Those Jersey residents who have lived here for some time will have mixed feelings about the sea. Songs like “I do like to be beside the sea side” give way to “Hear us when we cry to Thee - for those in peril on the sea.”
In a way the two songs came together on 28 May 1946 when at Corbiere a lighthouse keeper, Peter Larbalestier, was drowned while trying to rescue a holidaymaker who had been cut off there by the rising sea.
They also came together many times over during the remarkable lifetime of Constance Brown, a St Brelade’s Bay resident who between the years 1926 and 1958 rescued or helped to rescue at least 30 people from the sea in that beautiful bay. Many more have been fished from the sea around us since then.
The sea is cruel and unforgiving. The sea conceals all kinds of evil things. It seems to have a life of its own – a turmoil life that kills life. Having swallowed life it renders up the lifeless remains. But that swallowing of life does not satisfy the sea’s appetite for more life. Nor does the sea disgorge the evils thrown into it but instead retains all so as to fuel its restless merciless turmoil.
Is the sea a picture of humanity in action? We can certainly sing, “I do like to be beside the ....... [happy contented human beings]”. But we are also moved to cry from deep within, “Hear us when we cry to Thee, for those .... [human beings suffering terribly through involvement in so much human evil doing].”
Take a look now at the words in bold above. Jesus choose to reside by the Sea of Galilee for the closing three years of his life because it was indeed by the sea – where people lived and worked and lost their lives.
In fact Matthew, Jesus’ biographer, reports a great deal of activity of Jesus on this Sea or near this Sea. And in many instances potential loss of life is included and the many forces of evil are present.
What then of Jesus’ call to two sets of two fishermen brothers – four men in all? What of his entreaty to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”?
The sea – the cruel sea, the swallowing, concealing sea – is full of fish. The fish don’t want to leave the sea – they can’t survive outside the sea – that’s their environment for good or ill...... Fishermen can’t influence the fish. All they can do is cast their nets.
Jesus wanted the two sets of two brothers to follow him and he would then make them fishers of men. Re-made by him, they would fish human beings out of the tumultuous sea.....
Yes, he would re-make the four men.....
Yes, he would arrange for the fish to be caught..... As with the four men, he would call them.
Yes, he would deliver the fish from the sea.....
But, as Matthew the biographer repeatedly stated in the words in bold above, the four fishermen, well used to all the work and toil and patience and disappointment involved, would willingly leave behind their nets, their boat and their father so as to follow Jesus and so as to be made into what he wanted them to be – fishers of men.
In future they would rescue men and women from the sea around them. Jesus came to earth to dwell by the sea for the same reason.