Jonah 3:1-5; 10 

Psalm 62:6-12 

1 Corinthians 7:29-31 

Mark 1:14-20 

“Fishermen of Eire” 

Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen. 

When I began formulating how I was going to address this  sermon, most especially what title I should give it, I was  attempting to be unique and not bland. Now this is my first time in  memory living near a large body of water, thus upon seeing this  Gospel I thought, “You know what, Fishermen of Erie sounds  unique.” Now, after thinking of this title, which too a good amount  of time and effort, I got all giddy over my perceived  accomplishment. I was excited over this hurdle I conquered, for  “Fishermen of Erie”, from my perspective, was incredibly unique. 

[Sigh]… 

Of course it is not unique, I would wager every pastor who  lives on or near the lake have thought of this title or something  similar once in their life time. In fact, maybe a bland title would  have been unique, because who uses bland titles for this Gospel  these days? Why not call it, “Fishermen” or simply “Fisher of Men”  or “The first Disciples”? This is one of those special cases where  uniqueness and blandness has swapped places; when the unique  become so common that they inevitably become bland and the  bland become so sparse that they become the unique.

And to top it all off, after creating this title, and figuring that  my sermon would tie the Gospel and Erie together, I present my  sermon title to our lovely secretary Linda, almost like a child that  caught a frog, or a pet that is presenting for you it’s prize kill. I  was so excited, and that’s when she told me that John already  gave a similar sermon fairly recently. And it dawned on me, what I  thought was unique, up here was utterly common. Now is that  going to stop me? No, because here is the thing, whereas I feel  like a sad balloon that has lost half its air and is now rolling on the  floor, this connection in of itself should be used frequently. Why?  Because it is a means of tying our daily lives and things we  commonly understand, the mundane, to concepts of the divine.  And if we frequently bring up these ties that binds us, then it  becomes easier for us to understand and appreciate the fullness  of God’s amazing grace and glory and mercy. 

When Jesus came to Peter and Andrew, Fishermen, did he call them to be Sowers of Faith? No, they were not gardeners.  That would be like me, who just came from farmland, preaching  about tractors to all of you. No, Jesus came to these fishermen  and used a very interesting play on words, you who are  fishermen, “follow me and I would make you become fishers of  men.” Fishermen, Fishers of Men, get it? Jesus loved his puns  and his play on words, and this is no different. In fact, I would  believe, had Jesus had a following at that time, that many would  have groaned at his pun. Most would have been fascinated by his  wisdom and the connection he made, but I would still believe that  there would have been some who would have groaned,  fishermen, fisher of men, [groan].

But here is the thing, should we expect Jesus to be the only  one who calls disciples to come and follow Him? Should we just  sit idly by and wait for the Holy Spirit to enter into our neighbors  and then act all surprised when they suddenly show up to our  places of worship? Do we go about our peaceable lives, not trying  to shake the boat, so as not to offend our non-Christian or  supposedly-Christian neighbors? Is it better to keep a friend and  wait for the Holy Spirit to enter into their live on account of nothing  we do, rather than the potential to lose a friend but gain a brother  or sister in with and through Christ? 

I ask you this, what is the most loving thing you can do for  your neighbor. Christ did tell us that the second greatest  commandment is to love they neighbor, so what is the greatest  way you can express such love? Why, preaching the Gospel.  That is the highest form of love. For we know that through Christ,  who died on the cross for our sake, was buried, took on our sins,  went to Hell so we wouldn’t go to Hell, but rose most gloriously on  the third day and will be with use now and forever – we know that  we are indeed saved and will be in Heaven and will live eternally  and will experience this joy alongside all of our brothers and  sisters in Christ. We know this to be true, as oppose to the horror  of experiencing eternal damnation and pain and terror in the fire  pits of Hell. Should we not, out of the kindness of our hearts,  proclaim the Good News and serve as a testimony of what Christ  has did for us for those who may not know Him yet so that they  too, through the Holy Spirit which proceeds from the Gospel we  speak, may obtain faith in Christ and experience this joy and  realize the truth which is revealed to us in Christ, that is that the  Love of God which surpasses all understanding?

