|Easter 5, Year C||May 19, 2019||Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C||John 13:31-35|
|Easter 4, Year C||May 12, 2019||Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year C||Psalm 23; John 10:22-30|
|Easter 3, Year C||May 5, 2019||Third Sunday of Easter, Year C||John 21:1-19|
|Easter 2, Year C||April 28, 2019||Easter 2, Year 2||John 20:19-31|
|Easter Sunday, 2019||April 21, 2019||Easter Sunday||John 20:1-18|
|Good Friday, 2019||April 19, 2019||Good Friday||John 18:1-19:42|
|Maundy Thursday, April 18, 2019||April 18, 2019||Maundy Thursday||John 13:1-17, 31b-35|
|Palm Sunday, Year C||April 14, 2019||Palm Sunday, Year C||Luke 23:26|
|Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C||April 7, 2019||Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C||John 12:1-8|
|Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 31, 2019||Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year C 2019||Joshua 5:9-12;Psalm 32; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32|
|Third Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 24, 2019||Third Sunday in Lent, Year C||Luke 13:1-9|
|Second Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 17, 2019||Second Sunday in Lent, Year C||Luke 13:31-35,Philippians 3:17-4:1|
|First Sunday in Lent, Year C||March 10, 2019||First Sunday in Lent, Year C||Luke 4:1-13|
|Ash Wednesday, March 6, 2019||March 6, 2019||Ash Wednesday||Isaiah 58:1-12|
|Last Epiphany, March 3, 2019 – Rev. Mark Jefferson||March 3, 2019||Last Epiphany, Year C||Luke 9:28-36, [37-43a]|
Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C
Sermon Date:February 10, 2019
Scripture: Luke 5:1-11
Liturgy Calendar: Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C
“Appearance on Lake Tiberias” – Duccio_di_Buoninsegna (1308-11)
The four most important words that you can ever say in this life are
“Here I am, Lord.”
In today’s scriptures we hear about three people who placed their lives in God’s hands—Isaiah, Paul, and Peter.
But in the interest of time, let’s go to today’s gospel, because one of the main characters in the story is Peter, our patron saint—and this part of his story has a lot to teach us about being followers of Jesus.
In today’s gospel, Jesus is standing beside the Sea of Galilee and the crowds are pressing in around him.
Jesus sees two boats on the shore, and he gets into the boat that belongs to Peter, and asks Peter to put out a little way from the shore.
We can learn several things from the beginning of this story.
Just think, Peter was just a plain old fisherman.
Jesus got into Peter’s boat because Jesus needed to teach and Peter’s boat was the one that was available. Jesus didn’t interview Peter to see what sort of person he was, or whether or not his boat was worthy. Jesus simply got into the boat because he needed it.
Even today, Jesus is walking through the world, hoping to teach. And Jesus is looking for a boat to get into, so that his teaching can be heard by the crowds. Jesus will use us, just as we are, if we make ourselves available.
Peter’s boat was available because Peter was taking a break from work.
One way we make ourselves available to God is to take a break from work and spend some time in prayer.
The time we set aside to spend in prayer, to clean the metaphorical nets of our lives, that time of prayer in which our boats are resting on the shore—Jesus can get into our boats when we are at prayer.
Taking time each day to pray is important–because in prayer, we make ourselves available to God.
So Simon and Jesus put out a little way from the shore, as Jesus asks.
And then, from the boat, Jesus teaches the crowds.
Peter gets to hear Jesus teaching– every word!
This part gives us the second thing to remember for ourselves from this story– Peter got to hear Jesus teaching as he sat in the boat with Jesus. The words he heard must have convinced him that he should go ahead and do what Jesus asked of him next.
That’s the power of paying attention to God’s word—the importance of spending undistracted time with scripture, to truly listen to what God, and particularly Jesus himself, is saying in scripture—the Bible is the living word.
When we spend time with scripture prayerfully and undistractedly, Jesus will teach us and we will hear God’s words just as intimately as Peter must have heard them that day on his boat in the shallow waters of the Sea of Galilee, as Jesus taught the crowds.
And we also must remember, these teachings are not just for you or me individually—Jesus was teaching the crowds. God’s word of love and mercy is universal—put out there for anyone who chooses to listen.
When Jesus is finished teaching, he asks Peter to put out into the deep water and let down the nets for a catch.
Jesus doesn’t tell Peter about anything that will happen next. Jesus simply makes a request that Peter must decide about without knowing what the results will be.
When God asks us to put out into the deep, God is not going to lay out what happens next for us either.
God simply asks us to have trust, and to obey.
Now Peter has just spent all night fishing and didn’t catch anything, and he must be tired.
And now he has a decision to make.
After all, Peter has already provided a floating pulpit for Jesus. None of us would blame him for not wanting to let his nets down again, and instead taking a well deserved rest before going back to work again.
Peter decides to put out into the deep water and lets down his nets.
And although he doesn’t actually say the four words—“Here I am, Lord,” instead he says, “If you say so, I will let down the nets,”
his actions say, “Here I am, Lord.”
Now I love this part. “And they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break.”
Jesus didn’t just sit there while Peter did all the work. Jesus didn’t just look on, waiting for Peter’s surprise at what was going to happen.
Jesus helped Peter do the work.
Jesus helped Peter let down the nets.
Jesus helped Peter catch all those fish.
Jesus helped Peter try to haul in the nets so full of fish that they were breaking.
And can’t you just see Peter gesturing frantically to James and John while Jesus gleefully waves toward them to come and help with the catch?
If we do what God asks, then God will help us do what God has asked. And God will help us abundantly!
God revels in abundance! Remember all that water that Jesus turned into wine at the wedding at Cana?
Now Peter’s reaction to this unexpected abundance is to fall down at Jesus’ knees, fish flapping all around him, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!”
Being in God’s abundant and life giving presence puts our own lives into perspective. We are truly dust, and to dust we shall return. We are imperfect human beings.
When we stand in the presence of God, the light of God’s presence makes our imperfections and faults glaringly obvious.
But God won’t go away from us because we’re sinful, or imperfect, or whatever word you want to use.
Instead, God takes us as we are and summons out who we will become through God’s redeeming love for each one of us.
And God’s love is such good news that the words we want to say more than anything are those four words, “Here I am, Lord.”
These words say to God, “I trust you even though I can’t see what’s ahead. I want to obey you, whatever you ask. I want you to use me for the spreading of your love throughout the world, because I have experienced your love for me.”
“Here I am, Lord,” are the four most important words you could ever say in this life.
Now, listen again to the words that we’ve heard from scripture this morning, just as if you were Peter in the boat that day, listening to Jesus teach.
And then say those four important words to God. Whisper them in your heart. Say them aloud. Shout them out. Or only ponder what might happen if you did say these four words to God.
“Here I am, Lord.”
“Here I am, Lord.”
We can count on Jesus—to help us with anything Jesus asks us to do. We can count on the generosity of Jesus. We can count on Jesus to take us as we are and make us into who God desires us to be.
One last thing–
“Here I am, Lord,” are not the only four words that I hope you’ll take home today.
To go along with “Here I am, Lord,” we need four more words–the four words that Jesus spoke to Peter that day in the boat as Peter was on his knees, looking up at Jesus in awe and wonder, with some fear thrown in.
And those four words are the words of Jesus to Peter, –“Do not be afraid.”
When we say “Here I am, Lord,” we don’t ever need to be afraid, because God will be with us, working alongside us, giving us strength, and keeping us safe.
When we say, “Here I am, Lord.”
God says in reply, “Here I am with you.”
So “Do not be afraid.”