Moi Questions


A school of moi.

Today I’m going to tell you a fish story.

I mean, literally. I’m going to tell you a story about a fish.

This fish was a moi, which are well known here in Hawai’i for being a fish that only the ali’i, the royalty, the most powerful people in the islands could eat in the ancient days. That’s not how the moi think of themselves, though. Who really think of themselves in terms of who is going to eat them?

There was one young moi who was always asking questions. I mean, always. He’d ask one question, and get an answer, and then he’d ask another.

“What’s that bright light up above the surface of the water?”

“Why are the corals different colors?”

“What’s that coming toward us, with all the holes? Should I avoid it?”

(Well, yes. It was a fishing net.)

“What’s that shiny thing on the end of the grass-like thing? Should I eat it?”

(It’s probably best not to eat the fishhook.)

Probably the most common question, though, was one he asked over and over and over:

“Is that good to eat?”

“Is that good to eat?”

“Is that good to eat?”

Let’s face it, that’s an important question when you’re a moi.

With all his questions came something else: He got to know the answers. Other moi started to ask him questions, because they thought he’d probably asked it already and knew the answer. Much of the time, he did.

When he didn’t, you know he’d turn around and ask that question of some other fish.

He always had moi and moi questions.

A decided groan greeted that last remark.

Moi swim in great schools, and if you’ve ever seen a school of fish, you realize that when the school turns, then a new leader emerges. The one who had been at the front is now at the side, and someone at the side is the new leader of the school.

All the other moi learned to feel very good about having this curious moi as their leader. When he was in front, they didn’t swim into fishing nets. When he was in front, he didn’t have them chase after fishhooks.

So his questions made him a valued leader among the moi.

That’s true of you, too. If you ask questions, if you seek after what you don’t know, if you keep learning, well, like our curious moi, you can be a success in school.

More groans.

Seriously. It will help you in school. But it will also help you make a better life. Ask questions, even when your parents, or your teachers, or even I start to look like you’ve asked a lot of them. It’s OK.

Because you’ll be learning, and thriving, and growing.

Inviting Questions


What would you ask of us, O Jesus, by
Our well of Jacob? How would you secure
Our trust, invite our glance to catch your eye,
Persuade us of your power by flesh obscure?

We keep the treasures of our souls at depths
Much like a well’s, and hide them even from
Ourselves. The treasures! Though our halting steps
You know from rising dawn to setting sun.

What may we ask of you, O Jesus, by
Our well of Jacob? What great secrets tease
From you, who’d see our downcast spirits fly
From mountain to the ever-rolling seas.

With questions let us comprehend your grace
That others may in you find, too, their place.

This poem was written for a sermon of the same title to be preached on March 19, 2017. As it happens, it didn’t make it into the sermon after all.

The image is “Christ and the Samaritan Woman” by Duccio di Buoninsegna, painted ca. 1311.