I asked someone to bring in a fishing pole for the children's message last Sunday. I wasn't sure exactly what I was going to do with it. I know that Jesus didn't fish with a fishing pole. But it seemed like a good idea at the time so I took the fishing pole with me when I sat down with the children.
I asked them if they had ever gone fishing. A few of them were enthusiastic that they had. I asked them if they knew what would be good to put at the end of a fishing pole if they wanted to catch fish.
"Worms!" shouted one little boy.
I said that Jesus told that his disciples that instead of catching fish, they were going to be catching people! And what would you use at the end of a fishing pole if you wanted to catch people?
Okay, it was a silly question. And I got some silly answers.
But in Jesus time, people didn't fish with fishing poles. They used nets to catch fish. And the disciples would use a kind of net to catch people.
It was the net of God's love.
I got some of the children to make a circle, so that they could be like a net. Then we caught a few of the other children in the net. The children in the middle of the circle didn't know how they felt about being inside the net, though. "How do we get out of here?" they said.
They became a part of the circle. Pretty soon all of the children were a part of the circle, and there was no one left in the middle. I said to the congregation, who wants to be inside of God's love?
A few people jumped up, and they got inside the circle.
Pretty soon, though, they were holding hands, and a few more people from the congregation were "caught."
And after they were caught, they became a part of the circle, catching others.
Later on, I preached a "real" sermon, but it wasn't until later in the afternoon that I realized that the circle of God's love was a pretty good image of what it means to be a disciple. You get caught by God's love, but a little while later you are a part of the circle who shows tells other people about God's love. You are never meant to just be inside. You are always meant to be a part of the circle.
And we don't do any of this work alone.
Maybe I should have just kept adding people to the circle and forgotten about the "real" sermon that day.
Sometimes you don't need words. Sometimes you just need actions. Sometimes you just need to keep expanding the circle.