Contributed by Seth Moland-Kovash, All Saints Lutheran Church, Palatine, IL

Warm-up Question

Have you ever been fishing? Are you a “catch-and-release” or “keep-and-eat” fisher?

To Fish or Not to Fish

It seems that we’ve been concerned for decades about overfishing. Commercial fisheries have depleted the stocks of valuable fish for human consumption to the point that the stocks have dried up. Businesses and ways of life for people who depend on commercial fishing have dried up. That could be changing.

Steve Murawski, who was, until recently, the chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service, believes that this year will be the first time on record (since 1900) that US fishermen won’t overfish any species. Read more at

Through management and quota systems, Murawski and others believe that the US has balanced the need to fish now with the need to preserve fish supplies for future years and future generations. Obviously, only time will tell if that is true.

Discussion Questions

  • Do you think the government should regulate how much people can fish? Why or why not?
  • What do you think is the biggest danger in overfishing? Is overfishing  a greater danger than people losing jobs in fishing?

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, January 23, 2011 (Third Sunday after Epiphany)

Isaiah 9:1-4

1 Corinthians 1:10-18

Matthew 4:12-23

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings.)

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

Jesus met some commercial fishermen. Simon Peter and Andrew weren’t just hobby fishermen. They weren’t having a relaxing day out on the boat. This was their job and their livelihood.  Their families and those they loved depended on them to make a good catch, sell it at the market,  and bring the proceeds home. Jesus invited them to a different way of life.

He invited them to lay down their fishing nets and pick up their people-fishing tools. Of course, in that moment, he did not describe to them how to fish for people or tell them what would be involved. They could only learn that through being with him all through his life: in fact, all the way through his death and resurrection.

And yet, with these seemingly large holes in their knowledge… they did it! They dropped their fishing nets and left their business behind. They left everything behind and followed.

Discussion Questions

  • Why do you think Simon Peter and Andrew followed?
  • Would you have followed if Jesus had said this to you?
  • What is the best “bait” you have to fish for people as Jesus commanded us to do?

Activity Suggestion

Create an imaginary tackle box. Think of all the bait and tackle you have at your disposal to fish for people? What’s in it? What tools has God give you, personally and as a group?

Closing Prayer

Good and gracious God, we pray for your guidance as we fish for people. Give us the words and the tools we need. Most of all, give us the passion and the desire to share your good news with all those around us.  Amen.