Where we spend our money, says a lot about what we are. It's always those small things in life that catch us, call it discretionary spending. For me it was the starbucks, that small indulgence everyday on my way to work that started to add up and slowly started to outstrip my weekly offering to the church I was attending. Meanwhile I had the equipment to make coffee at home, for cheaper, and often higher quality because it was made the way I liked it. One day, after the third month of reaching payday broke, I made the hard choice to give up my starbucks everyday. Now we are talking a real hard first world problem when a hard choice is giving up Starbucks, because it is a luxury, but the hard choice was about something deeper. Giving up the starbucks was about listening to an inner nudge that said I could do more with my resources if I just tried moving beyond the comfort of being served and into a place of service. It was about making hard choices within my life, in order to follow this guy named Jesus who keeps calling us into a transformational life, with unknown coffee quality. My own salient criques on coffee notwithstanding, the Gospel of Luke has something to challenge us with today about hard choices.
For Luke, Jesus is the person, the fulfillment, the one who is announcing the reign of God in our midst, which will create some deep waves in our midst. Luke here is focused on two aspects of the nature of community- Authority and Mission- that is, who has the authority to speak on behalf of the community and where is the community headed. This is the moment when Christ calls his first disciples, four simple fishermen, to follow his authority and mission in the world- to cast out into the deep and dare to dream- when dreaming was risky. This is important because for these men- and sadly they were all men, these men- just like us, depended on the catch in those nets for their livelihood. Like them, we would be hard pressed to pay our rent in hopes, or fund our bank accounts with dreams, so we work hard in order to live a happy life. This life of hard work often leaves us with a feeling of internal death, being trapped in a job or life choices because it’s what we know- its a pattern which makes sense to us. Like the calm lake that these fishermen in our gospel set off into to catch their days income, we know what to do with those moments in our lives. Yet here comes Jesus, churning the waters all around the safety of our boat of pattern and hardwork, into water now teaming with new life- in a time when life vests were not even a thing yet.
I love that this reading comes to us in the week before our Pre-vestry and Vestry meetings, where we hear and listen for God’s presence in everything we have done and are doing. And my word, have we been busy. But what Luke challenges us with today is the question of casting our nets and if we are really ready to go out into the deep. Moving into something new and different, like the other side of the boat, after we have been working relentlessly all night seems like a waste of time. I often wonder if the writers of Luke left out the sarcastic retort of the apsotle in the back of the boat who said “dude, we already tried that, give us something we can use or go away.” And in alot of ways this “we’ve already tried that” is how parish ministry can feel, even how Vestry can feel. We gather again, to hear our reports, talk about a budget, and hope next year is going to be a better year than last. Yet today, the gospel is saying to the church to look beyond our own nets- those nets we’ve been casting all night to no avail- and look into the abundance of Gods net. A net so large, it's going to risk our boat capsizing to bring in the whole catch.
This is the joy of the gospel this morning, that God’s got a mission for us which is wider and deeper than our nets (read: minds) can ever possibly imagine. This isn't about building a corporate message, or mega church. This isn't about balancing a budget or saving a building- it's about making disciples. The church, my friends, is not a building or its budget- the church is real people, you and me, who come together to fish for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Imagine what it would look like if we took the interest off of our endowments and created grants and bursaries for university students, or invested in new ministries in our neighbourhood, university and city. Imagine what it would look like if we expanded this building, housing conference space and a coffee shop, so that this building was the centre of the new community which is being built next door. Imagine if we doubled our life groups from 7 to 14, doubled our givings from 62,000 to 124,000, tripled our sunday school from 10 to 30, and invested in the future of our parish in the grace of God's abundance all by casting a vision for what it is God is calling us here to do. The mission and vision of this parish is growth, because there is absolutely no reason why we should not be full on a Sunday morning. There is absolutely no reason that more people should not have the same chance we do to meet and be part of this incredibly beautiful community, where we eat, laugh, argue, love, and pray for the strength to go out and answer God’s call on our lives to make disciples of all nations. There is absolutely no reason, like Christ in our gospel this morning, not to expect nets so full we can barely find room to sit down in our pews anymore. Because at the end of the day, we exist for the benefit of those who are not here, and those who are not here are missing out on one heck of a party. And this party will take our willingness to trust God’s purpose when it seems unsure, vision when it feels hard, and mission when it feels too much.
God’s got a mission to to fill our nets with disciples who make disciples to transform our neighbourhood, to fill God's church with people working for His Gospel in our world. And the work of how- the listening to how we will do that work in our next year starts with vestry and goes on for the remaining 364 days until our next vestry. Gods got a mission for us, to tell the world about who we follow and invite them into community with us. God’s got a mission for you and I, to live his vision for this place, casting out into deep water to dream and transform the world by our gifts and talents in community because of who we follow. How will you respond with your life to that vision and mission?