Monday, February 25, 2008

No limits

Lent 3 A Feb. 24, 2008 St. Paul’s
Exodus 17:1-7 Psalm 95
Romans 5:1-11 John 4:5-42

The Savior of the World brings water.

When I was in high school, Frank Herbert’s novel Dune was very popular. It is the story of life on a desert planet, where hallucinogenic sand spice is mined and traded. Yet on that desert planet, water was an even more precious commodity. The people wore suits which collected and recycled the water in their breath. Early each morning, the peasants would collect the tiny drops of dew; they could not afford to squander even the most minute amount of liquid.

Our own planet seems to be moving toward desertification. One of the consequences of global warming may be the increased possibility that people will fight over water. In a world that values the “them that gots get more” way of thinking, the rich will get water while the poor die of thirst.

In a world that values scarcity, competition, survival of the fittest, life is a zero sum game. If you have something, I don’t. If you lose, I win. It’s a world defined by limits and by what is mine (it’s not yours).

The woman comes to the well from such a world, a world of scarcity and argument and lack of security. This is a woman on the margins: the Jews shun the Samaritans because of centuries-old religious differences. She does not have the protection of a husband, and has somehow run through five of them. Men like Nicodemus, the proper and pious man we met in last week’s gospel, would have nothing to do with a woman like this. But remember: men like Nicodemus, even though they seek what Jesus has to offer, don’t get it. Men like Nicodemus, circumscribed by propriety and piety, stay in the dark, in the world of limits and scarcity, a world of ordinary life, and ordinary water – when Jesus offers living water and eternal life.

Both the story from Exodus, of getting water from the rock, and the conversation Jesus has with the woman at the well, use water to make two points.

The water is everything God has to offer: it is pure grace, never-failing love. It is profligately abundant. It refuses to be limited or channeled or controlled or dammed-up. The eternal life Jesus describes is as miraculous and surprising as the water springing from the rock in the desert. It is a water that will quench all thirst for all time.

Such living water – such eternal life – is a gift which has nothing to do with worthiness. It is not something taken from the categorically “bad” and given to the “good.” Receiving it does not depend on your lack of sin. God did not save the children of Israel in the desert because they were particularly good, or virtuous – remember what a hard time they gave Moses. God saved the children of Israel because he loved them.

The Samaritan woman, who came from a group who broke every law the Jews held sacred -- laws they lived by so they could be closer to God – even these Samaritans, Jesus said – especially these Samaritans and people like them on the margins of proper society – these are the ones who understand that this living water leads to eternal life. This woman at the well “gets it” so strongly that she becomes the first missionary. She runs back to town and tells everyone that this man she met comes from God, that this teacher delivers the goods – the message that answers every question they ever had, the salve that soothes every wound, the water that fills every heart to overflowing. And these poor people, on the margins of Israel, in a desert land of scarcity and hard-living, get it so strongly that Jesus stays with them two days. These poor village people, living on the margins, have ears to hear what the urban establishment, the rich, powerful and secure people do not: that Jesus speaks a truth that reveals the Spirit of God, and that, bringing this Spirit, he is the savior of the world.

In these two stories from the Gospel of John – that of Nicodemus and of the unnamed Samaritan woman – we are meant to see what gets in the way between us and God. Things we cling to get in the way, things we are afraid to lose. These two stories contrast someone who has much to lose, and so chooses to stay in darkness, with someone who recklessly leaves everything behind to tell the good news of what she has seen and heard. So often, like Nicodemus, we let complicated things get in the way. The reality of God’s love, God’s presence, God’s living water is far simpler and more straightforward than we often allow. That is Paul’s point in his letter to the Romans. God comes to us in our human condition – in our sinfulness and suffering, in our ordinariness, in our shortcomings, in our failures. It is nothing we deserve; God just loves us.

