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BOATS, NETS, FISH
July 22, 2005
 
Today's eMo -- a single sermon prep one -- is intended for preachers who wish to focus their congregations' attention on the work of the church through Episcopal Relief and Development's ministry with those who suffer from poverty, war, or other disaster. As with all the eMos, preachers and teachers are welcome to borrow, with the usual attribution.

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1 Kings 3:5-12
Romans 8:26-34
Matthew 13:31-33,44-49a
Psalm 119:121-136 or 119:129-136

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age.
- Matthew 18:48-49

The fishing boats of Sri Lanka are painted bright colors: sky blue and yellow, orange with a green bottom. Since February, Episcopal Relief and Development and the Diocese of Colombo have been helping fishermen repair their boats damaged in the tsunami -- those who were lucky enough to be able to find them. For the others, three busy boatyards have been established with ERD assistance, building new boats and employing people idled by the disaster. New fishing nets arrived quickly, to replace the ruined old ones, and a fleet of new canoes, and the fishermen are back out on the sea to search out the new fishing grounds -- life under the surface of the water has changed, as well, in the aftermath of the terrible wave.

Jesus' fishing imagery was familiar to his followers -- they were mostly fishermen. Maybe he first met them walking along the waterfront in the late morning, when the catch came in and they bought and sold fish on the water's edge. Who knows -- maybe he worked there, too. He had a soft spot in his heart, it seems, for these rough sons of the sea. Maybe they would make good preachers of the kingdom, he thought, because of what they had learned on the sea: courage, resourcefulness.

The main thing seafarers learn, though, is community. They must rely on each other; there is no manpower to spare on a small vessel; everyone depends on everyone else for his very life, as well as for his living. Jesus called the disciples one by one, and two by two, and they became part of something that functioned like a crew.

We function that way, still. We are called one by one into our life of holiness, but we do not live it alone. None of us can survive without the help of many, many others, and this is as true in the spiritual life as it is in the practical one. Our need for one another confounds the barriers of distance, language, culture and religion -- there is an ecology to the human family, and everyone depends in some way on everyone else.

To learn more about ERD, make a donation or volunteer, visit http://www.er-d.org or telephone 1-800-334-7626, ext 5129.
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Crafton
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