Readings and questions for reflection: Sunday, Sept. 8

Isaiah 65:17–25
For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people; no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it, or the cry of distress. No more shall there be in it an infant that lives but a few days, or an old person who does not live out a lifetime; for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth, and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, or bear children for calamity; for they shall be offspring blessed by the Lord—and their descendants as well. Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox; but the serpent—its food shall be dust! They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the Lord.

Luke 5:1-11
Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “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.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “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.
Isaiah 65:17-25
In this passage, the prophet proclaims that God is creating a “new heaven and a new earth,” and then he goes on to describe the nature of this new creation: prosperity (“they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit”), justice (“my chosen shall enjoy the work of their hands . . .”) and peace “the wolf and the lamb shall feed together.”) This utopian vision suggests that God’s work continues in the present day, that God is currently active in the affairs of humankind.

Luke 5:1-11 This is a much-beloved story from the Gospels in which the disciples have been fishing all night long and have caught nothing, but at Jesus’ command, they “put out into the deep and let down [their] nets for a catch.” This time they haul in so many fish that the boats are nearly capsizing. The image here is of a breakthrough following on a time of frustration and empty nets. The sea beneath us (now we are speaking metaphorically) is rich with possibility, even when we think that we’ll never catch anything again.

In both passages, we are asked to trust in a future that we cannot see and count on a God who promises to do a “new thing.” We do this not on the basis of evidence but of faith and an understanding that all of creation—and even God’s self—are still in a process of becoming.

In what realm of your life are you coming up with “empty nets”?
Where are the “deep waters” of your life into which you may be called? What does it mean to say that God is constantly in a state of becoming/changing . . . and to say, at the same moment, that God is eternal?

The Rev. Dr. James Gertmenian
Senior Minister

About PlymouthSpirit

Plymouth Congregational Church is a progressive faith community grounded in the Christian tradition. We are spiritual, loving, relevant and transforming.
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