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Sermon based on Luke 5:1-11
Last weekend I had an opportunity to reconnect with many classmates for my 30thhigh school class reunion. This morning I will be using an illustration that proves I am very close to being a half-century-old! Back in my high school days I remember how excited I was when telephone companies began to offer a service known as “call waiting” and my parents subscribed to that service. For our younger audience here this morning, believe it or not there was a time when you would call someone on the phone and hear something known as a busy signal! When this service was first introduced it was exciting to know that while we were on the telephone and somebody else attempted to call us the telephone would let us know by making a sound. It’s hard to believe but I have lived in time when things like caller ID were non-existent. Joking aside we have come a long way in the world of technology!
Likewise we have come a long way as a congregation. This morning as we have celebrated our 122nd anniversary with a Lovefeast service, we must remember that God has extended a call to each of us. Sometimes we’re not always aware that our calling waits. Our gospel lesson from Luke shows us how to respond when we hear that call. More than anything else, the story about the miraculous catch of fish is a story of a call to discipleship something all of us are called to do as Christians. In our gospel passage from Luke, Jesus begins to enlist his first disciples. We see in this passage that God calls ordinary people to do the extraordinary. Jesus climbed into a boat and called these fishermen to fish for people. Like those disciples of long ago we too are called to serve our God and to serve others.
This morning I’d like to share three observations from this passage.
First, the call of God forces us to confront our shortcomings. Here Jesus’ first followers are frustrated that after hours and hours of fishing they had yet to catch anything. Reluctantly they followed Jesus’ instruction and put their nets into the water a final time. They caught so many fish their nets began to break. They call the boat of their partners to assist them. As both boats began to fill with fish to the point their boats were beginning to sink Simon Peter grew afraid realizing this was no ordinary carpenter amidst them. “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” Simon Peter knew he was in the presence of God. He was aware of his shortcomings as a person and felt as though he did not deserve to be in the presence of such greatness. Likewise, none of us, by our own merit, can stand before God with our heads held high and declare that we are perfect and without sin. All of us who call ourselves Christians realize that we all of fall short of God’s expectations for us. Yet despite this recognition in ourselves, we observe a second theme in this passage.
The second observation that we learn is regardless of how imperfect we might be, the call of God comes anyway, with the assurance of God’s presence and power.I love how Jesus offered assurance to Simon Peter and those others first assembled on those boats. Jesus offered them words of assurance that God has repeated throughout Scripture at various times. These powerful words are the following “Do not be afraid,” God, continues to speak these words to us as well. We remember and celebrate the fact that 122 years ago, God called some residents here in the West Salem community to do an extraordinary thing, to begin a Moravian Church in this community. Many of us who might have had relatives involved in the organization of this congregation have perhaps heard stories that our parents, grandparents or great grandparents about the early days of our church. Perhaps they might have been afraid feeling that they too were not worthy of such a calling as being the first disciples and members of Christ Moravian Church. Whatever fears they might have had were eased I suspect knowing that God’s presence was with them each step of their journey in faith.
In moving forward, we have a final observation. The call of God comes with the ultimate challenge: to leave everything. Those gathered on this boat met Jesus and their lives changed forever. They could not go back to simply catching fish. Jesus believed that they were now ready to catch something greater than fish, to catch people and bring them into God’s Kingdom. Their bait from now on would be sharing Christ’s love, teachings and promise of salvation with others. As I think of the ministry of Christ Moravian Church and it’s rich history, I am reminded of the story of an old Roman coin that was discovered. This picture in many respects exemplifies any congregation. This coin had on it a picture of an ox facing both an altar and a plow. Inscribed around the coin in Latin were words that were translated as follows: “Ready for either”.
In a similar way, discipleship requires us to give of ourselves through the acts of worship and through the acts of service. The challenge is the same for Christ Moravian today, as it was back in 1896. Worshiping and serving God through the ministry of this congregation is a commitment we must all make together as followers of Christ. We the ordinary people of Christ Moravian are asked to continue to do the extraordinary to follow Christ and serve others. Together, let us enter this year of ministry together eager and ready to worship and serve God remembering our motto as a church, “Loving to serve, Serving to love.”
The Rev. Dr. David A. Marcus, Jr.
October 28, 2018