Contemporary Scripture Reflections for Spiritual Seekers
Dr. Elizabeth-Anne Stewart, BCC, PCC
May 1st, 2022
Pray that
sanity will prevail and that all those suffering on account of the terrible conflict in Ukraine will find the comfort and resources they need.  

Holy! Holy ! Holy!
Pilgrims at Heart
c. EAS, 1993

Holy! Holy! Holy!
Chaos has fled
like a dragon
from the deep,
and the world turns,
turns in the hand of God,
caressed by Divine Breath,
cradled by Divine Love,
created within and without,
turning, always turning
on the axis of grace.

Holy! Holy! Holy!
Terror takes flight
like a shadow from the deep,
and the world burns,
burns in the heart of God,
aflame with mystery,
ablaze with energy,
consecrated within, without, burning, always burning
on the altar of Love.

Holy! Holy! Holy!
Darkness trembles,
flees from the invading Host,
and the world shines,
shines in Holy Christ-Light,
blessed by the Morning Star,
sanctified by fire,
resplendent within and without,
shining, always shining
in the fullness of God.

Holy! Holy! Holy!
All the cosmos gives glory.
Holy! Holy! Holy!


  • What is the "more" to which you are being invited right now?

  • What must you leave behind to respond to this call?

  • What fears or attachments hold you back from saying "Yes"?

  • What might you regret if you cling to your familiar world and turn down the opportunity that calls you?


So many biblical themes and motifs resound in Angela L. Swain's Mama Knew: From Behind the Eyes of a Matriarch --trust in God, God's fulfilment of promises, an unlikely lineage, a miraculous conception, the dedication of a holy child... Like Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah and Elizabeth, "Mama" is initially unable to conceive. Like Tamar --the widowed daughter-in-law of Judah-- she plays the Trickster to secure a father for her child; and like both Hannah and the unnamed mother of Samson, she dedicates this holy child to God's purpose. Mama is driven by the conviction that a well-parented daughter can do more for the world than the men in her life who tried to keep her small. Even before she conceives, she already loves this daughter and knows she will be born with the Spirit's anointing. No matter the setbacks, heartaches, disappointments and difficulties, she defines her purpose as holy mothering, knowing that her child is destined for greatness-- the greatness that comes from believing one is infinitely loved and lovable and that one has a place in God's plan. The narrative is poignant and soul-stirring, contemporary yet ancient in its wisdom. Scripturally grounded, it offers the reader a walk in faith, a journey into incredible strength and determination, generosity and wisdom. Dr. Swain tells the story with grace, revealing the many ways that Mama is a "Shepherd Leader." This naming serves as a prelude to an in-depth exploration of Shepherd Leadership in general and to the qualities that leaders need to cultivate. Whether you are in need of a little inspiration or a new leadership skillset, Mama Knew is guaranteed to enrich your journey.

Greetings, SBT Readers!

I am focusing on fish today-- not in the sense of dietary benefits but as a symbol of abundance, mission and purpose. When we "cast our nets" metaphorically, we expect results. Having invested time, labor and resources, we assume that our nets will haul in something of consequence, that we will be rewarded for our efforts; sadly, this is not always the case. Despite all our efforts, we sometimes fail to "net" in that job, promotion, raise,
award, recognition or anything else on which we have set our hearts. Instead, we experience letdown, failure, disappointment, depression and, yes, even despair. What more could we have done?

To cast one's fishing net and find nothing is indeed a bitter experience, but it is always an invitation for self-reflection and learning. If there are "no fish," then are we "fishing" in the wrong place? If we fail to hook even a single minnow, then are we settling for shallow waters? If we cast our nets on one side of the boat and catch nothing, are we willing to try the other side of the boat -- the "right side" as Jesus instructs his disciples in today's Gospel? Sometimes, the difference between nothing and a big haul is a shift in mind-set. If we have a habit of fishing close to shore in familiar waters, do we dare venture out into the deep? If we habitually throw our nets over the left side of the boat, are we ready to try the right side, just in case some shoal of mackerel is playing hide and seek? Or if we have ceased to believe that there are any fish at all, are we open to visualizing the amazing catch that is just waiting for us if we only looked a bit harder?

And then -- one more question-- if no kamikaze fish leap to the surface and flop into our boats, then are we seeking the right kind of fish? Could it be that we are spending ourselves on fish of no worth when a more valuable catch is awaiting us? In Luke 5, Jesus tells Simon Peter that it is not fish he should be fishing for but people -- what would he say to us?

Eastertide Blessings!


Simon Peter said, “I am going fishing.”
The disciples replied, “We will come with you.”
So they went out and got into the boat, but all that night they caught nothing. When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore, but the disciples did not recognize him. Jesus called out to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”
They answered, “No.”
So he said, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will catch something.”
So they cast the net, and were unable to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore, dragging the net with the fish. When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish and bread on it. Jesus said, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.” Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many fish, the net was not torn. Jn 21:1-19

Anyone who is familiar with St. Luke's version of The Call of Simon the Fisherman (AKA St. Peter) will notice similarities between today's post-Resurrection Gospel account of the miraculous catch and Lk 5:1-11. In both narratives, Simon and his companions go fishing but catch nothing all night; and in both narratives, Jesus instructs the disciples to cast their nets once more. Predictably, they haul in abundance -- so many fish that their nets are filled to tearing point. The sight of such plenty in waters that only minutes before were empty leads to an epiphany moment-- "It is the Lord!" (Jn 21:7) -- and to a proclamation of faith, "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!" (Lk 5:8). In the Lucan account, Jesus prophesizes that Simon will now be catching "men" not fish, while the Johannine text is followed by Jesus' instruction "Tend my sheep" (Jn 21:16). The abundant catch, then, is the hook by which Jesus catches his disciples. Fear and trembling startle them out of the familiar, and, awe-struck, they are now ready to leave everything behind to follow Jesus.

For simple fishermen at the time of Jesus, a net-breaking haul was the equivalent of winning the lottery. It represented a moment of triumph, a victory that would have earned them the praise of the village. Not only would there have been food on the table for weeks to come, but the sale of surplus fish would have provided for their families in lean times. Such a haul was the stuff of dreams, material for "fishing yarns" that could be passed down from generation to generation-- and, yet, these fishermen chose to walk away, leaving behind boats, nets, fish and families. In short, they left behind their very identities on the sea shore...

In our own lives, we may experience a similar call. Having reached the pinnacle of our careers or having reached a place of financial stability for the very first time, we may hear the words, "Follow me." At precisely the moment when we have accomplished our goals, experienced public recognition or left setbacks and obstacles behind us, we may hear that Voice, summoning us in the night, disturbing our plans and inviting us to "something more." "What more?" we might ask. For Simon Peter and his companions, the "something more" was the opportunity to walk in the presence of the Holy One and to transform the world with their witness. Nothing they could have imagined for themselves could possibly have matched this incredible sense of mission and purpose, their connection to Ultimate Reality.
And what is the "more" to which we are being invited this Easter season?

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