Daily Devotion 08 August 2020
John 21: 1-6 ‘Net-Working’
1 After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. 2 Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. 3 Simon Peter said to them, ‘I am going fishing.’ They said to him, ‘We will go with you.’ They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 4 Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, ‘Children, you have no fish, have you?’ They answered him, ‘No.’ 6 He said to them, ‘Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’ So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish.
A plaque on a cottage in Hastings fishing quarter reads: “Here lives a fisherman with the best catch of his life”.
Invited to fish from the shore one winter’s night, my Father caught no fish – only a bad cold!
Fisherman’s tales are often about either success or failure, as is recorded in John 21 and Luke 5. Recently, whilst sea-bathing, I was suddenly surrounded by a shoal of mackerel – no guess who or what jumped the quickest!
The wider perspective seen from the shore makes it easier to spot oncoming shoals, as I can verify. We are told that from the shore the unrecognised Jesus advised his fisher friends to try something different. In John 21 the advice was to re-direct their net casting, and in Luke 5 to go out into deeper waters.
Interestingly, the ecumenical symbol for ‘Churches Together’ is a boat on the sea. Closed churches could be seen to be a fishing ‘lockdown’, with the ‘boats’ unable to put to ‘sea’ in the normal way. In this situation, as in many others, we might well ask the question: “How might Christ be directing us today?” Well, our church, and many others, have been guided – cast out – in new directions, as in the Gospel narratives. We are embracing new ways of being ‘church’. We find ourselves experimenting with alternative ways of worship, prayer, evangelism, mission and communication.
A contemporary use of the net – the Internet (!) – has enabled us to reach more ‘fish’ than we could have dreamed. It is a new kind of ‘networking’, our own kind of ‘full-filling’ net, for which we can be thankful. No doubt future times will require other new ‘fishing’ methods, to evolve, as together we continue to exercise calm courage and wise imagination, always recognising that seeming ‘failure’ can by grace become the harbinger of ‘success’.
God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change;
Courage to change the things we can;
And wisdom to know the difference. Amen.
(The Prayer of Reinhold Niebuhr)
Address © 2020 Gordon Harrison.
Image from https://www.cte.org.uk.
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