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Red fish, orange fish

by davesandel on November 6th, 2021

Saturday, November 6, 2021                                     (today’s lectionary)

Red fish, orange fish

To him who can strengthen you, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret for so long, to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ be glory forever and ever.

John the building manager at Grace Covenant Church saw me walking across Jollyville Road with Miles and Jasper and hollered over, “The tree guys aren’t coming today!” Wednesday’s heavy rain slowed them down, so we won’t get to watch them prune live oak branches on the church campus. But that’s OK. We were going fishing.

We haven’t been fishing since spring. Marc took all of us to Moby Dick’s Private Fishing Pond near Bastrop, and all of us caught some fish. Now Miles and Jasper have their own Little Shakespeare rods, just like the ones they used at Moby Dick’s. They carried them across Jollyville Road, tips up, and I brought along some orange juice, box of raisins, and three bags of Pirate’s Booty cheese puffs. The sun was shining, the air was calm and 61 morning degrees … it doesn’t get any better than that.

The big live oak in front of the church doors made up the middle of our imaginary pond. Miles’ fishing line had an orange fish attached, and Jasper’s had a red fish. We cast them out over the low hanging branches, and reeled them back in. Miles was fishing for catfish, Jasper for sharks. We caught so many fish! We ate so much Pirate’s Booty!

Over behind the big tree a couple guys were cleaning up acorns. Fifteen picnic tables sat empty for now, under the live oaks that the church fathers were careful about preserving when they built this worship center in 2006. When the tree cutters prune their branches, the Texas winter sun will shine down on at noon on those picnic tables, on Sunday of course, but also on every other day of the week. And we’ll be over there for picnics on many of them. Winter in Texas allows for picnics now and then.

Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised.

I thought of the play we performed at the campus house, Margaret at Murray State and me twenty years later at the University of Illinois. What Are We Going to Do With All These Rotting Fish? Discipling as a church priority had been identified and was being defined. New Christians needed companionship, or discipleship as we called it. They knew how to carry themselves (keep those rod tips pointed up), but they really had no idea how to cast a line or reel it in.

Jesus promised Peter that he would catch men rather than fish, but many of those caught never find their way to the deep forever joy that Jesus also promised. They need help as they read the Bible, as they learn to pray. But despite best intentions, mature Christians often are reluctant to hang out with new “fish.” I know I got irritated with Miles and Jasper when they tangled their lines again and again. All I had time for was to work out those tangles. I wanted to do a little fishing myself.

The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones. No servant can serve two masters.

But as grandpas know, the untangling time is worth it. Disciples learn trust and hope and faith, patience, gentleness and self-control from those very grandpas (we often call them mentors). All of us need to teach and be taught by our own God-with-skin-on, every day of our lives.

Greet one another with a holy kiss. Generation after generation praises your works and proclaims your might. I will praise your name forever, Lord.

(Romans 16, Psalm 145, 2 Corinthians 8, Luke 16)

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