The Fifth Sunday after Trinity – Historic Lectionary – Luke 5:1-11 – July 16, 2017
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
When it comes to our vocations in life – that is, what we’ve been given to do, who we’ve been called to be, the stations and callings in which the Lord has placed us– when it comes to these vocations, the Word of the Lord on these things is often in the Scriptures, embarrassingly simple.
The Lord calls us to rise and be about our work, to live in our callings, and yet, this is where the Lord’s Word on how we live in our vocations ends. He calls us to be worried and concerned with nothing else, that is to pay no attention to how our work will be repaid.
For that, He has given us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread”, the promise that He himself will be worried and concerned about the rest of it, that is the how, in how we will be fed and sustained.
Where God has commanded and called us out of bed and into the school and into workplace in the morning, He does not call us to be concerned or worried about what the payoff will be.
Where He calls the husband to love his wife, as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her, that is to sacrifice and place the wife above Himself, He does not command the husband to be worried or concerned about how he might be loved in return.
The Christian is to be concerned first with goodness of his work, with how it benefits the neighbor, serves the community, and lives peaceably within the Lord’s creation.
He is commanded to be ethical regardless of how it might affect his bottom line, to serve his employer diligently whether or not he moves up the company ladder, to care for his fellow workers, and show forth the peace of his faith, in peaceful work.
He is promised daily bread, he is promised the Lord’s mercy and goodness, the Lord’s care and protection, and for the Christian that is enough, that is faith.
The Word of God simply calls us to rise, to serve, and to be about the work that is fitting of the vocations in which we live.
But in no way does the Lord ever invite us to be concerned with how our work will be repaid, or with how our daily bread will be given.
Today, Jesus commands Peter to simply be about the work of a fisherman. He provides no details, no strategies, no guaranteed payoff, but simply says, “Put out into the deep, and let down your nets.”
From Peter’s side of things, based on everything that could be seen, this is bad advice. It promises no payout, and will most likely be a waste of time and resources.
Yet despite how bad this advice might seem, Peter nonetheless complies with the Lord’s command.
He does so in faith, even if his confession faith is a bit shaky.
For Peter says, “Master we have toiled all night and caught nothing. But at your Word I will let down the nets.”
This is not necessarily a shining example of clear and trusting faith.
For one, Peter does not address Jesus as Lord or Christ, or Son of God, He doesn’t confess Him as the one to be trusted because His promises true.
He simply says master, that is, one who has authority and has earned some of Peter’s respect.
But master is a far cry from Lord, it’s not at all the same thing.
And yet, for as weak as this confession might be, it is to us, perhaps the best picture of feebly yet trusting faith on this side of glory.
In other words, we don’t get much better than this.
For we too don’t really fear, love and trust in God above all things. We don’t intimately have faith in the Lord’s power when it comes to living out our vocations.
Instead, even in the best of our confessions of faith, we say and believe roughly the same thing, that God is someone to respected, that we should pay attention to Him, even if we don’t really trust all that He says.
In this way, Peter as he lets down his nets, shows us what it means to live in vocation in this fragile and earthly life, that is, to work and act always in spite ourselves, indeed to act against the desires of our hearts, minds and our flesh.
To live faithfully in what we have been called to be, means to live against and opposed to what we want to be, it is to do what is unnatural, to act in spite of ourselves.
For we are not, by nature, who the Lord has called us to be.
Husbands in this life, are not ‘naturally’ sacrificial, citizens are not ‘naturally’ loyal, and children are not ‘naturally’ obedient.
Indeed, we have been called into vocations that are in constant conflict with who we often want to be.
On this side of glory, the desires of the Lord are against our flesh, and our life in Holy Baptism is one of conflict, which means, it is one of faith, and one of living in spite of ourselves.
For in fact, your vocation is not really concerned with you in the end. It’s goal is not for you to finally feel at one with yourself, in heart, mind, body and soul. Indeed, it actually calls you to live outside of yourself.
To be called into vocation, is none other than to be called into community. It is to be called out of ourselves, out of our isolation and selfishness, out of all of our attempts to take care of ourselves and make sure that we get enough daily bread.
Vocation calls you unto your neighbor, and unto the faith of Christ Himself.
It is always relational. And if you’re wondering then where you fit into all of this, if in fact your vocations are not about you but about others, then you need only look to Christ and to your neighbor.
For we live and move and have our being, in the vocations and callings of others.
In Holy Baptism, St. Peter, the apostles, the fishers of men, and you and I, live in the vocation of Christ Himself.
We live with what He provides, the Word that comes to us, forgives our sins, and comes back out of our mouths for the life of the world.
He promises above all to care about the rest, to be concerned Himself with how we are sustained, how we are forgiven, set free, and made to live in Him.
This indeed, is not your work, and you are not called to worry about it.
For you, He will care about your rest, as His body is lifted up, and as the greater Jonah, His life is thrown into the depths of the sea; your sin, drowned in His death; and His resurrection now coming to you, the net of eternal life gathering you from the depths of death and into His Holy ark, the Church; His communion, His life.
He will take care of how you are found and remain in His life, for He will send to you St. Peter, the apostles, His Holy Word, pastors and the baptized, He will take their work, the words they speak, the comfort they proclaim, and He will make that work your rest, your peace, your great comfort and provision.
He will call you into vocation, living not of yourself, but of His life, His Word, His daily bread and the cup of His promise. He will daily fix your eyes in faith not on yourself, but upon His own calling and vocation, to be your life, and your peace.
For He promises that even as we are unfaithful, even as our confession like St. Peter is lacking of full faith and certain hope, where we have been unfaithful, He is faithful for us.
Indeed, just as it is in our earthly vocations, that we have been called simply to live in what the Lord has given us, and to not worry about how these things will be, how the fish will come into the net, how our daily bread will be given; so it is in the Holy Christian Church.
In embarrassingly simple terms, with embarrassing simple things, the Lord calls us to live in His vocation, His Word, Water, Body and Blood, to be about the life of the Church sitting at His feet, eating from His table, and living in the water that flows down from His side.
And that is where your vocation, your life in this body ends. He does not call you to be worried about anything else; about how He will gather His church, how His kingdom will remain to the end of time, and how even the gates of hell will not prevail against it.
Though it may seem like terrible fishing advice, our Lord does not invite us to plot and scheme as to how the Gospel might better be preached with different words and new ideas, or how the church might drag more fish into the net through the best programs and strategies.
He simply calls us into His boat, to Hear His own Word, to live in His own peace. He promises that that is enough, that He will have good use of it, indeed good use of you, that He will gather His sheep, and gather men into the net of His peace.
That is His work, and His work alone. He promises to be faithful, and for us, that is enough, even if it is hard to hear, and even if we don’t fully believe or trust it at all times.
At every turn, His word is our peace. When we despair in our flesh, when we grumble and complain, when we realize the weakness of our faith, when we grow frustrated under the so-called bad advice of His church and mission; we see that we are indeed unfit for the task ahead.
And that kind of knowledge can lead us quickly to despair, we might say then with St. Peter, depart from me, Lord, for I am unworthy; at yet every turn, even in our despair, even as we fail in the very life that He has called us to live in, He Himself is faithful to care about the rest, to be our peace, our sustenance, and our life.
He does not depart from you, no matter how unworthy you might feel, for He Himself has made you worthy by His own work, and He places you now in the rest that has already been won.
In the name of Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.