Each fall in our church we've started using the Season of Creation Lectionary which gives us five Sundays with themes about our relationship with the world around us. It was started in Australia, which explains why we are engaging creation at the harvest end of our summer - it's coming into spring down there. But that's not a bad thing. We're surrounded by the beauty of creation in it's abundance, rather than the expectation of it.
So this week, as we enter September and some return to school, some to work and some just to the routine of the fall season, we are diving into the Ocean. The gospel story is Luke's account of the calling of the first disciples, fishermen that Jesus meets by the Sea of Galilee. "'Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.' When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him" (Luke 5:10-11).
Except they didn't leave "everything." That's why the story is so deep in meaning (pun intended). They were still fishermen, casting their nets out into the deep sea. That skill they bring with them. What they leave behind is the physical "stuff," their boats and nets. And families, too. It's just that now they're fishing in a sea of life, not water.
Okay, that's a huge change, but the metaphor is still beautifully simple and appropriate. It should also call us to wonder , though, at the risk that is always present in following Jesus. Not what we might be leaving behind, but what we might be sailing into. Just as he did the disciples, Jesus calls us to dive deep into a sea that's unfamiliar to us.
But it's a sea that's full of great mysteries and wonders. That's why it's such a great story to begin a period of reflection about our relationship with the world around us. Dive in, Jesus says, the water's fine.
And it is. And abundantly blessed by Jesus. When he first comes to the seashore in Luke's story, the fishermen had been having a bad day. They'd caught nothing. Jesus, after preaching from one of the boats, tells them to "put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch" (Luke 5:4). They do, and suddenly there are so many fish they need help to bring them in.
If we are willing to go into the deep water with Jesus, we, too, will find an abundance where we previously found little. That's the risk - and promise - to which Jesus calls us.
What a great time of year to reflect on that. For some, we go back to familiar things and familiar places. Yet, we still go forward to new experiences. For others, new places and new experiences might mean the only truly familiar thing is ourselves. In every case, Jesus calls us to go deep, to experience the richness of life - challenge and opportunity, mystery and wonder - trusting that God goes there with us.
So take a deep breath and dive in. Go deep. Jesus is with you.