Epiphany 3: Blessing the Nets

Casting © Jan L. Richardson

Readings for Epiphany 3: Jonah 3.1-5, 10; Psalm 62.5-12; 1 Corinthians 7.29-31; Mark 1.14-20

I marvel at how quickly they leave their nets, these fisherfolk who meet Jesus as they labor by the Sea of Galilee. What do Simon and Andrew hear in Jesus’ voice as he calls; what do James and John see as Christ beckons them to cast aside all they have known?

Perhaps, listening to Jesus, they remember the story of Jonah. Perhaps they think of the first time God called that reluctant prophet, and what happens when we run in the opposite direction of God’s call; how we are likely to wind up in a place that is dark and dank and lonely. A place that presses clarity upon us and inspires us to respond differently—as Jonah does—when the invitation comes again.

Get up, go
God says to Jonah.
So Jonah set out
and went.

Perhaps, encountering this man who immediately compels them, Simon and Andrew and James and John already know in their bones what Paul will later write about in his first letter to the Corinthians: how following Christ will mean letting go of what they have relied upon, will mean living without what they have become attached to.

And those who buy
as though they had no possessions,
Paul says to the church at Corinth;
and those who deal with the world
as though they had no dealings with it.

In the days, weeks, years to come, these four—and the eight soon to join them—will live into that initial burst of letting go. They will learn, and learn again, what it takes to follow Christ: how they will have to continually practice the art of leaving. And in their leaving, in their letting go, they will find their sustenance and their true home.

God alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken
sings the psalmist to the Holy One.
On God rests my deliverance and my honor;
my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.

Follow me
Jesus says to Simon—
whom he will name Peter,
the Rock,
infused with God’s own being.

Follow me
he says to Andrew,
to James and to John.

Follow me
Jesus says to us.

What will we say in return?

Blessing the Nets

You could cast it
in your sleep,
its familiar arc
embedded in your
muscle memory
after months
a lifetime
of gathering in
what you thought
would sustain you

You would not
have imagined
it would be so easy
to cast aside,
would never have believed
the immediacy
with which your hands
could release their
familiar grip,
could let it go,
could let it simply continue
its arcing path
away from you.

But when the call came
you did not hesitate,
did not pause,
did not delay
to follow,

as if your body
had suddenly remembered
the final curve
of the arc,

as if the release
begun in your hands
now passed through you
and you let go
of everything

to cast yourself
with abandon
upon the waiting

P.S. For a previous reflection on Mark 1.14-20, click the image or title below:

Epiphany 3: Hooked

For a reflection on Matthew’s account of this story, see:

Epiphany 3: Catch of the Day

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4 Responses to “Epiphany 3: Blessing the Nets”

  1. Maureen Says:

    Beautiful poem, Jan.

  2. Leslie Says:

    As a lay person being called to serve, I face the tension of a past secular career with that of serving on our church staff in Missions. The challenges are often near overwhelming. Your words bring both reason of the tension and comfort in it as well. I am blessed, encouraged and empowered to continue casting for the Kingdom! Thank you!

  3. Susan Sparta Says:

    Love for those in “waiting world” complels me to step into the command of Mark’s “immediately.” Releasing the nets… now. :)

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