So drink of the living water. There is plenty of it, for all eternity. It has nothing to do with success or how much money you have or what street you live on. Your daily life might be measured by these things, meted out like drops of water on the planet Dune. The spring of living water is different from that. It gushes and rushes, it is wasteful and profligate and never comes to and end. From that fountain we can drink to our hearts’ content.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Lengthening of Surprizing Grace

We read a series of wonderful stories this Lent, stories which emphasize the wideness of God's mercy, the expansiveness of grace, the profligacy of love. These are stories of Jesus having improbable conversations with all sorts of people: the establishment leader Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman at the margins of society, the blind beggar by the side of the pool, and finally the dead Lazarus whom Jesus calls to come out of the tomb. This is not the vision of Lent we expect -- not the repent from your sins, nose to the floor kind of Lent. This is a Lent of repentance, meaning of turning around: turning around from the prisons that bind us, prisons of our own making or the prisons in which social expectations place us. It is a Lent of turning from death to life. Not an easy journey, but easier than you may think ...

Lent 2A Feb. 17, 2008 St. Paul’s

Genesis 12:1-4a; Psalm 121; Romans 4:1-5, 13-17; John 3:1-17

"The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes."

I’ve told this story before, about camping in a motor home, when our three older children were small. We were awakened around 5 or 6 in morning by a sound like that of an oncoming train. The towering pine trees among us were bending and breaking; the wind shook the vehicle. We heard cracking and whooshing, the sound of a powerful wind through the branches and needles, and then, quiet. No trees hit our heads, but the door was blocked by a fallen tree and another crushed the top of our car. A child we knew down the road had his foot broken by a tree that fell on his tent. A few miles away, a father died, sleeping next to his family, as their tent was crushed by a tree.

We certainly experienced that wind – the meteorologists called it a “micro-burst” – not a tornado but a wall of wind – but we could not even imagine controlling it. We didn’t know where it came from, or where it went, although in some places in the woods you can still see the uprooted trees. And try as we might to understand why this happened, we could not even begin.

You can tell I often think about this experience. It comes to mind when I am facing something I do not understand, or when something powerful happens to me that I cannot predict or control. When I need to imagine something not in human terms, but on the scale of how God works.

When Nicodemus came to Jesus, under the cover of darkness – was that so no one else would see him? Or is that just a symbolic device to illustrate to us just how little Nicodemus understands? –when Nicodemus came to Jesus, it was as a representative of the establishment, of the old guard – “old school” as young people say now. Nicodemus, as a friendly voice from the old guard came to Jesus and said, Just what are you doing, and don’t you think you could damp it down a bit?

Not a chance, Jesus said. If you are interested in what God is doing, the only way is to be born from above.

Born again? Nicodemus asks, misunderstanding Jesus’ word – missing the point entirely. Nicodemus thinks Jesus is talking in human, experiential, existential terms – “the kitchen table exists because I scrub it” kind of terms. To think so humanly, so literally, well, of course it does not make sense to be born again. How can that be? Nicodemus has a stake in the way things are for the religious establishment; he benefits – he sees no reason to change, to see anything in any new way.

No, Jesus says, you must be born from above. It’s like that wind that blew out of Canada that morning years ago. The Spirit blows where it will, and those who live in the realm of God experience that same powerful, uncontrollable, life-changing Spirit. Once you feel that Spirit, you cannot go back to old, predictable ways. It is those old ways that lead to death – if we live merely human, merely predictable lives, of course we will perish. We will have nothing else. But if we allow ourselves to be swept up in God’s uncontrollable and unpredictable Spirit, if we live the way God would have us live, it will lead us to eternal life.

I think Jesus is astounded that Nicodemus doesn’t get it – doesn’t get it that life in God’s Spirit is a great adventure in which we give up control of where the Spirit will take us. I think Jesus is astounded that such a teacher of Israel would forget a lesson so basic to the formative stories of the Jewish people. We read that story today: the story of Abram and Sarai leaving home to follow God’s promises of blessing and abundance. God was telling them to leave everything familiar behind – everything humanly possible – everything beloved and old and time-worn and traditional. To stay behind meant no future – no children, no descendents, no nation, no blessing. It was only when they left it all, when they followed the Spirit of God blowing like that uncontrollable windstorm – then and only then, God says, will this come to pass that in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

Remember that story of Abram and Sarai when you think God is asking you to do something impossible. Remember that blessing that blew their way on that powerful wind. Remember that Nicodemus stayed in darkness when he could have had eternal life. Remember that, when you take your next big risk, when you feel on the edge of the precipice, that God is the ground on which you take your next step.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Surprizing Wilderness

Lent 1 A Feb. 10, 2008 St. Paul’s

Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7 Psalm 32

Romans 5:12-19 Matthew 4:1-11

After Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness. He ate nothing for 40 days, and at the end of that time, the devil came to him with three temptations, that if he only did these three things, life would be good. The devil promised him money (all the bread he would ever need), power (all the kingdoms of the world would be under his rule) and protection – and at this point the Gospel sounds a lot like a plot from The Sopranos. Money, power, protection – if you just do what Tony Soprano says and don’t get anyone angry.

