Answering God’s Call

This sermon was given by our Reader Christine on Sunday 6 February 2022. Here it is for you again:

Today we hear how Isiah and Simon are called to serve God, both in very different ways, but both confessing that they are or have been sinful people.  Their sins are forgiven and they are chosen to answer God’s call.

There is very little hesitation in their response and with Simon there are quite a few witnesses to his particular calling.

So let me introduce two fishermen who were on the same lake, Josiah and his son Eli speaking to Miriam, Josiah’s wife, sitting outside the house.

Sketch – Ordinary 5 (Year C)

By Ann Bossingham

Fish or fishes

Miriam: Well, I’ve put the fish on. Fish being the operative word – as opposed to fishes, I mean.

Josiah: There’s no need to rub it in.

Eli: Anyway, strictly speaking, ‘fishes’ is incorrect, the word fish being both singular and plural.

Miriam: Oh, don’t be such a pedant.

Josiah: And it was quite a big fish, you must admit that.

Miriam: Granted, it’ll eke out quite nicely between us with some bread, but it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. Particularly in view of the rumpus down at the harbour.

Eli and Josiah look from one to another

Josiah: Oh, you heard about that, did you?

Miriam: Couldn’t really fail to; what with people running down to the harbour from just next door to look at this wonderful catch. So, there was I, getting all ready with my salt to get some of it preserved, and here you turn up with just one fish between you. What happened? Were you fishing in a different lake?

Eli: You mustn’t blame Dad. It was just bad luck, really.

Miriam: So, what happened, then?

Josiah: Well, we went down to the harbour yesterday evening, as you know. Quite a few of us went out. The weather conditions seemed good enough; reasonable amount of wind, but no storms, thank goodness.

Eli: Mind you, there was a full moon, which is never very good for fishing. Especially with a clear sky like we had last night.

Miriam: Why should that have been a problem.

Josiah: (in a long-suffering manner) I’m sure I’ve told you this before. When the sky’s clear and the moon’s full, it can be almost as bright as day.

Eli: Bright enough to read by. The fish can see our shadows on the water and they stay well clear.

Josiah: So by the time dawn broke, we’d hardly had a single bite between us. In fact, with our one sizeable fish, we’d probably done better than some.

Eli: That’s right. Take Simon and his brother Andrew. They hadn’t caught a single tiddler; and boy, was Simon fed up about that.

Miriam: I can just imagine – he’s always been the same; all or nothing, that’s Simon bar Jonah.

Josiah: Well, we all got back to shore and got on with cleaning the nets and mending them. It was a bit of a busy old day down at the harbour, too.

Miriam: Really? Why was that?

Josiah: That preacher was down there – the rabbi; you know.

Miriam: Jesus?

Josiah: Yes, that’s him. Anyway, there were so many people down there wanting to hear him that he was nearly pushed into the water, so he climbed into Simon’s boat, and got him to push out a little way, so everyone could see and hear him.

Eli: Mum, he was really interesting – the stories he told! And the way he put things – helping you to understand about God, but seeing things with a fresh pair of eyes – as if he really knew what he was talking about.

Miriam: And all this time you were cleaning the nets.

Eli: Well… cleaning and listening.

Josiah: We finished the job about the same time as he finished talking, and I was just able to hear Jesus tell Simon to put his boat out and let his nets down for a catch.

Miriam: What, in broad daylight?

Josiah: Exactly. How daft an idea is that?

Miriam: I heard tell that Jesus was a carpenter by trade before he began teaching.

Josiah: Yeah; so what self-respecting fisherman is going to let a carpenter teach him his work? I could see that Simon felt the same; but after a moment’s hesitation, he did what Jesus told him.

Miriam: (impatiently, after a brief pause) Well? And what then?

Eli: Then it happened; the miracle. There was a kind of fluttering and splashing beneath the water, and a bright sparkle that ran the length of the boat, and suddenly, the net was full of fish; so full that it nearly capsized the boat. They had to signal to another boat to come and help them.

Miriam: And that other boat wasn’t yours, of course.

Josiah: No; ‘fraid not.

Miriam: So we’ve got one measly fish whilst Simon and his pals have got whole nets full.

Josiah: That’s about the size of it. I wish now we’d put out to sea at the same time as Simon

Miriam: Well, I’ll tell you what I think’

Eli: What’s that, Mum?

Miriam: I think another time you’d better be ready to take some notice of what this Jesus says, because it seems to me that he knows a thing or two.

Jesus basically commandeered Simon’s boat, because the crowd are pushing him closer and closer to the water’s edge wanting him to speak to them.

I would certainly imagine that Simon was reluctant to cast his net over the side once more especially as he and the others had been out all night and caught nothing.  He would probably have been more ready for his bed than going out again!  However, something in Jesus’ voice makes him do this and as a result Simon realises his failings and falls at Jesus’ feet in repentance and he accepts the calling to follow Jesus and to do what is asked of him.

In the same way as Isaiah accepts his failings and says: “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I; send me!”  Isaiah gives up his life and accepts God’s call to become one of the great prophets.

So, Simon who we know becomes known as Peter, the rock on which the church was built, James and John answer God’s call, pull their boats ashore and head off to a new life as close disciples to Jesus.

A new life that is offered to each and every one of us if in Miriam words, we take notice of what this Jesus says, because he knows a thing or two.

Let us pray:

Lord, we acknowledge You today as our God. You are the same as when You called Isaiah, Peter and your disciples all those years ago. Your majesty is undimmed; Your power is undiminished; And yet You seek to know each one of us personally; And You have a task which You have designed for us.

Give us, like Isaiah, Peter and your disciples, a listening ear and a willing heart, So that we may hear Your message, And respond to You with eager obedience. We ask this for Your Holy Name’s sake.


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