“God is a fisher whose lure is grace.”
I have long been intrigued by the connection that I believe exists between fishing and faith. There is something almost mystical to me about the human hunger for connection with the “unseen other” that exists in both the pursuit of both faith and fish. While I am a bit wary of taking this metaphor too far, I am convinced that both of these endeavors are inspired by the prospect of making connection with a living presence in the unseen depths. In the spiritual sense, this can be described as the “holy tug” that we experience in the moment we encounter the mysterious presence of God.
It is interesting to note that, in the Gospel of Luke, it is the practice of fishing that forms the backdrop for the calling of Jesus’ disciples. Luke tells us that Jesus appears on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and promptly instructs Simon Peter to “put out into deep water,” before letting down his nets. Even though Peter has fished all night without catching a thing, he does as Jesus instructs and what follows is an astonishing catch of fish. In fact, there were so many fish in the net that Peter had to call other boats over to help him manage the catch.
When they finally make it back to shore, Peter is so overwhelmed by the experience that he falls on his knees and confesses his unworthiness to be in the company of Jesus. Jesus then tells Peter not to be afraid because from that point forward, he will be called to fish for people. It is this invitation in the Gospel of Luke that signals the very beginning of the Christian movement.
I remember that, as a boy in Sunday School, we would sing the song that proclaimed, “I will make you fishers of men (people), if you follow me.” Now, at the time, it made sense to me. But, as I got older, I began to wonder about what it actually meant to fish for people. After all, it sounded a bit deceptive and even coercive. Did Jesus really intend for his followers to “catch” other people? Was that what he intended? Or, was there another way of understanding what he meant?
This Sunday in worship, I will be thinking about this invitation of Jesus to become “fishers of people” and what it might mean for us in our current context. In doing so, I will draw upon the mystical insight of Meister Eckhart who wrote that, “God is a fisher whose lure is grace.” I find this thought to be quite helpful in interpreting the intention of Jesus’ invitation to follow him. As I have come to understand it, the only coercion of the lure of grace is the coercion that comes from within—the persuasion that comes from one’s heart and the hunger to experience the “holy tug” of connection with God.
I will plan to say a bit more about this on Sunday morning and trust that this is enough to “lure” you into joining us for our online worship experience.
Grace & Peace,
Rev. Ron Dunn
P.S. Please remember to join us after our worship service for a time of zoom inspired fellowship. We will “gather” on line at 11:00 a.m. for this opportunity to check-in with each other. You can join us by clicking HERE.