All three lessons today deal with sin – and I am afraid sin is something that is very much with us. Life on the streets, like life in the wilderness, is hard. You can see all the temptations just walking out our doors. Buy that bottle of whiskey, that bag of dope. Get angry at the least thing. Be suspicious, greedy, devious. The lessons today deal not with the mild sins of omission – the things we have left undone – but those big things we know all too well that we have done all too often.

And where did sin come from? St. Paul lays out the classic argument that lies at the basis of Western civilization: it was Adam, in his disobedience, who did it all. Adam’s curse. Adam’s fall. Jesus, the sinless one, through the grace of God, reverses that curse, restores us to our loving relationship with God, gives us a second chance.

But what a story we have in the gospel, which is a bit more nuanced than St. Paul’s letter to the Romans. The gospel story is the story of temptation. I think it is wrong to read into these lines that this temptation in the wilderness was easy for Jesus. Remember, Jesus, the son of God, is fully human, vulnerable to be tempted, vulnerable to sin. Money, power, protection: Jesus, the human being, knows just as strongly as we do why those things are appealing.

The word in German for “temptation” is versuchung. Literally, it means a mis-search. A mistaken quest. The word for “search” is suchen; a quest is die Suche. So a temptation is a search that goes awry, a search for something in the wrong place. Jesus did go on a search in the wilderness, and indeed in his ministry, he was concerned with money – mostly dealing with people who had very little – and with power – although he said his power was not that of this world – and with protection – with healing and care for the poor, the marginalized, the forgotten. So yes, the devil was right in that Jesus went out into the wilderness to search for things that included what to do about money, power and protection. But Jesus was right in knowing that the versions of those things offered by the devil were things that would take him further from God, not closer to God, who is, after all, the subject of all our quests and longings and searches.

Sin is not only about disobedience and punishment. It is not always about breaking rules, for we all know plenty of people who sin mightily, right out in the open, perhaps even following the letter of the law. People who have power behind them, people who have money, people who can be protected after they sin. Mostly, though, our sins are smaller, more mundane, slips of the tongue, little power plays, the desire to put my ego before the other person’s, my needs ahead of someone else’s. The list goes on and on.

But what sin is really about is distancing ourselves from God, and I don’t mean God as a little voice of conscience sitting on our shoulder. I mean God as our loving creator, who put us in this world to care for it as God intended it to be cared for, God who has already given us more than all the power and protection Satan’s money can buy.

The gospel lessons for Lent this year are stories that underscore just how much God loves us, and how much God tries and tries to get up close to us. We will read a series of stories from the Gospel of John: the story of Nicodemus, to whom Jesus says, you must be born of water and the spirit. The story of the Samaritan woman at the well, with whom Jesus discusses the water of eternal life. The story of Jesus restoring sight to the man blind from birth. And finally the story that sets in motion the events surrounding Jesus’ arrest, the story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. The stories of our Holy Lent this year are not stories of sin and disobedience, but of light, and love, and hope, and promise, stories of God coming to us time and time again, just to get us to turn around and get close. I invite you to the observance of this Holy Lent, a time of surprising grace. The angels will come and wait on us.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

ashes to ashes ...

Ash Wednesday 2008
Feb. 6, 2008
St. Paul’s

Joel 2:1-12, 12-17 Psalm 103:8-14

2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

It always seems so cold and raw at the beginning of Lent. Perhaps we are just longing for spring, for not feeling cold all the time, for seeing other than grey and white all around us. The feeling of rawness has to do, I think, with the lack of protection we feel from the elements. One week ago tonight, when it was just as cold and raw, there were 97 homeless people in Brockton: 29 on the streets, in tents, in the woods, under makeshift blankets; 68 spent the night at MainSpring, because they had no where else to go.

During the weeks of Lent, we see Jesus becoming more and more exposed and vulnerable to those who would do him in. Ultimately, of course, not even heaven can protect him -- no angels here, no trumpets, not even God comes in on a cloud.

