by Rev Sheila Hamil,
I was reading Luke 5:1-11, in our church’s set reading for today: (020921) when some words jumped out at me. “Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch!”
It took me back to a time when my husband and I were on our first ever, and our only, ‘exotic holiday’, following our retirement. We were both snorkelling on a coral reef in the sunshine, amazed at finding such a wonderful variety of fish beneath the surface of the water, and it was all so exciting, so colourful; a brand new experience for us both.
One morning though, I became adventurous, and I decided to move on out from the reef into deep water! I glided into a brand new world, out in the blue beyond, and I entered a totally surreal environment. At first I was elated. I had the strangest sensation that I was taking off from a cliff in slow motion, out into nothingness, all stretched out and soaring, wonderfully supported by the vast water beneath me.
It was so freeing and exhilarating!
The experience didn’t last very long though, because all of a sudden, I became aware that I had left the warm shallow waters behind me, and was entering a noiseless expanse where I felt a sudden chill on my skin. My entire body had become cold, and I began to feel afraid. After all, what strange creatures were lurking in the shadows? I turned myself round, and immediately headed straight back to where I felt safe and warm, and where everything was familiar once more.
In our reading, ‘the deep’ is where Jesus says his fish are to be found, way out there, not in the shallows; in other words not in the safety of our homes or churches, but in the world outside.
During lockdown we’ve grown accustomed to the comfort and protection of worship at home, by way of Zoom or by streaming in real time, where absolutely nothing is demanded of us. All we’ve had to do is switch on the power, click onto the given link, look in and worship.
Perhaps it’s time to consider going out once more, where it isn’t comfortable, where it doesn’t feel safe, and where bigger challenges lurk menacingly like unknown monsters from the deep. But to be able to become fishers of people, we need to do it together, supporting one another, and in fellowship with others. Jesus calls us not to remain forever in the warm shallows of our own existence, but to get out there where the poor, the needy, the lonely, and the exile are already enveloped in the chill waters. Perhaps we’re being called again to swim alongside them. (But let’s not forget to put our protective masks on though!)
There’s a saying:
‘Ships are safe in the harbour, but that’s not what ships are for!”
The song above ‘Stir into Flame’ was inspired by 2 Timothy Chapter 1:6
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