|It may seem odd to have a message about Christmas Eve, on the third Sunday of Easter, but something happened at Lord of All Lutheran Church on December 24, 1994, that will always be remembered as a Miraculous Catch!
Rev. Dawn Nelson
Lord of All Lutheran Church,
For the past ten months, we had seen an average weekly attendance of about 20-25 people, in our little double-wide trailer. That was an encouraging increase, but it was Christmas, and as a new pastor, facing my first Christmas in this parish, I really hoped we could do something special, something miraculous.
As council we had talked about how Christmas Eve had always been: one candlelight service usually filled to the brim with 40-60 people. "Well," I suggested, "maybe because our attendance has been up, we should consider having two services because 70-80 people would more than fill our little worship space. Amidst some doubt being voiced we decided to go ahead, and advertise two services: one a family service and the other a reflective service.
Christmas Eve dawned crisp, clear, and cold. And I wondered whether we needed two services. The first was scheduled for 6:30. By 6:15 we were comfortably filling. At 6:25 there was a miraculous catch. And by the time we got everyone in at 6:35 there were 170 people crammed into our tiny space. All had candles. The organist was playing. The children were all seated at the front of the church on the floor with me tip-toeing around them. Who would have thought???
God would have thought! God had inspired our work and our movement into the community in so many ways that by Christmas the community had been watching, and wondering, and waiting for the chance to come inside our church. And Christmas Eve, it was like a miraculous catch. They came and the church was filled.
- Sometimes it feels as if we aren't getting anywhere, but it is important that we remain faithful and continue our efforts to evangelize.
- Sometimes we have to be willing to try something new, or try again, a bit differently. We need to throw our nets on the other side of the boat; to try something like a family service.
- There will always be some doubt about what we CAN do. But that is no reason not to try, not to extend hands of welcome, of possibility.
- Ultimately, it is Christ who fills our nets. We are the bait, the ones that people are seeing but, it is Christ who moves their hearts and spirits to come into his Church.
Holy Lord of All, you call your people to be fishermen in your name. Help us to go out into the world around us with willing hearts, to try new things, to meet new people, to share your love in ways that will touch hearts and spirits as ours have been touched. Bless our efforts and fill our nets to overflowing. We pray in Christ's name. Amen.