Props: Fishing 'bottle' (illustrated below), pictures of net fishing, line fishing and Christian fish symbol. Also white board and marker.
Hello boys and girls! I thought we might talk about fishing today. Has anybody here ever been fishing and caught a fish? [Share briefly] I once caught a fish, and it was th-i-i-i-i-s long! You’re right: I just made that up!
Now there are several different ways of catching fish. You can use a net [show photo: I had a projected image]. or a line, maybe with a rod [show photo]. When I was a boy, I had a 13 foot (4 metre) long fishing rod. I still remember riding my bike with it under my arm! I want to show you another method ... . It uses a long bottle – I used to use a milk bottle – with a smallish neck, and a piece of bread inside.
I used to live in Gisborne, NZ, near the Taraheru River. This is a tidal river with yucky mudflats! In the evening when the tide was out, I would take my bottle and lay it on the mudflat by the edge of the river, and tie it to a branch so that it wouldn't float away. Then I would go home. During the night the tide would come up and cover the bottle and the bread. The tide would also bring with it lots of little herrings. Little Herbert the herring would see the bread and think, “I’d like some of that.” So he would swim inside the bottle and start eating. But then he had a problems. There wasn't enough room to turn around, and fish can’t swim backwards! ... Sometimes by morning the bottle would be jam packed full of little fish – as many as a dozen. Unfortunately they weren’t very nice to eat – too many fine bones – but they made great bait.
Now, talking of fish, you'll notice I'm wearing a little fish on my jumper. What does that mean? Yes, it is a Christian symbol. You might see it on cars sometimes. But why the fish? [Use white board] Well the Greek word for fish is ‘ichthus’ – a rather strange word! It looks even funnier in Greek – Iota, Chi, Theta, Upsilon and Sigma:
Now the early Christians realized that these letters could be used to form a secret Christian code, the letters standing in turn for (in the Greek): Jesus, Christ, God (as in Theology = God-study), Son, Saviour. So, Jesus Christ, God's Son, Saviour. In the time of the emperor Nero, it was very dangerous being a Christian. Nero liked to feed the Christians to the lions, which was good for the lions, but not for the Christians! So when two Christians met, one would casually draw a fish in the sand with his toe to check. If his companion didn’t recognize the symbol, perhaps it was safer not to talk about Jesus!
Finally I want to give you a puzzle. Read Matt 4:18 – 20. What did Jesus mean when he said he wanted Simon Peter and Andrew to be fishers of men? ... Yes, he wanted his disciples to tell others about God’s love, and to follow Jesus. And he wants us to do the same. Perhaps this week you will be a good fisher of men!