Summary: This message celebrates what makes us Christians and the diversity of the faith.
(Read to Page 9)
Truly a classic. If you are familiar with the story, how many people have read this book? If you are familiar with the story then you know that Dr. Seuss isn’t content to entertain us with stories of Whimsical fish. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish Blue Fish was first published in 1960 and is one in the series of “Beginner Books” along with other classics such as The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham and Hop on Pop. And before Seuss finishes he introduces us to a variety of strange and wonderful animals like the Seven Hump Wump and the Zed with one hair on it’s head.
For those who aren’t familiar with Dr. Seuss his actually name was Theodor Geisel, Seuss was actually his middle name and in German it is rhymes with Choice.
Theodor Geisel was born in 1905 and died in 1991, he was married twice but never had children of his own, he has been quoted as saying, “You have 'em; I'll entertain 'em.”
For those who are curious Seuss began drawing cartoons for magazines in the 1920’s and 30’s wrote over 60 books in a career that spanned more than 55 years, the first one was published in 1937 and the last one was published in 1998, seven years after his death.
During the Second World War he worked for the US army producing animated films to be used by the defence department.
So, back to the book. (Read last three pages of the book)
One Fish Two Fish is a celebration of those things that are the same but different. Did you catch that? One Fish Two Fish is a celebration of those things that are the same but different.
If there is one question that I am asked as a pastor more than any other it would be . . . “Why are there so many different denominations?” Or sometimes it is simply phrased “Why are there so many different churches?” And usually I surprise the person with my profound and theologically deep response which is: “What is your favourite fast food?” Once they get over their initial surprise at the intellectual depth of my question they will usually respond by telling me they like burgers or pizza or fried chicken. To which I probe deeper, McDonalds, Burger King, Harvey’s, Pizza Hut, Greco or KFC. And then I tell them my preference and why it’s my preference. There is a theological phrase which is sometimes used to describe this phenomena and it is “Birds of a feather flock together.”
That’s why you don’t see cowboy hats in a hip hop club or dew rags in a Jazz bar.
And while we should celebrate the diversity of the Christian experience that isn’t normally the way it is, it sometimes seems that in order to justify what we do we need to demonize what others do.
And so if they don’t sing like we do, if they don’t preach like we do, if their service times are longer or shorter than ours then they must be wrong. And not just a little wrong but a lot wrong. And that thinking has divided families and more than that it has divided the Christian family.
There is the old joke about the guy who gets to heaven and as Saint Peter is giving him the tour they pass a section with a high wall and when the guy starts to ask what it is Saint Peter says “shhh, it’s the Wesleyans and they think they are here by themselves.” And you can substitute Wesleyans for Baptist, Pentecostals, Catholics and others.
It’s almost like through the years we have either skipped scriptures like Ephesians 4:3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. Or the prayer of Jesus in John 17:23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. Or perhaps Ephesians 4:13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
Or if we don’t ignore those scriptures then we think unity should mean uniformity and they are two different words.
This morning I would like us to focus on the lessons we can learn from “One fish, Two Fish, Red Fish Blue Fish.” In the scripture that was read earlier Jesus calls the fishermen, Peter and his brother Andrew and John and his brother James, to follow him, and his call to them is found in Matthew 4:19 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” If you grew up in a traditional Sunday School program you probably sang the Song “I will make you fishers of men, fishers of men, fishers of men.”