Monday, April 9, 2018

Looking Ahead to April 15, 2018 -- Easter 3, Jesus by the Lakeshore

The Scripture reading this week is John 21:1-25

The Sermon title is Gone Fishing

Early Thoughts: The world is changed, but sometimes we just want to go back to what we know best...

But once touched by Easter can we ever truly go home again?

Not if you are Peter. By now we have had multiple appearance stories in John's Gospel.  Jesus has been seen and spoken with 3 times in Chapter 20. But still the Disciples have yet to become ready to go out and share the story. They have gone back to the beginning, back to where it all started [although strictly speaking John's Gospel does not have a story of the fishers being called by the lakeshore at the beginning of the story -- unlike Matthew Mark and Luke]. And once there I get the sense they are not sure what to do next.

So Peter goes fishing. It is what he knows best. Is he trying to get back to what once was? Is he seeking comfort in the familiar? Is he trying to earn a bit of money? Is he just trying to fill time with something because otherwise life is just too difficult?  We don't know.

What we are told is that the fishing was not good. Total failure in fact. A whole night of nothing. The some stranger comes by and makes a suggestion: "try the other side". Because every fisher likes to be given helpful advice from some stranger walking by. Right?

The miraculous catch that ensues reveals who the stranger is.  "It is the Lord!"  And then Peter and Christ have this shore lunch exchange about love and service. It is often suggested that the threefold declaration of love is John's counter to Peter's threefold denial during the passion story.

What does this story tell us about Easter?

One is that once having experienced Easter we can't go back to doing things the same old way. We have to be ready to "try the other side". Because life has been changed and so we also have been changed (if we let ourselves be changed).

The other is that as followers of the Risen Christ we have to remember that love is a verb. It is not enough to love Christ, we also have to follow him, we also have to put love into practice by caring for those whom God loves.

The second point pushes us to ask how we care for the lambs and sheep as commanded by the Good Shepherd. How do we respond when there is a chemical attack (again) in Syria? How do we respond to the reality that Grande Prairie has such a high rate of overdose deaths in the midst of the opiod crisis? How do we care for our neighbours near and far?

The first point pushes us to ask if we are truly open to being transformed. Often we really want things to go back to the "good old days" rather than be introduced to the "good new days". We are reluctant to admit we need to try the other side. Where do we, as individuals, as a community of faith, as a larger community need to be open for change? Where do we need to stop doing things the way we always have done?

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