One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
5 Simon answered, “We’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
It seems as if the past two years we have been especially challenged to live every day in the spirit of deep trust and faith, trust that our PPE will protect us, faith that the divisions in our country won’t have the last word, deep hope in the promise of the pandemic becoming something we don’t have to think so much about in the very near future. Simon and his fellow fishermen from this passage in the Gospel of Luke knew that feeling of acting on trust in the tools that God has provided to them all too well. Even though they had yet to catch anything in their nets, they accepted Jesus’ invitation to lower them yet again into the deep waters so that they might catch some fish that day.
And once again, during this Stewardship season, we as a community of faith look to lower our own nets into the deep waters as we reflect on what it means to give of our time and monetary resources in these uncertain times. As a church we have often talked about spiritual practices that can ground us through moments in our lives when we feel disconnected from God: taking deep breaths, body prayer, contemplative prayer, walking in the woods, even wearing a mask. Giving of ourselves and our resources is one of those spiritual practices too. What we invest our time and money into is what we claim to be a part of who we are. It is a spiritual practice of commitment. It is a spiritual practice of communicating our trust in the work of our church community in a concrete way. It is a spiritual practice of trusting and having faith in what God can do when we come together with the resources we have, and what the body of Christ can do with all its members in full participation. When we give of ourselves, we more fully experience the gifts of belonging to this spiritual community. In order to catch the fish we first have to cast our nets, to take the plunge together. There is vulnerability in this spiritual practice of giving, and in that vulnerability we become more connected and sink into deeper relationship with one another.
Just as the disciples tied together their nets in preparation for their work, trusting that God will provide if they only accept the invitation, we too are tied together by our contributions to our ministry at First Church. Our programs at First Church are made up of all of us, of our resources, time and effort, and are available to all of God’s beloved children no matter what path we are on in life. That is the beauty of supporting our general operating budget. Your gifts support everything from activities for the Youth Group, to the time and planning that goes into worship and our music programs, to zoom subscriptions for small groups and meetings, to our building that provides the space for not only our ministry, but is a center for the work and play of our wider community.
Now more than ever, the world needs a witness to the healing and transformative power of the love of God and the ways in which God’s love shows up: in the intimate discussions of our small groups, in the embodied ways we are living out our commitment to racial justice, in feeding our neighbors, in supporting all of our members from the next generation of young people to the elders of the church. Together, we are learning how to venture into the deep water of God’s love, throwing our nets that we so lovingly knotted, having faith that God is doing a new thing in and through us in this transitional season. How might we lean further into that invitation to go deeper into relationship with one another?