From my sermon for the Community Thanksgiving Service–
I have never lived with a cat before, but Gingersnap is pretty cute, so I went from living by myself to having a very small roommate in the manse. Now, I did grow up with a dog, so my assumption was that I would play with the cat and then she’d get tired and jump up on my lap and cuddle and it would be super cute. But apparently that’s not how cats work. The two of us argue a lot. I will say to her, “Okay, cat, let’s play. I got you toys, and a cat tree, and a laser pointer!”
So I say, “Come on, cat, aren’t I super nice to you? Do you just not appreciate anything?”
Cats are not very thankful creatures. All the great things we do for them and they just go around knocking things over!
I wonder if that’s how God feels about us, sometimes. All the grace God shows us and we just go around knocking things over. But sometimes we respond to God’s grace with faith.
“Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.’ Simon answered, ‘Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.’ When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signalled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!’ For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.’ When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.” (Luke 5:1-11)
By the incredible grace of God, we have been given far more than we can comprehend.
How do we respond to a grace so amazing?
For Peter, at first, the answer was simple. He would listen to this teacher, sure. To love God is to want to know more about God. When the man asks, sure, Peter can help. It’s not asking all that much for him to get back into the boat and let Jesus teach from it so the crowds can see Him better. Maybe then, keeping the boat steady, Peter takes a break from cleaning his nets and really listens to what Jesus is teaching to the crowds. What is Jesus saying? What is the lesson that changes Peter’s whole life? What words would it take to change our whole lives?
But then Jesus asks another favor of Peter: to take the boat out into the deep water and cast down his nets. What does he have to lose? There’s no way he’s going to catch anything, but Jesus taught a good lesson and Peter might as well be polite when faced with this fairly simple, if silly request. What’s the worst thing that can happen?
But the worst thing doesn’t happen. Instead, Peter witnesses a miracle. Jesus doesn’t ask it of them, but the men drop everything and follow Him. How could they not?
Grace isn’t always so obvious, even when it’s just as abundant.
I hope that when we find it, we can respond to God’s grace like a Peter…and not like a cat.
I hope that when we find it, we don’t fail to see it for the gift that it is, or take God’s grace for granted, or react with anger that grace isn’t what we thought it would be, or respond by knocking something over just to show that we can.
I hope that when we find it, we drop everything and follow God and shout praise and thanksgiving to the Lord with all our hearts and with all our minds and with all our souls.
Rev Leia Rose Battaglia