Weekly worship: Sunday 10 February

The role of partnerships in the mission of God. 

Fishermen resetting nets in Gaza city

Isaiah 6: 1-8                I Corinthians 15: 1-11             Luke 5:1-11

In the context of Brexit, with looming uncertainties of future in terms of relationships with neighbouring countries, our present texts for this Sunday emphasise the role of partnerships in the mission of God.

In the call narrative of Peter in Luke 5, we see an important trait of Peter, which I think impressed Jesus to choose him to be on his team. Having worked all night and returning with no fish, Jesus takes Peter again into the deep sea for fishing.

On the word of Jesus, when they have caught a bounty of fish with nets breaking, we see Peter and his team ‘signalled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so they began to sink’ (5:7).

This quality of Peter's – signalling their partners in sharing, and helping with the bounty of fish – stand with distinction on Peter’s ‘CV’, and he was immediately called by Jesus to follow him.

We notice in this pericope the experience of nets being broken, heart being broken, and call made open. Making partnerships by transcending the boundaries is an important mark of Christian discipleship.

Peter, at that moment with a bounty of fish at his end, could have been selfish thinking he would be ‘great’ by selling that fish, or could have thought of ‘Peter first’ to take the major portion of that fish.

On the contrary, Peter has the magnanimity of signalling and sharing with other partners, who might not be those from his same family, town, faith or identity. This text is very relevant for our times today, where hatred on the ‘other’ has been increasing.

Striking coalitions and partnerships for the cause of the Kingdom of God is an important learning for us today.

In the text from Isaiah, we see his humility, where his physical self is being burnt by the live coal taken from the altar of God. The other mark of Christian discipleship is ‘denying ourselves and taking up our cross’ to follow Jesus Christ. It is said that ‘love is selflessness and self is lovelessness.’

Isaiah responded to the call of God by allowing his ‘self’ to be burnt, and go for God to places taken by God.

Paul writes to the Church at Corinth about the gospel of Jesus Christ, and mentions that he is the least of the apostles, to whom Jesus revealed himself. Primarily, Paul mentions that it is by the grace of God what he was then. The third, and an important mark of Christian discipleship, is to be found and led by the grace of God.

Call is God’s prerogative and God can call anyone at any time, which is purely on God’s terms and references.

Call is not based on our piety, or worth.

To summarise, the marks of Christian discipleship are:

  • forging partnerships,
  • burning our proud ‘self’, and
  • being found and led by God’s grace.

Prayer

O God of unity and justice,

We live in a time of divisions and hatred,

And we seek your grace to lead us in forging partnerships trespassing the hard boundaries,

Touch us with your fire to be refined in your grace.

Help us to discern your call to stand for justice and to defeat hatred.

In Jesus' name.

Amen.

Points for prayer this week

Pray for respectful dialogue, positive political discourse, and partnership in our nations and across the world.

Wednesday 13 February: give thanks and pray for the United Nations' World Radio Day, and the way in which radio can be used to build dialogue, tolerance and peace

Give thanks for the partnership between Christian Aid, Dan Church Aid and Norwegian Church Aid in Zambia through the Joint Country Programme there. Read more about this in the prayer diary

This week’s sermon pointers have been provided by Rev. Dr Raj Bharath Patta, an ordained Minister of the Andra Evangelical Lutheran Church in India. He is currently serving as an authorised Presbyter at the Stockport Methodist Circuit.