What makes him vulnerable to these cold elements? He heals the sick, he clears the minds of the demon-possessed, he overturns the tables of money changers in the temple, he raises his friend Lazarus from the dead. He criticizes the old order, and proclaims the new one, the revealed order of the justice and mercy of God.

On this day we begin our own symbolic journey with Jesus to the cross. Lent is about turning around to face that cross, about being vulnerable as Jesus was vulnerable. This time of repentance, of turning around, means facing squarely the things that are wrong with our own lives, our own personal selves. It also means, as it did for Jesus, seeing and, if possible, confronting the things that are wrong in the world around us. Twenty-nine people on the street on a winter night, 68 people in a shelter because they have no where else to go – that is something that is wrong with the world around us.

Ash Wednesday is a good time to be reminded that that repentance, that turning around, on the macro, as well as the micro level, happens one person at a time. One heart at a time is turned toward God, and the way God would have us live.

We often have students who volunteer at St. Paul’s Table; listen to this story about how one heart was turned around:

The first question my mom asked me when I got home … was, “What is something you learned?” Without any hesitation I responded, “Even when your back is against the wall, know that God IS that wall supporting you and will always support you no matter what.” “Great advice,” my mom replied. “Who did you learn that from?” “Maxine, a woman who is homeless. I had the pleasure of eating lunch with her at St. Paul’s Table.

This student came to help here through My Brother’s Keeper, and in her letter she goes on to thank them for allowing her the opportunity to work with them, and with us, for a week. She goes on:

If you had asked me to describe the “poor” before …, I can guarantee I would have said something along the lines of individuals who are lazy and wasteful. I thank God I was able to see beyond my pre-existing stereotypes. Before, I was typecasting individuals such as Sam … as something he wasn’t. I realized he is a hard-working dad, grandfather, and husband trying to make ends meet after recently being laid off and sent to live in a shelter.

The experience brought to the student’s mind all those holiday canned food and toiletry drives she had been required to do. “Although I know these items make a huge difference in people’s lives,” she wrote, “I did it simply to go through the motions.” Now, she said, all those people have faces, lives, stories, realities.

… when I donate in the future I can say more than, “This soup can is for the poor.” Instead I can say, “This soup can is going to make sure little girls like Tracy are able to have something to eat so that they can perform well in school.

When problems are immense, we are often paralyzed, not knowing what to do next, not knowing how to take the first step. Those problems can be just our own, deeply personal ones, or they can be the ones on the large social scale that we face every day at St. Paul’s Table, the kind of problems that that student volunteer saw for the first time this winter. What are we to do next? Just keep handing out soup?

I have a friend who visited Africa as part of Episcopal Relief and Development. She learned this from an African woman she worked with there: When the mess around me is very big, very chaotic, I take my broom and start sweeping here, just around my feet. I can do no more than clean one small area at a time.

Ash Wednesday is the day we turn to face the cross, and take up our brooms and start sweeping, clearing out the dust from around our feet. It is winter. It is cold and wet. There are people sleeping out in the woods tonight. There are dark and cold spots in our hearts. Jesus calls us, to turn around.

some renovated churches

st gregory of nyssa, san francisco

all saints, brookline
Last Epiphany A Feb. 3, 2008 St. Paul’s Exodus 24:12-18 Psalm 99 2 Peter 1:16-21 Matthew 17:1-9

We’ve been going to the beach on sunny days like yesterday. We’ve taken to walking the shore in the afternoon light, pink and blue and yellow, with a calm sea fluttering out before us. Quiet times at the Oceanside are times of rest and reassurance, but the never-ending tide changes the sand with every wave.

We hike in the summer, up mountains – mostly not so high ones – and go swimming and boating and take walks in the woods. There are transcendent moments out in the wild world, in places that are not domesticated, not climbed or hiked or canoed too often. We often call on experiences like that from our memory when we try to imagine what happened to Peter, James and John, who thought they were alone on that mountaintop with Jesus – only to look up and be struck to the ground in terror to see a blast of light, to see three figures and not one, to have no idea what was going on. No, we don’t know, how can we know what to do when God’s bright, holy uncontrollable light shines on us with a mighty blast?

