Worship for Sunday, February 6, 2022

Isaiah 6:1-8 [9-13]

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!” And he said, “Go and say to this people:
‘Keep listening, but do not comprehend;
keep looking, but do not understand.’
Make the mind of this people dull,
and stop their ears,
and shut their eyes,
so that they may not look with their eyes,
and listen with their ears,
and comprehend with their minds,
and turn and be healed.”

Then I said, “How long, O Lord?” And he said:
“Until cities lie waste
without inhabitant,
and houses without people,
and the land is utterly desolate;
until the Lord sends everyone far away,
and vast is the emptiness in the midst of the land.
Even if a tenth part remain in it,
it will be burned again,
like a terebinth or an oak
whose stump remains standing
when it is felled.”
The holy seed is its stump.

The Word of the Lord

Psalm 138

I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I will sing your praise.

I will bow down toward your holy temple and praise your name, because of your steadfast love and faithfulness;
for you have glorified your name and your word above all things. 

When I called, you answered me;
you increased my strength within me.

All the rulers of the earth will praise you, O Lord,
when they have heard the words of your mouth.

They will sing of the ways of the Lord,
that great is the glory of the Lord.

The Lord is high, yet cares for the lowly,
perceiving the haughty from afar. 

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you keep me safe;
you stretch forth your hand against the fury of my enemies; your right hand shall save me.

You will make good your purpose for me;
O Lord, your steadfast love endures forever; do not abandon the works of your hands.

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain.

For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.

The Word of the Lord.

The Holy Gospel according to Saint 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 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.

The Gospel of our Lord.

 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bemidji, Minnesota has been the home of a massively huge Paul Bunyan statue and an equally gargantuan statue of Babe the Blue Ox since 1937.   These iconic works of American folk art have stood on the shores of Lake Bemidji through sunshine and wind and rain and lots and lots of snow for almost 100 years.

It seems so very fitting that these beloved statues who are based on heroes of exaggerated tall tales stand on a lakeshore – because everyone I met while living in Minnesota had a tall tale or 200 about fishing. Seriously – EVERYONE had a fishing tale of glory or almost glory!

Most card-carrying Minnesotans can regale you with a story of the day the BIG one got away. Usually over and over again. Swapping fishing tall tales was a favorite sport in my congregations in Minnesota.   I heard multitudes of these fishing “tall tales.”

I loved listening to folks make these stories up (I mean share their adventures) and hearing the way they would change with each re-telling. It was endlessly entertaining.

Our next-door neighbor Duane hooked a fish that was so big – it pulled a boatload of 4 men around Bass Lake for 3 days before the line snapped and the fish got away.

A lady in my Bible study told me – she caught a fish in Battle Lake that was so big she had to let it go – because her freezer simply wasn’t big enough to hold that many filets! Apparently – she still had a lot of venison left over from deer season . . .

One of my Confirmation students told me he caught a fish that was so big and strong – he was able to go water skiing behind it all afternoon before he decided to cut the line and let it go – because he wanted pizza for supper.

And speaking of fishing stories – our Gospel reading for today has an incredibly impressive fishing story in it too. But it doesn’t start off that way.

Think about how Peter – James and John must have felt the morning of our Gospel reading. They had spent the entire night fishing without catching a single fish. Not even one fish had landed in their nets in spite of hours of back-breaking – physically demanding labor.

They must have been both exhausted and discouraged. And then Jesus tells them to put their heavy nets into the water yet again. It probably felt so hopeless. But they have nothing to lose. So – they drop their nets into the water one more time.

This time – when they cast their nets into the water – they catch so many fish their nets begin to rip apart from the weight of all of the fish they have caught. They catch so many fish – their boats begin to sink.

That is a lot of fish. This has to be the best fishing story I have ever heard.

The Bible tells us these fishermen caught a whole bunch of fish that morning and then Jesus caught Peter and James and John. And turned them into fishers of men.

If you don’t fish or won’t even eat fish – you can learn some very important lessons from our Gospel reading for today. In fact – thinking a little bit about fishing can help us learn about sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with others.

Any fisherman worth her tackle box will tell you the most important part of fishing is going to where the fish are. You can’t go fishing from your living room or from your pew at church and expect to catch any fish.

Sure – you can put on your lucky fishing hat at home. You can polish your lures in your living room.   You can rig up your fishing pole where it is comfortable and familiar. But – if you want to catch any fish you need to be next to the water or in the water or on the water.

The same is true about sharing the Good News of God’s grace – love and mercy.

Jesus didn’t stay at home in Nazareth and expect people to come to him.   Jesus knew to bring people to faith – he needed to go to them. So – Jesus went to where people worked. To where they shopped and ate. Jesus went to their homes. Jesus went to where people gathered and to where they hung out. To where they lived their lives.

The same is true for each of us. If we want to be fishers of people – we have to take ourselves and the Good News of Jesus Christ to where the people are. We can’t expect people to come to us.

After all – if they have never heard the Good News – are they going to feel comfortable coming to church or even realize they might like it here?

If we want to share the Good News of Jesus Christ – we have got to share the Good News with people where they live their lives.

We also need to remember this takes time and patience. A fisherman doesn’t plan to go fishing for a few minutes and hope to catch a bunch of fish.

And fishing for people takes even more time. Fishing for people isn’t about handing out little Bibles to strangers as they leave the grocery store or about sticking a pamphlet about our church in someone’s mailbox inviting them to church. It isn’t about ads or posting something nifty on Facebook. It isn’t about signs or billboards or websites.

Sharing the Good News of God’s love – is all about forming relationships. It is about meeting people where they are and getting to know them and then inviting them to know Jesus.

This takes time. Lots of time. Most people come to church and become Christians because someone took the time to get to know them and spent time sharing God’s love with them.

Think about it for a moment – how many of you became Christians because of a website or because of a fun post on Facebook? Or because of a church sign?

It is my guess that most – if not all of you – are Christians because someone took the time to get to know you and to share with you the Good News of Jesus Christ – personally. Because someone mentored you. Because someone prayed for and with you. Because someone loved you and cared for you and spent time with you.

We are ALL called to share the Good News of God’s grace – love and mercy.

Invite someone you love and care about to meet Jesus. Invite them to worship with you. But don’t just invite them. Sit with them – help them follow our worship – answer their questions. Introduce them to your brothers and sisters in Christ – invite them to Sunday school – invite their kids to Vacation Bible School – tell them about why you love Jesus.

After all – the Good News of Jesus Christ is too good to keep to ourselves – AMEN.

 

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