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 signalled 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.
I fully understand Simon’s point of view – been out all night and completely exhausted, and Jesus asks him to put out into the deep water and give it a go! Going out into the ‘deep water’ again in our bobbing boats is a simile for our churches this year. At this point of returning for a ‘new day’ in 2022, it is easy to groan. Like Simon, we have all worked through lengthy dark times. There is great fatigue and people’s creativity and resources are running low as we now enter into an endemic season. We are weary of being alert but not alarmed, of being positive and careful, of changing our ‘usual’ practices and our welcoming hospitality while following Compliance. We have found new ways of creatively gathering (eg online), and have been agile in our approach to weekly worship and festivals like Easter and Christmas. And Jesus says “Put out into the deep waters” again.
Yet, if we reach into the depths of the Living Waters, we will be certain to find hope in abundance. Christian Church life may look and feel different, but the love of God is ever present, the Friendship of the Spirit flows through and around us, and Jesus completely gets traveling the stormy waves in an open boat.
Draw deep and bring forth the Good News of Hope, the fruits of the Spirit,
and the companionship of the One who calls to the stormy waves
“Peace! Be still!”
Jesus, Friend and companion,
we are tired and weary
and yet, hear your call to travel again into the deep waters.
In the dark times, our souls seek your Light.
When troubled with decisions
on how to be your people during this season,
we seek your comforting yoke to bear the burden.
As we are buffeted off-course, we seek your direction,
bringing us to the still waters of peace.
In our care for our neighbour,
we seek your anchoring love, which restores our soul.
Hold us. Warm us. Guide us.
For in you, we find a Way.
With you, we have hope.
Let your warming love be as the morning sun,
bringing light across the waters
as new beginnings unfold.