As we ….. ……. to you today, we ask you to impart your love to us, that our selfishness may be restrained and we may love as you have loved us. Grant us renewal of vision that we may see what is best and right to do at every moment. Endow us with your forgiving grace, sensing forgiveness for things we do, that we may live in freedom. In our search for good things of life, we often blame our hardships on you as if you had not seen fit to bless us. Help us this day to seek, to discover that lack of inspiration we seem to have in ourselves. Teach us how to walk correctly. Grant that we may delight in the law of God. Create within us the desire to do your will. For we pray today for those whom life has brought sorrow and distress.
The hand of death has touched many people. We pray for your comforting spirit to abide with all of whom have known heartaches and separation and loneliness, the experiences many others have brought, through loss of employment, personal disappointments and dullness in their lives. So often God, we fell that ours is the only way of doing a particular thing. We think in the imagination of our hearts that no one has good ideas or has an acceptable plan, as we have. As we realize, as we think of the community about us, that such thinking is not only wrong but it is troublesome. Many homes have been broken; and friendships been separated because one or both parties insist on being counted right. Grant that may have hearts big enough to give credit to other people’s thoughts and desires. Create within us sufficient love that we may honor our brothers and sisters as we would like to be honored by them.
Pray in silence for those personal loved ones, or situations that need prayer.
God, who made the trees and the flowering scrubs and the singing birds, make us as good… as the world is beautiful. Grant us the gift of love that we may live unselfish lives. Grant us the gift of peace, that we may live fearless lives. Grant us the gift of courage that we may live more daring so that life of this day will be better because we have lived in it. Under your peace, we ask you to grant all our desires, through Christ our Lord. Amen
John 21:1-19 New International Version (NIV)
Jesus and the Miraculous Catch of Fish
21 Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee.[a] It happened this way:2 Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus[b]), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3 “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.[c] 9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
Jesus Reinstates Peter15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of deathby which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
CATCH AND RELEASE
I’m sure many here this morning had the experience when your plans or project gets side-tracked—put on the back burner, You doubt yourself-your skill and your project just gathers dust. You need someone or some incident to get you back into the groove.
It sometimes happens to me after leading worship and preaching. I begin to doubt whether I have enough faith, or interpreting skills. being honest. Tired of deadlines, nice to sleep in on Sunday. I get anxious and wonder if this is the calling for me?
But, then I get that tap on the shoulder, you know who from, restoring faith in myself and letting me know I am needed-I AM LOVED- and I am NOT ALONE.
Our scripture is a story of this same type of situation where the disciples find themselves at the end of a journey and don’t know where to turn.
The disciples at least 7, were back home fishing—wondering why they had ever left the trade--of mending nets and fishing.
They had spent 1-3 years following Jesus.
Saw wonderful changes in people’s lives—some were healed—others given their sight-while others had demon spirits removed.
Suddenly it was all over! Jesus was executed—it seemed the powerful Roman authorities had won.
—after Jesus was arrested and executed. They were afraid of being arrested—maybe executed—they were men on the run.
Now they felt safe back in the home territory, back doing what they were best at—fishing.
Even though Jesus had told them this would happen—even his appearances from the grave didn’t convince them –so they fled—home to Galilee —where they had been recruited by Jesus.
The adventure was over!
The writer sees God acting fast, before they got too comfortable in their old trade, God wasn’t going to let them off the hook—they still had a mission to complete—now he must give them the courage to continue—to know they were not alone.
So, John tells us a story of how it happened- he tells of the disciples coming home after a night of fishing-not a fish in the net, the men were surprised to see a stranger on the shore directing them to throw their net to the other side of the boat. Tired and weary they didn’t have the will to say no, lo and behold the net is full of fish. A sign they were NOT ALONE-Jesus was still with them.
Then, Jesus shared a meal of bread and fish with them, reminiscing of their last Passover meal together,--showing the importance of sharing a COMMON MEAL.
Then three times Jesus asked Peter do you love me;-- these three times represented the three times Peter had denied knowing Jesus. Peter was full of guilt and Jesus was telling Peter he was completely forgiven.
Then Jesus tells Peter to tend and feed his sheep-meaning the disciples are to serve the needy people of his flock
And finally Jesus instructed them to FOLLOW Him and put his teachings into practice.
