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The Fish are Jumpin' and the Nets Need to Be Ready!

By Rev. Cindy Marino

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God has been working since creation to convince humanity that a life that bows to God’s kingship is a life of abundance, grace, innovation and change--where transformed people live in radically new relationships with one another. Jesus was sent to proclaim the reality of this new community. Under His Lord-ship as the Son of God, it is quite unlike any the world had ever seen.  

The author of the Gospel of Luke witnesses to us of this upside kingdom that counters the ways of the culture; a kingdom where the last shall be first, the weak become strong, the poor become rich, the blind see and the child leads. Luke shows us God’s unlimited capacity in the story of Jesus sending Simon Peter back out to sea after a night of fishing failed to produce any fish. Peter and his partners return with such an abundance the nets tear and the boat begins to sink! Luke 5:1-11 

We are currently in a budget dilemma, but there is good news in all that God is doing through the amazing Grace staff and laity. We see it in the numbers of children participating, people being visited, people serving, people growing deeper in faith. It may take a bit for changes to impact the church as a whole, but if we pay attention to the places where God is working, the work of God will spread.
 
It doesn’t take much for a short-fall to impact ministries when the budget margins are thin and the bulk of the budget is for staff and building expenses. In this month’s “Grace Notes” you’ll see an insert from our Church Council describing the financial challenge we face. Grace must commit to paying staff salaries, electric bills, maintenance of the grounds, our share of the ministry of the global UMC and our support of worthy local organizations. Our financial stewards would feel a whole lot better knowing in advance that you plan to share in those commitments. 

Some of you have expressed concern that in the midst of a budget dilemma we are talking about remodeling the building. That seems almost like having Jesus ask us to go back out in the deep water to catch more fish! Like Simon Peter we don’t see the point, until we remember Who is asking. The fact remains that the dollars available for the building are restricted and cannot be used for the operating budget. One fund cannot cover the other. But if used for the building, the funds available will contribute to Grace’s mission! The building is our boat; it’s the biggest investment the church has. And Jesus is asking us to take it out to deeper waters, to make younger families feel like they have a home here. 

I keep assuring myself and the staff and the lay leadership at Grace that God will come through in the people of Grace. You’ve done so for over 125 years. The fruit their works are producing will not go unnoticed. The fish are jumping and the nets are ready. God’s capacity is without limits.

We all are called by virtue of our baptism to participate in God’s mission to the world in Jesus Christ. We are called to reorient our priorities to align with God’s priorities, to use the gifts God gives us to love and serve others. Jesus’ word to Simon Peter is also a word to us: “Do not be afraid.” Jesus’ mission is “catching” us when we fall and catching others through us.