Let's go fishing
Prayers for Eastertide #1
In Church traditions the period immediately following Resurrection Sunday and lasting until Pentecost Sunday is known as Eastertide and it’s a celebration of the Risen Christ. Now if you’ve been around here for a while you know I’m not very traditional in the prayers I offer and I dip in and out of any form of practicing of the seasons of the Church. I’ve never included an Eastertide series in our Virtual Prayer Room - but that’s our overall for the next few weeks. It’s other title is “Let’s go….”
And today we’re going fishing. Sort of. The prayers on offer today are fish shaped prayers. We’ll have some other action inspired prayers over the next few weeks.
Early the next morning Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize who he was. Jesus shouted, “Friends, have you caught anything?”
“No!” they answered.
So he told them, “Let your net down on the right side of your boat, and you will catch some fish.”
They did, and the net was so full of fish that they could not drag it up into the boat.
John 21:4-6 CEV
I love this story. Here’s the disciples hard at work fishing all night with no tangible results. By morning they’re tired and hungry and fish-less. I can just imagine them sitting there frustrated with their lack of a catch. When a stranger shouts out his advice to cast their net over the other side of the boat, they’d be a bit annoyed with the shore-based individual’s offer of help from afar, but in the absence of any other ideas, they do what he says. And then there’s plenty of fish. Realisation dawns. This is a signature Jesus’ move. They now know who the stranger on the shore is and they rush to meet him, dragging their now heavy load of fish with them.
My favourite bit comes after this verse. When the disciples return to the beach where Jesus is waiting, they find him cooking fish over a charcoal fire. Breakfast was hot and ready to be eaten. Jesus didn’t need to wait for them to catch fish - he was already onto it. It seems incredibly practical to me. He invites them to add some of the fish they’ve caught to the breakfast feast and then he shares out the bread and fish with them.
I always think food tastes better outdoors and I can just imagine myself in the early morning, the sun barely up, sitting on a beach with a hunk of fresh bread topped with steaming hot barbequed fish. Yum! The smell of a charcoal fire mixes with the salt air, and that earthy smell of early morning. It’s a new day and a fresh start. I’m energised by the breakfast and the surroundings. I’m energised by hanging out with Jesus eating breakfast.
This story from the Bible reminds me that we offer our best to God and sometimes it feels like what we offer is a whole lot of nothing. We’re spinning around, working hard, and getting nowhere. Yet God meets us part way. God adds to our offering when we least expect it. It’s a signature Jesus move. Taking what’s there and turning it into more. Sometimes that ‘more’ doesn’t happen. For many in ministry the giving of ourselves feels endless. We pour and pour and pour ourselves into our projects and endeavours and our people. And it can be relentless and it can feel that there is no fruit, no net full of fish, no reward, no point.
This is why I love the second part of the story. When Jesus provides a hot fish breakfast to his disciples, he’s not providing a reward for catching lots of fish. He’s waiting with an offer of refreshment because very practically, the disciples needed a hot and nourishing meal. It’s a celebration of the Resurrection and it’s the hope that is always present with us in Jesus. It’s a reminder to take time out and replenish. To seek what Jesus offers us, not as a reward, but simply and practically because we need refreshment. It’s an invitation to sit on the beach, watch the sun rise and eat fresh fish or the equivalent in our place and in our time.
May this week’s prayers bring you refreshment as you seek to offer others refreshment.
On the journey
PS. This is a long one today. First there’s a short poll I’d love you to answer about how you use the prayers in this prayer room. This will help me frame how I write future editions of 5 Senses Virtual Prayer Room. After the prayers (they come after the paywall) there is an invitation to join me in Autumn Rambles this April with a discount code for paid subscribers.