Revd Linda Whetter's Sermon for Sunday 6th Febraury 2022

Sermon 6th Feb.  4th Before Lent.Yr C

 

Isa. 6:1-8

1 Cor. 15: 1-11

Luke.5: 1-11

 

In the name of God The Father The Son and The Holy Spirit.

 

I have always loved the Old Testament passage from Isaiah set for today and the vivid images that Luke gives us in today’s Gospel of fishing boat and nets full of fish. Probably because I live in Cornwall surrounded by such scenes. Of course the Gospel is not about fishing. The question of where exactly the fish came from is not only unanswerable, it is also unnecessary. This story   is rather, an illustration of   the moment when   Simon Peter caught a glimpse of God’s holiness revealed in Jesus, and responded in an acute awareness of his ungodliness.

 

There was a similar image given in our Old Testament reading set in the Jerusalem Temple in the year 742 BC.  Isaiah has a vision of God’s holiness, becomes acutely aware of his   unworthiness, the reality of which    leads him to depression, poor man! However, Isaiah, accepts the forgiveness of God when it is offered, and with great humility, offers to be His messenger.  Unlike Simon Peter, who couldn’t accept his sinfulness and condemned himself.

 

 There are important insights, in the readings and the collect, for each one of us.  Now! It will come as no surprise to you to hear me say that I place great importance on the pattern of worship, and treasure our worship together. This particular passage from Isaiah is dear to me.   Isaiah’s experience in the Temple is probably the most important incident in the history of worship. With intense images of God’s holiness, the humble willingness to admit failure, and   God’s Grace offering forgiveness and newness of life; It has been formative in shaping ongoing patterns of worship for Christians as well as Jews. All our traditional services such as this one are shaped around God’s speaking in Scripture, hopefully sermon! and Sacrament. We answer inwardly in prayers and outwardly in our offerings. Then we are sent out with hearts made right.

 

  And then we have our Epistle, where Paul, originally a persecutor of the Church, summarises the Gospel message he has received In the   words: ’I would remind you brothers and sisters, that Christ died for our sins’.  He demonstrates this by recording the moment Peter becomes a disciple, illustrating that   Jesus neither contradicts Peter’s condemnation of himself, nor does Jesus go off and leave him as Peter asks him to. Instead Jesus simply tells Peter what he must do. This is seen by many as a command to rush around hauling in loads of disciples!

 

 Well, gathering disciples is complex and I am not so sure that is the point of the story.  I think Luke wanted people who heard this story to identify with Peter.  When Peter met Jesus that morning, Peter’s boat and nets were empty.

 

 I think most of us have experienced emptiness at some point.  Not only the times we have done everything wrong, and I imagine that there are times for most of us when we     come face to face with the reality of our own shortcomings. But also the times when we have done everything right. Gave it our best, did all we could, said our prayers, lived faithfully, worked hard. Our nets still came up empty and we were left entangled in disappointment. Unfortunately the short trip from those scenarios, to wondering whether God accepts us, or worse, whether God exists at all, is embarked upon by many.

 

 All, our readings today offer important insights for times such as these:

 

 Firstly, we do need to acknowledge like Peter, that we are imperfect fishermen, and trust that when we push out into the deep, it is Jesus, not us, who will fill the nets.

When Jesus took Peter fishing He did not say let down your nets and ‘see’ if anything is there, He said:     ‘Put out into the deep water and let your nets down for a catch’.

 

 Whether we are landlubbers or fishermen, we have much to learn from Peter. Peter invited Jesus into his most important possession, his boat. It is an important insight. It was the same boat, same nets, but now Jesus is in it with him. We too are asked to   reach into the depths, the place of the sacred, the Holy of Holies, to   trust beyond our understanding.  As our collect reminds us, we are set in the midst of the seen and the unseen and by reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright. So, whether we are in the shallows, in it up to our necks, or over our heads, rest assured, Jesus will be in the boat with each one of us and the catch is guaranteed.

 

 May the   words of the beautiful Anthem the choir will sing as we take Holy Communion shortly, remain with each one of us, Lead us and make our path plain, as we begin this new week.

 

Amen.

 

 


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