If You Say So
Jesus said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “[Teacher], we have worked all night but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” – Luke 5:4-5 (NRSV)
At the stewardship committee meeting, the pastor reported that a Latino congregation nearby had just retired the debt on their building. They’d done it in three months solely with gifts from members who weren’t exactly rich.
The stewardship committee had just announced that they’d hit a pledging wall and wouldn’t reach their goal. “You can’t get blood from stones,” they said. That’s why the pastor told them about the Latino church, to inspire them.
They weren’t inspired. They got mad. “Ethnic congregations do that sort of thing,” the chairperson said. “That’s not us.” He was the same guy who’d recently told her that he wanted to set a church growth target of 30.
“You mean 30 a year?”
“No, 30 overall. Just enough new people to balance the budget and not lose our family feel.”
She’d asked him what he’d do if 31 people wanted to join, tell the extra one that we’re full and they have to go elsewhere? He got mad then, too.
Not every congregation thinks small and aims low, but in almost every church when folks get mad at possibility, it’s because they’re scared.
“Go away, Lord!” a frightened Simon says. For a long time he’s had a big problem: no fish. Suddenly he has an even bigger problem: lots of fish. What will he do with so much life?
Jesus keeps saying, “Cast again. In deeper water. There’s a haul waiting.”
We keep telling him, “There’s nothing down there, trust us.”
“No,” he says, “trust me!”
If you say so, Jesus, if you say so. Amen.
Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.