“Put out into the deep …” (Luke 5:4)
“While the people pressed upon [Jesus] to hear the word of God, he was standing
on the shores of Lake Galilee]. And he saw two boats by the lake; but the fisherman had gone
out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he
asked him to put out a little from the land. And [Jesus] sat down and taught the people from
the boat. And when he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep and let
down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, ‘Master, we toiled all night and took nothing!
But at your word I will let down the nets.’ And when they had done this, they enclosed a great
shoal of fish; and as their nets were breaking, they beckoned their partners in the other boat to
come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. … And
Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching [i.e. saving] people.’ And
when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed [Jesus].”
(Luke 5:1-6, 10b-11; RSV. Emphasis added.)
Let me ask you a question: “What is your empty boat? The one that you oft’ come home in at night, feeling – to use a Midwestern fishing expression – “skunked.” Or perhaps, the one you’ve dragged onto the sandy shoreline called “disappointment and emptiness” … struggling to find a connecting line between your life of faith and your work, a struggle for something that has lasting meaning … yearning to hear a word, God’s Word, that has the power to fill your little craft that seems to be simply bobbing about in the shallows.
As I watched the Super Bowl commercials and half-time show last Sunday, I thought about what “all this” reflects in our culture, our values, or portrays to other countries of the world: the rappers grabbing themselves, the banal and vulgar lyrics, the voyeurism … “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing’ (Shakespeare; Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5). And I began to think further on how we so often spend much of our lives in the shallows, never risking the wonder of the deep questions and things of life that God has gifted us.
Come to worship this weekend and hear Jesus’ Word for you, as with Simon: to “put out into the deep” … to “cast your nets wide” … to trust that your little boat will be filled with God’s presence … of forgiveness and a new freedom for purpose and joy in life. And way down deep, we’ll hear Jesus calling us, like his early disciples, into what the “life of vocation” really means (not just a job): where the deep passions and gifts God has given you come together with the deep hungers and needs of the world.
In Christ’s love for you, and all people …