As I anticipate the upcoming year, I can't help but think about ways to situate the next two semesters, and as I've done so, my mind continues to return to the passage from Luke's Gospel, where Jesus begins calling his disciples. Luke reports:
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 signaled 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.Advertisement
Many thoughts come to mind. How can my colleagues and I go out "into the deep"? Will I allow myself to be led away from the safety of the shore, to enter into mystery and uncertainty, especially when I'm exhausted from a night of toil?
The passage speaks to the displacement that an encounter with the Spirit often causes. Once initiated into God's project, we are often sent out, sent on the road. To borrow from the second book of the Bible, we are engaged in an exodus. In what ways will I be called to depart?
Will I look for Jesus "in the boat"? I don't have a boat, but I have a classroom and an office. Am I open to seeing Jesus in those (often) messy spaces?
This passage also reminds me that in the pursuit of saying "yes," I am not alone. The fiserhmen in Luke caught so many fish they had to signal the support of their colleagues. Our work in education, like all Christian ministries, is a team effort. We depend on our colleagues, but also our students, to help us struggle with our nets and take hold of abundance.