Catching People

 

Finally, I enter the blogosphere!  I convinced myself the other day that if Dorothy Day were writing now, she might have blogged rather than printed.  Let’s face it: it’s cheaper.

So, my plan is to keep a record of my search for God in the margins of society.  Sometimes (like tonight) I’ll be reflecting on our Thursday night Bible study at St. James Mission.  For you sermon writers out there, our Bible study is based on the texts in Revised Common Lectionary that will appear on the following Sunday.

When I’m not doing that, I’ll be trying to make sense of the time I spend on the streets as a Community Chaplain.  Confidentiality will be maintained.

If anyone cares to read or comment, that would be awesome.  If anyone lives locally (Utica, NY) and wants to show up at our Bible study, that would be even more awesome.  We meet Thursdays, 6pm, at First Presbyterian Church (1605 Genesee Street).

At tonight’s Bible study, we read Luke 5:1-11. Click here to read the passage.

People were drawn to the enigmatic image of “catching people” that Jesus presents to Simon at the end of the passage.

One person commented on the fact that the fishermen in this story used nets instead of poles.  “The whole community of fish gets caught, not just one.”  This flies in the face of our society, in which spirituality has been privatized.  We’ve been conditioned to think of ourselves as individuals, not as communal beings.

Someone else noticed that a fish caught on a pole gets to choose whether or not to take the bait, but a fish caught in a net has no choice whatsoever.  This too is a countercultural idea in a consumerist society where choice is so valued.

Another person pointed out that a fisherman, when using a net, does not discriminate between fish.  The fisherman can’t say, “You’re too sickly.  You’re the wrong kind of fish.  You’re a tuna.”  In the same way, God doesn’t discriminate between people as they’re being “caught” in the net of Jesus.  Male or female, black or white, straight or gay, religious or irreligious, all people are embraced by the net.

God’s activity, according to this passage, is something that whole communities get “caught up in”, not something that individuals choose for themselves.  Where then can we look to find examples of God at work in the life of a community?

One man remembered the way that the gay community rallied around one another during the height of the AIDS crisis in America.

Someone else mentioned a news article about Haiti after the earthquake.  The report indicated that the streets of the city turned into one big church at night, with Catholics and Protestants worshiping together until two in the morning.

A third person told a story about a group of factory workers somewhere in Latin America.  The owners of the factory owed the workers about six million dollars in unpaid wages.  As it turned out, the factory building itself was worth about the same amount.  In lieu of pay, the workers took control of the factory and turned it into a labor cooperative.  The oppressive management had been replaced by the workers themselves in a new spirit of justice and equality.

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