There is a reason why the first thing Jesus tells Peter, Simon  bar-Zebedee, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of  men,” and one of the last things he tells Peter being the Great  Commission, to preach, baptize, and teach in the name of the  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That is what it means to be a fisher  of men, it is to be one who has been given the human  responsibility, as disciples of Christ, of going out into the world so  that others may have faith in Him. We are to go out into the open  seas, which sometimes is calm and other times raging a fierce  storm. We are to go out and brave whatever comes our way, cast  our nets and our lines, with the Word being the bait and the hook,  and wait. 

Here is the thing; no amount of reason will convince anyone  of believing. No crafty arguments, no models, no logical charts or  rational processes, no nothing crafted and molded by human  intellect will ever lead a non-believer towards faith in God. Now all  these are important to teach to Christians not as tools to convince  non-believers but as armor and a shield to protect your faith from  the counterarguments of the world. Yet no amount, of reason will  convince anyone of believing; No, not anything, but the Holy  Spirit. For it is impossible for anyone to believe in Jesus Christ,  thus it takes a miracle for such a realization to happen, and that  miracle does indeed happen when the Holy Spirit enters into you.  But how will the Holy Spirit enter into you if no one proclaims the  Good News to you or baptizes you? This is how you convince  anyone of believing, by proclaiming that Christ died for them. This  is our human responsibility, this is what it means to be a fisher of  men.

Now we are of Erie, not Capernaum, like the first of the  disciples, but of all the disciples, the easiest to understand may  just be Peter and Andrew due to our close proximity to the lake  and the high likelihood that we either fish or are familiar to fishing.  This includes gentle fishing, ice fishing, and the more extreme  fishing during stormy winds. Fishing can be relaxing, sometimes it  is outright boring; other times it is refreshing, other times,  depending on how crazy you are, it is bizarrely cold; sometimes it  is gentle, and other times you are traversing through rain and  waves that would flip much smaller vessels; sometimes the catch  is small, and other times you may need another fisher to help you  reel in your big catch. Fishing comes with it its own fair share of  variations. But there are several things that tie them all together.  First, you go to a location where there are things to catch. Next  you use the proper equipment necessary for catching. Then you  wait. And last, you get your catch. 

As fisher of men, we understand, how could you reach out to  the people if you do not go out to where the people are? You  don’t just wait for them to go to you, but you too must go out to  them. And when you fish for men, you must always fish with the  Word of God on your tongue. This is your proper equipment, for  the Word whether through Scripture, vocal, or baptism is the bait  and hook and net that ultimately catches the men you are fishing  for. It is not acts of humanity or crafty arguments, though you may  use them, but the Word which in the end makes believers. If I  may, I have heard of so many supposed “mission trips” organized  by other church bodies and I would ask them, “What did you do?”  They would say things such as, “We dug a well.” “Uh-hung, and  pray tell me, did you preach the Word?” “Well, no.” If you don’t 

preach the Word, you did not conduct a mission trip. That is the  only requirement. I’m reminded of those funny jokes which say,  “you only had one job!” 

And the last thing, as fisher of men, before we make our  catch, is to wait. We may preach all we like, but in the end, it is up  to them to receive. Now they cannot receive that which is not  given to them, therefore we must preach, but just because we  preach to them does not mean they will definitively become a  Christian. Therefore we much have patience. Now this does not  mean we stop preaching, and then wait, that is like casting or  lines and after a couple seconds reeling in our hooks, placing our  rods on the floor of our boats, waiting for several minutes, and  wondering why we aren’t catching anything. The hook and the  bait is the Word, therefore you, a fisher of men, needs to keep on  preaching the Word so that eventually someone gets caught up  by the Word. And once they do, it’s time to reel in the catch. And  as the catch is being reeled in there will be much cheering and  excitement. 

That is what it means to be Fishermen of Erie.  

Let us pray, 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, through your disciples many have  come to see the glory of your Son Jesus Christ who lived, died,  rose again, and lives for all eternity for our sake. Make us your  willing fishermen so that through us many may be caught up by  the Word. In your most Precious name we pray, Father, Son, and  Holy Spirit. Amen.

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