I had a conversation with my friend Michael Frost (author and missiologist) about how we can be living missionally during this COVID pandemic with some reflections on the impact of the Church.
Yesterday, in our staff Chapel, we were reflecting the Jesus Prayer. A beautiful prayer, attributed to the Desert Fathers in the 5th Century.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.
It wasn’t the first time I’ve come across this gem, but on this visit, it really resonated with me. Perhaps it was part of the meditation that came with it –
My whole desire was fixed upon one thing only — to say the Prayer of Jesus, and as soon as I went on with it I was filled with joy and relief. It was as though my lips and my tongue pronounced the words entirely of themselves without any urging from me. I spent the whole day in a state of the greatest contentment. I lived as though in another world.
– The Way of the Pilgrim
I inadvertently took on this challenge to be intentional with praying this prayer. Too help, since I look at my iPhone more than most other items throughout the day, I created a wallpaper, as a reminder. My intention is to repeat the prayer whenever I unlock my phone.
about a month ago, i started fishing.
fishing for mackerel.
i started by accident really. it was the sunday afternoon of the labour day long weekend, we went down to new river beach for the afternoon. hardly a person around because it was forecasted to be bad weather and we went down to the water for a bit. i acted as ruth’s lifeguard, which in retrospect was a bad choice, because i hate being in the water over my head. if she got into trouble, she would have been screwed – at the time though, it seemed like a good idea for me to guard while she swam in the bay of fundy. while ruth was warming up after her swim, i had a nap on the beach leaning against hilary.
it was a nice afternoon.
ed came back to pick us up and brought us down to blacks harbour, he really wanted us to watch him fish. [ed grew up in fishing communities in newfoundland.] after he caught a few, he wanted the rest of us to experience the same joy of catching a fish. it had been quite some time since i last fished – but for the record, i have fished before. it was fun, we had some laughs and i think ed regretted bringing us down there – we weren’t quite as serious.
i’ve been back at least once, sometimes twice, a week since.
the last few times, the fish haven’t really been biting. we’ve stood on the wharf for 3-4 hours each visit, just throwing the line, chatting, listening and being still. my last visit, the borrowed fishing line that i was using broke. i pretended like i knew how to fix it and put it back together. still broke. ed felt bad and wanted to leave because i couldn’t fish. i wanted to stay.
it is so peaceful and relaxing, standing on some floating wood along the coast of the ocean. fishing and watching others fish. because the mackerel season is basically over, we weren’t catching much. we tried a few different places. it gave me lots of time to think and wonder. we started catching some harbour pollock, which aren’t very good (i’m told). it was fun catching them, we were catching 3-5 at a time but releasing them.
it got me to thinking that as followers of Jesus, we are called to be persistent – castling the line, being patient and waiting. when Jesus called simon, james and john, he met them after a long night of fishing and told them to go back out. they were reluctant but went back out and fished again. caught a boat load. ed and i began talking about how hilarious our situation was and soon realized that its similar in ministry, you can throw the line – offer a program, meal, event, etc… and catch some results. but it requires patience to catch what you’re hoping for – growth, a willing heart.
i want to go back fishing – i’m not sure by the water or on the streets.