Epiphany 5C, 2004
Luke 5:1-11

A Liturgy is also available


At last, I, Rex Hunt, have a biblical story I can personally relate to!
And with a name like Rex Hunt why wouldn’t it be a fishing story!

I can certainly remember the many times my dad
took my brother Ian and I fishing in Pine Lake,
just a few miles south east of Horsham in Victoria.

We would spin.
Wade out.
Cast out.
Reel in. 

The ‘silver wobbler’ was the best spinner to use in those waters.

And many times we would get our catch of Perch - also called Redfin -
within a short time of arriving.

Pine Lake was a great spot to catch Redfin.
And dad knew where and when to go.
And then that other bloke decided to use my name and make all the money!


The fishing motif in Luke’s story this morning has traditionally, it seems,
been regarded as a kind of recruiting slogan.

Although I think the US Army’s former invitation to
‘be all you can be’, had a lot more going for it.
(If you can say that about any such recruitment program!).

In traditional churchy language, it is regarded as a ‘call’.
But, I’m not so sure about that anymore.

In my conversations with this particular story by Luke
nowhere does Luke’s Jesus say to anyone: ‘Follow me’.
Those words are found in the version of the story
by those we call Mark and Matthew.

And because we recognise a similar theme in Luke,
as Luke has obviously know about the existence of those stories,
we do our own blending of all the stories, into one general story.

So Luke, it seems to me, is saying something far more radical.
Not about ‘call’ or ‘catching’ with all the different images
associated with those words.

But about being ‘captivated’.

My conversations with this story suggests
Peter and some of his friends are captivated by Jesus.
It's almost like they are ‘swept off their feet’ by him.

Both by being in Jesus’ presence.  And by the life-giving words: 
Don't continue to be afraid.
You will be restoring people to life and strength.

You see... for Luke, Jesus was special.
We hear that in the beautiful birth stories each Christmas.
We hear that in this fishing story.
And being special made Jesus different.

But how was Luke to say that?


There is story by Jack Shea which I feel echoes with what I am suggesting.
I invite you to hear it as I tell it (again).

Once upon a time, there was a very pious couple.
They had married with great love and the love never died.
Their greatest hope was to have a child
so their love could walk the earth with joy.

Yet there were difficulties.

 Since they were very pious, they prayed, and prayed and prayed.
With that, along with considerable other efforts,
lo and behold the wife conceived. 

And nine months later there came rumbling into the world,
a delightful little boy.  They named him Mordecai.
And the sun and the moon were his toys.

He was outgoing and zestful,
gulping down the days and dreaming through the nights.

And he grew in age, and wisdom, and grace
until it was time to go to the synagogue
and study the Torah, the Law of God.

The night before his studies were to begin his parents sat Mordecai down
and told him how important the Word of God was.

They stressed that without the Word of God
Mordecai would be an autumn leaf in the winter's wind.

He listened wide-eyed.

Yet the next day he never arrived at the synagogue.
Instead, he found himself in the woods,
swimming in the lakes and climbing the trees.

And when he came home at night,
the news had spread throughout the small village.
Everyone knew of his shame.

His parents were beside themselves.
They did not know what to do.

So they called in the behaviour modificationalists
who modified Mordecai's behaviour,
so that there was no more behaviour of Mordecai’s
that was not modified.

Nevertheless, the next day he found himself in the woods,
swimming in the lakes and climbing the trees.

So they called in the psychoanalysts
who unblocked Mordecai's blockages
so there were no more blockages for Mordecai
to be blocked by.

Nevertheless, the next day he found himself again in the woods, 
swimming in the lakes and climbing the trees.

His parents grieved for their beloved son. There seemed to be no hope.

It was at this time that the great Rabbi visited the village.
And the parents said, "Ah! Perhaps the Rabbi..."

And so they took Mordecai to the Rabbi and told him their tale of woe.

And the Rabbi bellowed, "Leave the boy with me, and I will have a talk with him."

Mordecai's parents were terrified.
So he would not go to the synagogue,
but to leave their beloved son with this lion of a man...

But they had come this far, so they left him.

Now Mordecai stood in the hallway
and the Rabbi was in the study
and he looked through the door at him and said, "Boy, come here."

Trembling, Mordecai came forward.
And then the great Rabbi picked him up and held him silently against his heart.

His parents came to get him and they took Mordecai home.

And the next day, he went to the synagogue to learn the Word of God.
And when he was done, he went to the woods.

And the Word of God became one with the word of the woods
which became one with the word of Mordecai.

And he swam in the lake.
And the Word of God became one with the word of the lake
which became one with the word of Mordecai.

And he climbed the trees.
And the Word of God became one with the word of the trees
which became one with the word of Mordecai.

Mordecai himself grew up and became a great man.
And people came to him who were broken inside.
And with him they found healing.

And people came to him seized with inner panic.
And with him, they found peace.

And people came to him who were without anybody.
And with him they found communion.

And people came to him, with no exits at all.
With him, they found possibilities.

And Mordecai often said,
"I first learned the Word of God when the great Rabbi held me silently against his heart."


Not in some holy or sacred place but in the midst of their ordinary everyday life,
doing what they did most days,
sometimes with regular monotony,

Peter and some of his friends were captivated by the presence of Jesus.

As Jesus was captivated by
the Source and Ground of Life, called God.

In our time, with the collapse of belief in the traditional image of God
(supernatural, interventionalist),
we have to find and be captivated by God 
in a new place,
in a new way.

And the most convincing place of all will be our own human hearts.
Not merely in some personal experience,
“locked away in the closet of introspection” as David Tacey puts it,
but perhaps rather the discovery of God in our interiority - heart and mind - 
will be the basis for a new appreciation 
of God in the world.

Captivated in this way, may we always be a blessing
to ourselves,
and to others.

And may we ever give thanks for the wonderful gift of reflective awareness
that allows us to recognise and name the presence of
a Creator Spirit beyond all imagining,
in our universe.  (Michael Morwood).