Last updated on March 26th, 2022
How were the first two months of the new year for you? In recent conversations, I’ve often heard that people are tired and struggling with motivation in the semi-lockdown after Christmas – I felt the same when I returned to work in January after falling ill with COVID (which was luckily a mild case). What makes me feel better these days is to talk to others about the sermon texts of the week in the Bible study via Zoom and see what message it has for us personally and for us as a congregation.
There is, for example, Jesus’ first sermon in a synagogue in his hometown, which he regularly attended as a devout Jew. He relates an old prophecy of Isaiah to himself (Luke 4:18-19):
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
In his further speeches and the encounters, as well as the miracles that follow them, he makes his mission unmistakably clear: to him and those who are to follow him, to those who are in focus, who are not doing well, who are socially disadvantaged, who suffer under the abuse of power and oppression by others.
The reactions of those listening range from astonishment and enthusiasm to irritation and anger. Nevertheless, Jesus does not let himself be deterred from his mission and also challenges his own people, for example the fisherman Peter, when he says:
“Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” (Luke 5:4-5)
The end of the scene is probably vivid in your mind, the almost bursting nets, the many hands and other boats that it takes to haul in this enormous catch coupled with Jesus’ promise to Peter: From now on you will be catching people! (Luke 5:10)
Such a picture seems almost utopian to us at the moment, the multitude of fish as a symbol for the many people that the Gospel will reach. Our experience with ongoing restrictions and reduced contact may be telling us something different right now. I hope that despite the sense of frustration and wasted effort that has accompanied us throughout this pandemic, we will find the courage to say, “if you say so” I will cast my nets once more, not shy away from the depths, look beyond my experience and expertise for healing experiences for myself and others. As a congregation, may we also trustfully find this attitude in order to strengthen our community through the pandemic so that we, too, can have a big catch in our hearts when we pass on the good news in word and deed, in ways that we do not yet know: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh (Luke 6:20-21).
– Pastor Annika Klappert