February 6, 2022: Epiphany 5

Lord, just as You once chose Your disciples to be fishers of men, so You have also chosen us to go and do likewise.  Equip us with all the necessary tackle to do so and may the catch be bountiful so that Your kingdom is enlarged and rejoicing may resound.  Amen


TEXT: Luke 5: 1-11

Dearly Beloved By Christ: 

          For the last two weeks the weather has been  awful.  We’ve all missed church—after last weekend’s blizzard.  The nasty ice storm this Friday didn’t help anyone’s mood.  We need some good news, an escape, a pick-me-up to better days.  Well, we’ll see what we can do….

          In lieu of a kid’s sermon, I now ask them to come up and help me demonstrate. I have various  rods and reels here to show you something about yourself and becoming a ”fisher of men” for the Lord.  Some are specialty items, a couple of them are all purpose.  It all depends on what you’re trying to catch. 

          This rod and reel is all purpose, used for most fish.  It’s a Zebco 33 with a six foot rod.  It casts easily.  Anyone can use it.  It works for using worms and a bobber to land sunfish.  You can cast lures for bigger fish.   It doesn’t work for ocean fish.  It’s too small.  I’ve caught many northern pick and bass with it.  I’ve also landed panfish.    Most of us are just like it, when it comes to hooking people for Christ.  And as long as we use His love as our bait, someone will eventually bite because grace, His true love is irresistible. 

          This one is an ultralight spinning rod and reel.  It’s small just like the fish you’re after—usually panfish.  It works well with a  bobber and worm, too.  It doesn’t scare those fish away with a heavy line and a big plop in the water.    Sometimes we need to mimic ultralight tackle and be gentle in sharing God’s love with them.

          This is an ocean rod and reel.  It’s made for big, strong fish.  My great uncle Andy used it to try to catch 30-40 lb. muskies in WI.  I’ve used it to catch bluefish off Rockport.  Such fish would break the other tackle.  Sometimes you run into people who are tough and difficult to catch with God’s grace.  They are arrogant and don’t think they need God’s love, they can tackle life on their own.   But God supplies us with the Spirit’s unlimited power to  troll for them.  When they snap at the bait and you set the hook, it can take a long time to get them into the safety of the boat.  But don’t give up!  God doesn’t!

          I was about 25 when one summer night we went with Mrs. Fox’s aunt and uncle to fish on Lake Homme Dieu for crappies.  We used minnows and the average tackle.  We got bites but they bit short and always missed the hook. They were gentle and literally “sucked” the minnow away while the rod felt nothing.  Finally, I assembled this 100 year old steel rod which is as whippy as a piece of spaghetti.  When the end would just barely start to go down I would set the hook and land the fish.  They were the biggest crappies Sally and Ed had ever seen—between 1 ½ to 2 1/2 lbs! I caught about 9 that night and it fed us all later in the evening.  Patience, tactics and great care are needed to catch such humans with Christ’s forgiveness for all  sins which He won on the cross for us!

          Each of us is God’s rod and reel.  We are to use our abilities which God gives to be His human “fishers of men.”  When we don’t seem to catch anything, sometimes we need to change tackle, or our approach.  Sometimes we need to ask  for help from another.  Certain people need extra amounts of God’s Law to soften their hearts.  Sometimes folks aren’t yet ready for God’s love.  But never forget: His free forgiveness is the only bait that works and that makes for happy  fish!  So keep on trying! 

          In our lesson a miracle takes place.   Jesus doesn’t use a rod or reel, but a net.  The disciples were experienced fishermen.  They had  toiled all night and caught nothing.  Now while cleaning their nets, Jesus tells them to launch again into the shallows while the sun is up and fish scare away easily and to “let down the nets.”  Peter and the others thought it ridiculous and futile.  But they humored Him.  And this miracle of full nets occurred!  Peter realizes the miracle and his own futility of faith and honors Christ as the Son of God.  But that’s the point:  God does the miracle, not Peter.  Likewise, God uses us to be His earthly hands to catch men, but He does the heavy lifting.  

          One last thought: when Keith and Steve and I fished the Redwood river for pike and bass, we would often toil for 2 or 3 hours and catch nothing.  Your gaze starts to wander and you just go through the repetitions not paying any attention.  That’s often  when a fish would hit and the fight would be on!  So it is with people and the Gospel.  And that’s why we should never quit on anyone  because  Jesus didn’t—He died to save all….Amen

THE peace of God which…..

Pastor Thomas H. Fox

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