This is one of the very few years when we have the story of Jesus’ baptism, and this story of the Transfiguration, so close together – just a few weeks apart. God actually plays a part in these lessons, and God repeats his line in each: “This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him!” Baptism, when Jesus got his watery start in ministry, and Transfiguration, with three quivering disciples under manifestations of the Son of God and two prophets. Annie Dillard, a popular writer of spiritual musings, says that this story raises two questions in the modern mind:

The question from agnosticism is `Who turned on the lights?' The question from faith is `Whatever for?'

You may indeed be sitting there wondering, who turned on the lights? Who is this God anyway, who acts in such a mysterious way? It may take years – a lifetime even – to tussle with that question. But its partner is equally mysterious: Whatever for? Now what? What is next? What are we supposed to do now, God?

Look where Jesus takes the bewildered disciples: they cannot stay in this mysterious, glowing place. Down the mountain – to what? Back to work, boys, Jesus seems to be saying. There is a world out there that needs us. You can’t stay here where things look perfect, where religious experiences are well, conventional, if not predictable. This story appears in three gospels, and in each of them Jesus drags the disciples back to the world the needs healing and hope and hard work. In each of the gospels this story of the glorious religious experience is followed by the story of the healing of a boy so ill he is described as possessed by a demon.

What does it mean, then, to follow Jesus? To be marked as Christ’s own forever? That experience of the Transfiguration can be inspiring, enlightening, hopeful, terrifying – the classic mountaintop experience. But the work of true discipleship is on the ground, here, on the streets, in this place, at home, where people need Jesus to calm the demons and get their lives put back together.

We here at St. Paul’s have both experiences to offer people who are yearning to get their lives put back together. We have a beautiful church – a sacred space – this is the house of God, this is the gate of heaven. This is an oasis in this city – once we get the heat working again!! – that can offer a battered world a bit of respite and peace, a place perhaps, where all kinds of people can glimpse the glory of God we have glimpsed.

But this is also sacred space because it is a different kind of oasis, an oasis where you can get a hot lunch with no questions asked, an oasis maintained by a small, faithful, stalwart crew when all odds seemed against you. That’s discipleship. That is what it means to come down the mountain and get back to the working of healing and binding and feeding and helping. Being a disciple means we follow Jesus, yes, but we follow Jesus by doing what he did: by giving it all away.

The time has come to pull these two pieces of religious experience together: the glory, and the discipleship. When we go back into the main sanctuary – in about a month – we are taking some of this chapel experience with us. We are taking the free-standing altar. We are going to rearrange the first section of pews in the church – yes, unbolt them from the floor and move them around. No, we won’t be sitting this close to each other in there, and maybe we won’t be this in your face with each other, but we will be seated where we can see each other. Where the altar is on the same floor as we are. Where no one will worry about tripping up or down stairs on their way to receive communion.

This is not a fad. This is about discipleship, about invitation, about including strangers – yes even strange strangers – in this sacred community where we encounter God and feed each other. People will be able to walk in the door, and see that same marble altar, that wooden, carved reredos, hear that organ – the same as ever.

But we are here not only to worship that altar space, glorious as it is. We are here to connect the glory of the mountain with the world of service.

The experience on the mountaintop cannot leave us unchanged. When we go back into the church, with the pews rearranged, with the altar in our midst, yes, we will be better equipped to welcome people who come to us. But the real Transfiguration will be here, within us, within each of us, connecting the glory of God with the world God wants us to serve.

Over the next few weeks we will have an opportunity to go visit other churches that have placed the altar in the midst of the people. We will look at historical documents, and see this arrangement in the earliest of Christian churches in Italy and Greece and Jerusalem. We will have pictures and drawings of how we might arrange pews and chairs, places where we might hear the word and share the bread and wine. After Easter, we will add a second service, so we have one which retains traditional Prayer Book liturgy, and one, or more, which reaches out to the many cultures and languages and people who now call Brockton home. We can do this.

It’s Transfiguration Sunday, the last Sunday before Lent, when we engage more deeply with what it means to walk the way of the cross. Like Peter, James and John, we’re running down the mountain, and there is Jesus up ahead, pointing the way, to people in need, to people who need us to show them the way.

You guessed, it really IS all for the best ...

