God Provides for Us

The Rev. Katherine G. Dougherty
Sermon Text: 

5th Sunday After Epiphany – Year C

February 10, 2019

(Post Vestry Retreat) – Luke 5:1-11

God Provides for Us

The Gospel Reading: Luke 5:1-11

       It has been a long night for Simon.  He has done everything a good fisherman is supposed to do.  He has been doing it like this for years…night after night, week after week, season after season.  But today was different.  The well-worn practices of the fishermen failed to return a bounty – their nets were empty.  Simon and the others had worked hard all night long, and they returned to the shore having caught not one fish.

         Though I grew up along the coast of Virginia, I am not one to go fishing, but I can relate to this story.  There have been times in my life when I’ve done everything I knew to do to achieve a dream or a goal.  I did my very best.  I worked hard – I faithfully showed up over and over again to the task at hand.  I prayed for guidance and imagined life having achieved that dream or goal, and for whatever reason – my net came up empty. 

         I’m guessing many of us can relate to this story.  You too may know what it’s like to work so hard and want it so badly, yet like Simon – our nets came up empty.  We were left entangled in disappointment … doubt…sadness…frustration…and anger.  One of the tricky things about life is our efforts may not always give us the reward we have worked for or hoped for.

         Did anyone notice where Jesus told Simon to go?  Jesus says to our tired, frustrated friend, Simon…to leave the shore, where the water is shallow…and to drop their nets in the deep water.  That’s right…the deep water…the place far from the safety of the shore.  Simon protests, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing.  But if you say so, I will let down the nets.”  Simon knows they’ve tried this before and not had success.  He and the others are fine with staying on the shore, mending their nets, and moving on with their day. 

         Though the story shared today is about fishermen, boats, and nets…the writer of this Gospel invites us to see beyond the simple details.  This story being shared is a story about life and transformation – both Simon’s and ours.  Jesus is calling Simon to a new life…a new way of being.  Jesus is famous for coming to us in the ordinary, everyday circumstances of our lives.  Regardless of our calling in life, we are encouraged to go out into those deep waters and let down our nets …trusting that God will provide. 

         On Friday night and throughout the morning yesterday, your Vestry, Deacon Karla, and I spent time together.  It is tradition in most Episcopal churches to have an annual Vestry Retreat shortly after the new Vestry members have joined the group.  This year’s retreat included some nuts and bolts type of work, and it included some dreaming…some story sharing about All Souls and this community …and some time outside on the Route 301 property.  Deacon Karla and I invited the Vestry to join us in prayerfully walking the boundaries of the property – to spend time with God on that piece of earth – to listen and to feel and to see.  After we finished our walk…we celebrated Eucharist outside on the property.  Together… we prayed our sacred prayers, and we shared Jesus’ life-giving body and blood with one another, as we stood in the middle of the field.

                 Like Simon, we left the comfort of the shore and our warm cars, and we lowered our nets.  None of us know what those nets will yield.  None of us yet know how God is calling us to use the Route 301 property to live out God’s call for All Souls, and yet there are a few things we do know.  We know that throughout the Bible are stories after stories of God providing … providing nutrients…care…protection…and love to us as a people. We know that God never deserted anyone and is with us now.  And we know that however God is calling us to use that property…the community of All Souls is just that…a loving community for ALL. 

         As we continue to journey together…may we lean into this place of unknowing and trust that God is here with us – loving us…calling us… and providing for us. 


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