The disciples are resurrected to continue their journey of "catching people, we could say they were born again to follow Jesus." They succeeded in their mission and due to their faith and sacrifice, we have the Christian church today!
The church continued fishing for people, throwing out its net, gathering people into the church it was successful right up until
the 1980’s when the churches were packed, Sunday School was overflowing, we were constructing new Christian Education Centers for the young people. It was exciting times for the churches! Then everything seemed to cave-in!
The empty pews in our worship worry many of us –1 or 2 children in the Sunday School worry us—the financial burden of maintaining the building-selling church property worry us. It doesn’t look promising. We’ve stalled along the way.
**I saw a cartoon where . The Reverend Dr. McStuffed- Shirt encountered one of his less-than-faithful parishioners returning from a day's fishing and engaged him in conversation. "Ah, Brother Jones," he began in his best preaching tone, "You are a fine fisherman, but I am a fisher of men."
"So I have heard. But I was passing your church last Sunday, looked in the window, and noticed you had not caught too many lately."
Today, our churches are experiencing the same disappointment as the disciples after Jesus death.
Our scripture story is about God tapping us on the shoulder and telling us not to dwell in the past, but to remain faithful. God expects us to come up with news ways of feeding his people-keeping his church alive.
Those of us who come to church each Sunday have our Spiritual needs satisfied by our traditional worship service. Just as in this morning’s Bible story, we acknowledge Christ’s spirit is alive and WE ARE NOT ALONE—we share in our COMMUNION MEAL—we accept GOD’S FORGIVENESS. -we praise God through scripture reading, singing hymns and SHARING WITH OTHERS THROUGH OUR OFFERING. Most times, it satisfies our deepest needs but regrettably, it’s not meaningful to the next generation.
Why not? We ask?
How do they feel about God, Jesus and church worship, well:
--To many Jesus is fully human, not God.
-- some don’t consider the Bible as “the word of God”
--They don’t interpret the Bible “literally.”
--- to them God is to be found out in the world
--- God’s presence found in nature rather than in Jesus
---for others the church is not helping them in their search for a meaningful SPIRITUAL life
--- they found the church irrelevant, unfulfilling and even boring.
So, we can see we have a job cut out for us if we ever want to reach out to them.
A national survey indicated.--80% of adults and young people surveyed said they had a positive belief in God and a deep longing for spiritual nurture and practices.
Rev. John Shelby Sponge calls them “Christians in exile.” And we should not give up on them!
Every generation of Jesus followers have understood their calling – to be fishers of men. Most members interpret that phrase to mean "catch people" to increase church membership.
There are a lot of men, women and young people out there who have rejected our attempts at drawing them into church by traditional fishing methods—huge events, special programs, big advertising. I call it net-fishing. I think we’ve tired and frustrated of pulling in empty nets.
As Doctor Phil would ask, “How’s it working for you?”
We can’t go back to “old time” fishing—we must discover new ways of being fishers of God’s people.
Maybe we can learn from the “sportsmen who fish using a technique called CATCH and RELEASE
Those, who practice this type of “ sport –fishing” don’t treat every fish as a KEEPER--they release the fish back to the stream. And interestingly, you can buy fish hooks without the barb, making it easier to release the fish.
Perhaps we should investigate how we can fulfill our responsibility of sharing our faith by adopting this “Catch and Release” fishing method.
But, to fish ONE ON ONE, we must be able to talk “on a personal level” about our own journey of Faith.
I think, a good starting place is to “Explore our own personal Faith.” using scripture and quotes from theologians and famous thinkers to help us discover:
--What is our Spiritual Journey?
-- What is Faith?
--How have we experienced God in our lives?
-- “Who is Jesus to you?” and explore with each other
different ideas on how to communicate our faith.
Instead of measuring our success through “numbers” at Sunday worship, which is a false measurement of success.
As I recall, Jesus never spent time trying to get people into the church so why should we.
We need to understand our role is to help people renew their RELATIONSHIP with GOD.
We’ll need God’s help to become Modern Fishers - to go out and CATCH the people when we have the opportunity; show them JESUS’ WAY to Spiritual growth and RELEASE them to swim in their own Spiritual channel.
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