Recasting the Net

At one of our Synod Faith Formation Team meetings Luke 5:1-11 was read for devotions and as we were talking about faith formation in our churches and synod these are some of the thoughts that I had about what this text says to us about faith formation today.  I think Jesus is calling us to rethink how we do faith formation or in other words Jesus is calling us to "recast our nets".

Luke 5:1"…Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God"

  • Even though people are not physically pressing in on our church doors to be involved in our churches, crowds of people are still pressing in on Jesus to hear the word of God.  People are still longing for and searching for meaning, to be a part of something, to make a difference.  They are longing to be spiritual.

Luke 5: 2-3   "He saw 2 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.

  • Jesus is still in our midst, among the people, active and teaching.  Are we going to join in, jump in the boat with him or are we just going to sit on the beach?
  • We not only need each other but we especially need God.  A reminder of our Lutheran faith, heritage and understanding.

Luke 5: 4-5   "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.'"

  • We think we know how to fish and we tell God we know what to do.  We have our own mission and goals.  We continue to try to fish in old ways and our own ways.  Ways that might have worked at one time, but now Jesus is teaching us a new way to fish for people.

Luke 5: 5-7   "'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 signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them.  And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink."

  • They signaled their partners to come.  Our partners in ministry are signaling us to come and help.  All need to work together in the synod, in the church.
  • In her book, "Family Ministry- A Comprehensive Guide, 2nd Edition" Diana Garland explains on page 102, that Jesus' calling of his disciples was based on a very different image of fishing then what we think of.
"The church is Jesus' net - a great big web of relationships that folds people in, gathering them into the net, into the community of faith.  We fish not in isolation, as lone fishers in hip boots wading into swift water by ourselves.  Instead, it is the relationships between us- the 'network' of families and community - that draw others into the community that is the body of Christ.  In our me-centered world, it is the relationships of the saints one to another that are most likely to draw people in.  It is our loving and caring network of connections with one another.  Jesus said that the world should know us by our love for one another (John 13:35).  This is the good news for our world: God intends none of us to be alone, but to be a part of a loving family.  This fishing image suggests the basic tasks of family ministry.  First, everyone in the community must be woven into family relationships, even those who are isolated and without family as the world sees family.  Second, we have to mend the frays and tears in the net.  We have to work on relationships in the community, young and old, keeping the connections strong and repairing damage when it happens.  Finally we are not satisfied simply to display a strong and well-woven net; it is meant to be used for fishing.  The purpose of our net-working is not simply to satisfy ourselves that we have a good net; it is to be tossed into the sea to draw in others.  We have to toss our relationships as God's people into the sea, taking them into a society where people feel like they are swimming alone in deep waters and need to be folded in."

Luke 5:8-10"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, son of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon.

  • Again we are reminded that we not only need each other but we especially need God.  A reminder of our Lutheran faith, heritage and understanding.

Luke 5:10-11   "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."

  • The calling of ministry to fish for people, especially in this post-Christendom world is hard and can be scary.  But we don't do it alone or without guidance.  Christ tells us, "Do not be afraid!" and the Holy Spirit guides us together as the church, freed and forgiven to new ministries of living, hearing, sharing, proclaiming, serving and striving for justice and peace in all the world.

As Diana Garland suggests in Luke 5 Jesus calls us to be church together, a network.  To make sure everyone is welcome and a part of the net and we are to care for the net, mending frays & tears in the net (improving communication & collaboration). And we are to use the net for fishing (enhancing current ministries and starting new ones, develop and multiply youth and young adult leaders).  As a Faith Formation Network and Team in our synod and as Faith Formation Leaders in our churches and ministries these are the things Jesus is calling us to do.  And to do them together.

Jamie Travers, AiM