St. Paul’s is excited to finally entire the world of blogging!  Pastor Phil will be sharing his sermons here as a resource for you, feel free to share with your friends and family.  We look forward to productive and respectful conversations in the comments as we continue on this faith journey together!

Rescued from the Crab Trap

The Gospel for May 8, 2022:  John 10:22-30

22At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, 23and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. 24So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” 25Jesus answered, “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; 26but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. 27My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. 29What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. 30The Father and I are one.”
Rescued from the Crab Trap written by Pastor Phil Beck

Grace be unto you and peace from God the Father Almighty and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen

Some time ago there was a story in the San Francisco Chronicle about a female humpback whale that had become entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines. She was weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay afloat. She had hundreds of yards of line rope wrapped around her body, her tail, her torso, and a line tugging in her mouth.  Thankfully, a fisherman spotted her just east of the Farralone Islands (outside the Golden Gate) and radioed an environmental group for help. Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined she was in such bad condition the only way to save her was to dive in and untangle her, a very dangerous proposition.


One slap of the enormous whale’s tail could kill a rescuer. Still, the brave rescuers worked for hours cutting her free. One guy who was cutting the rope out of her mouth says her eye was following him the whole time. Eventually, they were able to free her.  As soon as she became free, the divers say she began to swim in what seemed like joyous circles. She then came back to each and every diver, one at a time, and nudged them, pushed them gently around-she thanked them. Some said it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives.


Today’s Gospel lesson has a lot to do with being wrapped up and bound, a place where you might find it difficult to escape.  Jesus is again questioned about the timing of when he will reveal Himself as the Messiah.  These are not His followers who are asking but those who have not accepted God and have certainly not accepted Jesus as the one who was sent into the world in human form.  They are bound up in their little world, are afraid of the perils of the world, they are lost and cannot find their way.  They remain mired in their inability to see all that God can do for them in their lives if only they had faith.  Jesus replies to the questioners by telling them the truth about His followers.  His followers know who He is, they hear his voice, and they follow Him.
Hear the rest of the story here:


Don’t Give Up!

The Gospel for May 1, 2022

21 After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yardsa] off.

When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

Jesus and Peter

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Written by Pastor Phil Beck
Grace be unto you and Peace from God the Father Almighty and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Last week I spoke a little bit about doubt and how that affected us in ministering to others and our participation in the Lord’s Supper.  In today’s Gospel we have three of the biggest doubters together again by the sea trying to figure out their next move.  First, there is Peter who denied Christ during the Passion, second there is Thomas who doubted Christ had appeared to the rest of the group, and third there is Nathaniel who doubted that anything good could come from Nazareth.  Peter who denies Christ is on the boat, Thomas and Nathaniel who doubted are on the boat.    Peter says let’s get back to doing what we were used to doing and familiar with to put our lives back together only to have that disrupted by Jesus.  One of the fallacies we hold to is that we can put things back together and make things right, yet when we lose someone we can’t always figure out how to put the pieces back together.  We often hold on to things that were comfortable to us in the past and don’t move forward.

This passage comes after Jesus has appeared twice to the disciples, thus affirming his risen presence in their lives.  Yet these fishermen are not quite sure how to move forward without someone there holding their hand because they are fearful for what their journey forward looks like.  So what do they do, they do like most of us when we are unsure of a path forward, they do what they used to do and went fishing.  The disciples went back to what was comfortable to them and the thing they believed would get them through the devastation of losing their teacher. 
Continue on this journey with Pastor Phil and the three doubters with the full sermon here on YouTube.