Pastor’s Ponderings

One of my favorite Easter stories comes from the Gospel of John. It takes place a few days after Easter, Jesus has appeared to the disciples twice now. And one day Peter and a few other disciples decide to go fishing. It seems like a perfectly normal thing to do, after all they have spent the majority of their adult lives fishing. And so now that their time following Jesus around Galilee seems to have come to an end they return to fishing. But they were not very successful. They fished all night and they did not catch a single fish. They are discouraged and frustrated and then just after dawn they hear a man standing on the beach asking them if they have no fish. When they honestly reply that they do not, he tells them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat because there they will find fish. So, figuring it can’t hurt to try, they cast their nets to the other side. And they cannot even haul the nets into the boat because they were so full with fish. Immediately they recognize that this stranger on the beach is the risen Jesus and they quickly go to shore to meet him, build a fire, and feast on fish with him.

I love that the disciples, at a loss for what to do now that Christ has risen, return to something familiar. They return to what they know. But they find that it does not quite work out for them anymore. And here comes this man with a ridiculous suggestion that the problem is simply that they are fishing from the wrong side of the boat! The man tells them to cast their nets to the right side of the boat. Like all fishermen at the time, the disciples were fishing from the left side of the boat. This is because the steering apparatus was located on the right side of the boat and thus fishing from that side risked tangling the net with the steering apparatus when a full net of fish was raised into the boat. This meant fishing from the right side of the boat could result in damage to the boat or the net, something any fisherman would want to avoid. And yet the disciples find, when they allow the risen Jesus to change their old fishing habits they get an abundant catch.

We are so like those disciples returning to fishing. We celebrate this Easter season while going about our old habits, routines, and patterns of life. Like the disciples, we too return to what we know. Jesus does not admonish the disciples for returning to their old way of fishing. Instead he offers them a small but significant transformation, a twist on the old way that has huge results. And the risen Jesus offers us a twist on the old way, we are called to respond to Resurrection with fearless love that transforms even our smallest habits, routines, and ways of life. What would it look like for you to fish on the other side? What would it look like for you to go about everyday life responding to the call of the risen Christ? Cast your nets to the other side. Allow familiar ways to be transformed by resurrection love.

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