Worship at Home for Sunday, February 6, 2022

Dear Friends,

I have been reflected on the different ways in which we are called. Everyone is called by God in unique and different ways. Some of us are even called to fish.

If you would like a home visit, conversation, or home communion, please call me at 573-437-2779 (church) or 573-832-2475 (cell).

Announcements:

  • Dorcas Meeting on Monday, February 7 at 7pm.
  • Handbell Choir on Wednesday at 4:15pm
  • Chancel Choir practice will resume on February 16 at 6:30pm
  • Annual Congregational will be after worship on Sunday, February 13.
  • We need two more people to serve on Church Council beginning in 2022. Please let me know if you will serve. Being on Council isn’t easy, but it is important.
  • We need people to serve as delegates to the Eastern Association and Conference Meetings. The Spring meeting will be via Zoom on Saturday, March 19. The Conference Meeting will be on Saturday, October 29.
  • Souper Bowl Luncheon will be on Sunday, February 13 after the meeting. Donations will be taken for Helping Hands.

Prayers and Blessings,

Pastor Stephanie DeLong

Scripture Lessons: Isaiah 6:1-8, Psalm 138, 1 Corinthians 15:15-11, Luke 5:1-11

Sermon: Called to Fish

My Swedish grandfather was fisherman. By trade he was an electrical worker. He began as a lineman and then worked in the hydropower plant in his hometown of Deje, Sweden. Morfar (Swedish for mother’s father) fished because he felt called to fish. Morfar fished from a boat, he fished from the shore, he fished from a dock and in the winter, he drilled a hole in the ice, sat on a box and fished. Fishing kept his family fed.

The fishing story in Luke ends with these words, “When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.” Luke 5:11 The fishermen left two enormous boat loads of fish behind! What happened to all the fish? That was a small fortune of fish! Did the people who had gathered on the lakeshore collect the fish and distribute them to those who were hungry? Did they sell the fish and give the money to the poor? When you are called to fish, you care about what happens to the fish.

Isaiah Chapter 6 gives a concreate time in this world but tells the story of a heavenly moment. (The year King Uzziah died which is about 740BC in case you were wondering.) The story is about Isaiah’s experience in the throne room of God. This throne room is more powerful and mystical than a mere human can handle. Seraphs fly around the room while extolling the holiness of the Lord of hosts. There is smoke and fire and the ground shakes. Isaiah feels unworthy and shouts out that he is an unclean man among a people of unclean lips. So, a Seraph takes a hot coal and blots out the guilt and sin. Confession leads to forgiveness and grace.

There is something about being in the presence of true greatness that makes us aware of our own unworthiness. When faced with our own unworthiness, crying out like Isaiah leads to a greater life in God’s forgiving grace. When we confess our failings, God forgives us and calls us to be more. More is what Isaiah desired to be. Once his guilt departed, God calls out for someone send out into the world. Isaiah enthusiastically says, “Here I am; send me!”

Most of us do not have the opportunity to witness the mystical and holy realm of God. We live our lives experiencing the ordinary rather than the extraordinary. So how do we experience God’s grace and call? Is there a way to go to heaven on earth?

Author Saul Bellow wrote about a rabbi who lived in a small Jewish town in Russia. The rabbi had a secret. Every Friday morning the rabbi disappeared for several hours. The people of his congregation liked to tell people that during his absence from them their rabbi went up to heaven and talked to God. When a stranger moved into town and heard this explanation for the rabbi’s weekly departure, he was not convinced. So, he decided to find out what was really going on. The next Friday morning, he hid by the rabbi’s house, waiting and watching. As usual, the rabbi got up and said his prayers. But unlike other mornings of the week, he then dressed in peasant clothes. He grabbed an ax and wandered off into the woods to cut some firewood. With the man watching from afar, the rabbi then hauled the wood to a shack on the outskirts of the village where an old woman and her sick son lived. He left them the wood, enough for a week, and then went quietly back home.

After seeing what the rabbi did, the stranger decided to stay in the village and join the congregation. From then on, whenever he heard one of the villagers say, “On Friday morning our rabbi ascends all the way to heaven,” the newcomer quietly added, “If not higher.” (Proclaim Illustration (proclaimsermons.com))

Perhaps ordinary people get to experience a bit of heaven when we answer the call to care for others. Luke 5:1-11 tells the story of fishermen who experienced a bit of heaven in their daily working lives. Jesus was walking by with a crowd of people while the fishermen were rinsing out their nets. Jesus got into one of the boats and asks Simon (later called Peter) to put the boat out into the lake a bit so that Jesus can teach those on the shore. Simon complied. Jesus sat down and teaches the crowd and Simon who tends to the boat.

So far rather ordinary, then Jesus asks Simon to go back out into the deep water and fish some more. Simon who has been out all-night fishing without any reward replied less than enthusiastically but agreed to do as Jesus asked. Simon was not quite the enthusiastic Isaiah, but then Simon had not experienced heaven. Simon was tired and worn out from a night of empty nets.

What happens next is Simon’s glimpse of heaven. When Simon cast his net into the deep water, the nets were filled full of fish. The nets were filled to the breaking point. A second boat was called for to bring in the catch. The boats nearly sink with the weight of fish. When you are called to fish, a catch like this is a glimpse of heaven. Simon fell at Jesus feet and confessed his unworthiness. Jesus told Simon/Peter not to be afraid and called him to follow with the clever phrase about catching people. So, Simon/Peter and his fishing partners James and John, brought the nearly sinking, fish filled boats into shore, left everything to follow Jesus.

So, what happened to all the fish? I like to think that Simon/Peter looked at the people and motioned that the fish were for them to eat and to share. I like to think that Jesus called Simon/Peter to fish so that the family of faith would be fed. Being called by God means caring for others. For when we care for others, we go to heaven.  

Prayer:

God of grace and abundance, you call us in the daily lives to follow you. In the glory of all heavenly splendor, we see our own unworthiness. May we be forgiven by your grace. May our fears be eased as we seek to follow you. Amen.

Prayer list: All who have been on our list in the past and Elizabeth, Cheryl, Peggy, Mindy, Dave, Ken and Evelyn, Jason, Paulette, victims of disasters and those who are struggling financially and emotionally.

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