Epiphany 3-A Jan. 27, 2008 St. Paul’s
Isaiah 9:1-4 Psalm 27
1 Corinthians 1:10-18 Matthew 4:12-23

If life was always going smoothly, I don’t know how I would read the Bible. If a group of people lived in a society where there was enough money, where everyone not only knew their place, but were happy and secure in it, where resources were abundant, the water clean, the skies clear, the sofa comfy and the wine chilled, well, then, how could this Bible make sense to them? They would have no idea of what Isaiah was talking about, bringing light to those in darkness, for their way has always been straight and well-lit. They would see no connection between the first line of today’s gospel, “When Jesus heard that John had been arrested.” They had never known anyone who had ever been arrested. They would have no idea of the fear of authorities, of the assumption that those authorities might be unjust or not acting on behalf of their interests. They would not know what it meant to leave everything one had behind just to follow Jesus, an itinerant teacher, who preached a message of light, repentance, change, good news – they would have no need to follow such a preacher because their lives were good already. Why follow Jesus if you have nothing to gain?

Well, thank God none of us are in that position. Do you remember the song from the musical Godspell, a musical based on the Gospel of Matthew? This song is from the part in the musical about the early ministry of Jesus, when he is calling people to join him.

Some men are born to live at ease, doing what they please,
Richer than the bees are in honey
Never growing old, never feeling cold
Pulling pots of gold from thin air
The best in every town, best at shaking down
Best at making mountains of money
They can't take it with them, but what do they care?
They get the center of the meat, cushions on the seat
Houses on the street where it's sunny…
Summers at the sea, winters warm and free
All of this and we get the rest...
But who is the land for? The sun and the sand for?
You guessed! It's all for the best...

There is a lot of speculation about why those four fishermen up and followed Jesus, leaving everything – family, livelihood, familiar surroundings – behind. One scholar says this is a miracle story, like the feeding of the 5000, explainable only as an action of the Holy Spirit. Others think Jesus already knew these guys, they were familiar with his message, and even though they abruptly left what they were doing to follow him, the way had been prepared. Yet the power of Jesus’ invitation is clear; it produced immediate results.

There was something about that Good News that the fishermen were eager to hear. If they didn’t know Jesus before this, somehow they were ready for what he had to say. There was something that made them know, “This is it.” Perhaps they were so far down, that they were ready for hope. Perhaps if they were a little better off, a little more secure, a little closer to the centers of power and prosperity in Jerusalem, they wouldn’t be interested in Jesus.

Jesus knows people who were thrown in jail for not doing anything wrong. Jesus as a baby once hid from that same Herod who jailed John, and this time Jesus stays, goes further into Herod’s territory, into Galilee, by the sea where people make a subsistence living fishing with nets. It’s these people, who have nothing but hope, who are ready to hear the Good News, who understand that repentance means turning around things inside themselves and outside of themselves that have gotten so bad, people who know they have everything to lose – the families, their fishing, their place – and that they have everything to gain.

There are a lot of fish in the sea. When I think of these sea-side stories in the Bible, I have a Sunday school-version of fish in my mind, fish that are all the same, manageable to catch, pretty, worth money if they are sold. Fish that would be good to eat. Fish that are desirable. It’s part of that Sunday school picture I have of those “happy, simple, fisherfolk.” If they were so happy, why would they leave to follow Jesus? Why not just stay there and fish?

Someone pointed out to me this week that there are lots of kinds of fish in the sea: there are sharks, and swordfish, and electric eels. If we cast the net as wide as Jesus wants us, to, we may catch some fish we didn’t think we wanted, fish that under other circumstances we might want to throw back. The people to whom Jesus said, “from now on you will be catching people,” knew that fishing was a risky, difficult and not always prosperous business. What does this say about the way Jesus describes what he wants us to do?

This idea came across my desk while I was preparing this sermon:

There is a great deal of difference between fishing for fish and fishing for people. Fish can be caught against their will and violently pulled from the sea. People are caught by uncovering the deep desires of their hearts.

That’s what caught Simon and Andrew, James and John: they were caught by someone who offered them what they had been yearning for their whole lives. No matter who the fish are outside our doors, what we have to offer here is what they yearn for: a new chance, a new life, a new home, some bread, some wine, maybe even some fish. Leave behind those old things, all those things we thought we had. From now on, Jesus assures us, we will be catching people.