Too often we observe serious competition among local churches or denominations to attract new members to their communities when a joint communal, inclusive approach to evangelism and outreach would be far more effective and beneficial to all. We can be rightly disturbed by the individual need for prestige and honor in these circumstances. Yet they seem to occur with increasing regularity while quietly eroding the powerful construct of community.
Notice that today’s scripture mentions two boats. From my African perspective, this reminds me of the Zulu word ubuntu, which means “I am because we are.” I am enabled and empowered, made fully human, because I am part of a family, a tribe, and a community. It appears that fishing is a communal activity in biblical times. To have one boat at one end of the net and another boat at the other end surely allows the team to catch more fish. The boats have a common goal and rely on each other to jointly harvest the catch. They embody the concept of ubuntu.
But the disciples have toiled all night and have caught nothing! We can sense their feelings of failure, disillusion, and disappointment. Few people enjoy working with no reward, and in this regard, the disciples are most certainly human.
Jesus recognizes their plight and gently emphasizes the need for community: Simon Peter catches so many fish he has to call for his partners in the other boat to help him. Jesus understands their real need and, as with all of us in times of despair and darkness, reveals his amazing power to overcome all difficulties.
What new project can your faith community initiate to invite more people to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ?
Father, forgive me for not recognizing and responding to the cry of those around me who long for a deeper relationship with you. Amen.
The theme of calling is continued in this week’s readings. Isaiah has a vision of God on the throne and is terrified because he knows that he is unworthy; yet he is being called by God. The psalmist, traditionally David, praises God for having a purpose for his life and bringing it to completion. Paul echoes Isaiah’s sentiments of his own unworthiness to the Corinthians. While assuring his readers of the reality of Christ’s bodily resurrection, Paul recognizes that he preaches only by the grace of God. When Jesus is calling his disciples, Simon Peter recognizes him as the Lord and cowers because he feels unworthy—much like the prophet Isaiah had done. These readings teach us that God’s call is based not on our worthiness but on our willingness.
Read Isaiah 6:1-13. When have you heard a difficult call from God? How did you come to finally say, “Here I am; send me”?
Read Psalm 138. How have you seen God uplift the lowly and the humble? How have these experiences changed the way you live out your faith?
Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-11. How does your life witness to Christ’s resurrection?
Read Luke 5:1-11. How has Christ called you? Whether or not you feel worthy to the call, Christ wants you to follow.
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.