Two Pastors Fishing in a Boat

Two Pastors Fishing in a Boat

I thought I would tell a warm boat story in the middle of winter for you. I know the title sounds like the standard beginning of a joke, but it is an actual factual happening.

Two pastors were out on a lake near Brainerd and they had been fishing and talking about family and work. One pastor shared his frustration with a confirmation class, not the subject matter, rather the students’ inability to learn:

“No matter how I explain it, they just cannot understand what it means to receive grace. They nod their heads and even repeat my words, but when I ask them later how we can be made right with God they respond with ‘I don’t know. I’m a pretty good person.’ I so much want them to learn of God’s forgiveness and a life lived in grace. I swear that if they cannot write down for me what grace is I think I won’t confirm them.” The frustrated pastor said.

“Wow,” the second pastor responded while beginning to laugh with some vigor. “That sounds like an example of the exact opposite of grace. Maybe you could write down what you just said and tell your students to write down the exact opposite. The opposite being something like:  ‘Even if you write an imperfect statement about grace, I will still confirm you!’”

“You may be right,” pastor 1 said. “But what can bring these young people into understanding the peace that comes with living for Jesus in a life of grace?”

“Maybe,” Pastor 1 continued, “we could ask the students to take the test home, work diligently at understanding the teachings of the Church and then ask them to meet with us to discuss the questions. Where they answer correctly, we thank them for their work and where they answer incorrectly we hand them a corrected rendering written out by us, have them read it, and then offer them the opportunity to stick with their original answer or paste our words over their words  on their paper and hand the test back to us. A corrected version of an answer becomes their answer.”

“Now that sounds a bit more graceful,” the second pastor smiled while replying.

Well, I’ve always liked this story told to me by a friend, Pastor Tom, years ago. I do like a good fishing story and fishing sounds good this time of year. Warm days are ahead. And it is good to hear a story of grace this time of year. Maybe we aren’t quite where we want to be in our walk with God. Maybe resolutions and promises to act better, to pray more sincerely, and so forth in 2016 have already slackened. A good reminder that God forgives is welcome! And that grace can carry our load today and help us walk in the Holy Spirit’s presence, that’s good too. Warm, grace-filled days are ahead.

And now may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.  2 Corinthians 13:14

Bruce Hillyer, Associate Pastor for Caring Community
and Kingdom Partnerships