sunday school, small groups and other means of Christian Education. Our foundation for our new year of growth is our wonderful scripture passage.
Fishing in the times of Jesus wasn’t a highly regarded profession. It was done at night, away from the family (like shepherds), and thus, had some dishonor attached to it. Jesus is teaching and the fisherman are engaging in their post-fishing task of net repairing.
The crowds begin to “press in” on Jesus to hear, so he begins teaching from one of their boats. (By the way educators, “teacher” is the most common title of Jesus in the Bible, that’s a message of the honor from God of your calling, isn’t it?) Jesus then invites the fishermen to push into deeper water for a catch. The fishermen respond to the carpenter/teacher with the initial reluctance of a professional listening to advice from an amateur, but nonetheless, launch out and lower their nets. They are rewarded tremendously for doing so! Since the sea represented chaos that only God could control, they follow Jesus, leaving all they had behind.
And the same invitation, from Jesus, is for all of us today; to launch out into the deeper waters of faith!
One way to launch your life into the deeper aspects of faith is through joining, or conferring with our team about joining, one or more of our nearly two dozen small groups.
Some of them are short-term, some longer term; some age/stage life specific; others for all. Here’s something they all hold in common: you’ll grow spiritually and find community–real, honest, supportive friends in Christ.
Another great way to launch into the deeper waters of the faith is through, the again, nearly two dozen Sunday school classes offered at Christ Church. There are classes for about every age, stage, learning style and interest in the Christian journey. Again, our staff servants would be thrilled to coach you in exploring several classes in order to find the right fit for you.
And parents there is perhaps no greater gift you can give your children and youth than the gift of Christian education and formation.
What this all means is this: until further notice, you are invited!
But an invitation does no good unless it’s positively responded to! The fishermen seem to be a little skeptical in our story. That may describe you regarding the invitation to go deeper through a class or group; that’s fair enough. Perhaps you had a less than positive experience with religious education while growing up. Or, maybe getting close to people you don’t know yet is something that’s a bit frightening for you. Or, perhaps you think you aren’t “qualified” thinking “everyone in the group will be more spiritual and Biblically literate than me!” Maybe you visited a class or a group on a “bad day” for yourself or them and you found them un-friendly. All of those reasons are real feelings and can’t be denied, but they can be overcome. All it takes is a little effort; of giving a group and yourself a chance; giving a few weeks of your time trying a few classes or small groups.
And in doing so, almost everyone discovers a wonderful Scriptural truth: where two or more are gathered in the name of Jesus, there he is also! You’ll meet all kinds of companions to journey through life with and you’ll discover that your fellow travelers are like you; that we’re all beggars sharing the free Bread of life together.
You see, saying yes to the invitation, responding positively to it brought great reward for those fisherman long ago and for us today!
The fishermen were rewarded with a net-tearing haul of fish; a true economic windfall. But they left it all behind, presumably even the windfall profit. Why? To follow Jesus; to join with him in the deepening of their walk with God; to experience the assurance of eternal life and to share God’s loving, peaceful, joyous, accepting Rule of justice on earth, with all people.
And that greater reward is the same for us! It’s an invitation to go deeper into life as God desires it to be.
And we all long for that “something more” don’t we? We all know that life can and God wants it to be better for all.
Here’s the challenge: the invitation has been given: commit to respond to it! Go deeper in the faith this year! Find a group or all a group this year; go and find or start a class! Parent your children remembering the sacred vow you took at their baptism; take up a new study discipline in the faith; try a Welcome Wednesday class. The point is, respond! The reward will follow; you’ll find community in and with Jesus and you’ll never regret launching out and going deeper, in love and learning this year.
Discussion Guide for August 28: Dive: Discovering Faith as Deep as the Sea
Share with your group about a time when you felt spiritually led to launch into “deeper water.”
Share with your group how this felt.
Share with your group how you are being led now to launch out into “deeper water.”
Share with your group a commitment you’re willing to make and be held lovingly accountable for regarding your growth as a disciple.