by HW in HI
based on Matthew 4:12-23
Good morning. I want to talk a little bit this morning about a lighthouse. When I was a
little kid, there was a lighthouse at Makapuu on Oahu, and one at Lanikai near
Kailua. Are there any lighthouses around here?
Well, this is a story about a lighthouse. This lighthouse is on a dangerous coast where
there are a lot of shipwrecks. This lighthouse was very simple, and had just one boat. But
the people who volunteered there were committed and kept a constant watch over the sea.
Looking for ships in distress. When a ship went down, they unselfishly went out day or
night to save the lost.
So many lives were saved by that lighthouse that it became famous. Then a lot of people
wanted to be associated with it, and give their time, talent, and money to support the
important work of the lighthouse. New boats were bought, new crews were recruited, and
they had a formal training session. As the membership in the life-saving station grew,
some of the members became unhappy that the building was so simple and that the equipment
was so old. They wanted a better place to welcome the survivors pulled from the sea. So
they replaced the emergency cots with soft beds and put in better furniture and enlarged
and decorated the place.
The lighthouse became a popular gathering place for its members. They met regularly and
when they did, you could see how they loved one another. They greeted each other, hugged
each other, and shared the events of their lives.
But something funny happened. Fewer and fewer members were now interested in going to
sea on life-saving missions; so they hired lifeboat crews to do this for them. Then a big
ship was wrecked off of the coast, and the hired crews brought into the life-saving
station boatloads of cold, wet, dirty, sick, and half-drowned people. Some were
first-class cabin passengers of the ship, and some were the deck hands. The beautiful
meeting place became a place of chaos. The plush carpets got dirty. Some of the exquisite
furniture got scratched. So the property committee immediately had a shower built outside
the house where the victims of shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside.
At the next meeting of the lighthouse members there was disagreement. Most of the
members wanted to stop the club's life-saving activities, for they were unpleasant and
expensive. Other members insisted that life-saving was their primary purpose and pointed
out that they were still called to be a lighthouse and a life-saving station. But they
were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save the lives of all those
various kinds of people who would be shipwrecked, they could begin their own life-saving
station down the coast.
And they did. As the years passed, the new lighthouse experienced the same changes that
had taken place in the old. The new lighthouse became a place to meet regularly for
fellowship, for committee meetings, and for special training sessions about their mission,
but few went out to the drowning people. The drowning people were no longer welcomed in
that new lighthouse. So another life-saving lighthouse was started further down the coast.
History continued to repeat itself.
If we were to visit this coast today, we would find a number of adequate meeting places
with ample parking and plush carpeting. Shipwrecks still happen, but most people drown.
That story was written by Thomas Wedel almost 50 years ago. Today we have modern radios
and Loran for ships to communicate. But Im guessing that story was about more than
Today we hear in the gospel that Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two
brothers, Peter and Andrew, casting a net into the sea for they were fishermen. Jesus said
to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fish for people."
They could not resist. Jesus said follow me, and they put down their nets, and follwed
him. Probably they followed out of curiousity. Perhaps they were young and impetuous.
Maybe. But I bet that there was just something about Jesus that called out to them.
Something they couldnt resist. Jesus said, You like to fish. Come fish for
people. He could have said, You like to garden, come grow some people.
Or you like to rope, come rope a few lost souls. Or even, You like to shop, Ill
teach you how to shop for souls. Because Jesus isnt really talking about
fishing or gardening or roping or shopping. And Wedel was not really writing about
lighthouses and shipwrecks.
Jesus is saying, Hey, come follow me; itll change your life. Oh, and by the
way, you have to spread the word.
Jesus didnt say to Andrew and Peter, Come follow me and maybe you can fish
for people. Its not optional. Jesus said, Come follow me and Ill
make you fish for people.
If we choose to follow Jesus, we must spread the word. When Wedel said Shipwrecks
still happen, he meant, there are a lot of people out there who need God in their
The lighthouse is us. The lighthouse is St. James. We can choose to spread the
Good News of Jesus, like the lighthouse did at first. Or we can admit that it is hard
work, dirty work, messy and costly. And ditch the whole thing. Or maybe not really ditch
it, just a little bit of it. We could keep enough of a life saving effort going to look
like a lighthouse, but not enough to get our hands dirty.
In a little bit we will start our annual meeting. Some of you will go home, because you
are not really strong enough to sit through the meeting. Thats okay. Theres
next year. But for all the rest of us, lets remember that we are Gods
lighthouse. I am asking you to come and see to it that we do Gods work. Not just to
speak your mind, but to commit your whole self. At St. James we are a great meeting
place, but we also have strong boats. Lets not take them out of the water. Lets
go ahead and put out to sea, fishing for people, even if the water is rough.