I was preaching by the seaside
And the crowd was pressing round me,
Word had spread about the healings
And a multitude had found me.
These limping folk and anxious folk,
The lost, the broken hearted –
Brought a dawning recognition of
The scale of what I’d started.
I was trying to explain to them
That love could make things better,
But they kept on getting closer
And my feet were getting wetter,
I was standing in the shallows
But confronted by the breadth
Of this tide of human sorrow,
I was way out of my depth.
Then a fisherman named Peter
Left the nets that he was mending
And informed me that his vessel
Was available for lending.
(I had met this guy before
Because the mother of his wife
Had been really rather poorly
And I’d sort of saved her life.)
His boat became my pulpit
And when I’d finished speaking,
The multitude dispersed
And as the vessel wasn’t leaking
I suggested that we launch out
On a twilight fishing trip
So I grabbed the net he’d mended
And got back into the ship.
But Peter was reluctant
As they’d fished the night before
And their nets had all been empty
When they brought them to the shore.
But I looked him in the eye
And he gave a sort of smirk,
And he said to his companions,
“Come on guys, let’s get to work.”
Then he hoisted up the sail
And we headed out to sea
While his fellow fishers, James and John
Sat laughing on the quay.
But when we started fishing
It took less than half a minute
Till the net was almost tearing
There was such a catch within it.
We called out for assistance
And James and John came rowing
And when we’d emptied out the net
Both ships were overflowing.
The men were all astonished
At the volume of the catch
And Peter cried, “Compared to you,
I’m just a hopeless wretch!”
It was all a bit dramatic
And the boats were almost sinking,
But when we got the fish to shore
Pete told me he’d been thinking
And he’d come up with a cunning plan
To help me with my preaching,
By selling cut-price fish to all
The people I was reaching.
“You tell us where to cast our nets
The way you did this evening,
We give out fish, you give the word,
We’ll have them all believing!
The scheme should work out perfectly
It’s all that you could wish.
Your fame will spread throughout the land:
The Man Who Catches Fish!”
But I was staring at the nets
And new ideas were forming,
I was thinking how the crowd had been
Too much for me that morning.
There I was, a single fishing line
Confronted by a shoal
Of poor and needy people –
It was bound to take its toll
And pretty soon that kind of strain
Would bring me to my knees;
What I needed was a network
Of fine people such as these.
So, hoping Peter, James and John
Might like a change of roles,
I said, “Why don’t you follow me,
And help me fish for souls?”
The pitch was met with silence
As they looked at one another,
The three of them, (plus Andrew
Who I learned was Peter’s brother.)
So I said, “Look, if you change your minds
You know where you can find me.”
But as I left I heard their footsteps
Falling in behind me.
So that is how it started,
With a net of bream and perch
And became the twelve apostles
And a network called the Church.