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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Third Sunday in Easter: What do you know?

Sermon 4/17

Today we have one of my favorite Easter stories…

It starts with our impulsive  friend Peter….he’s ready to go fishing again…things didn’t turn out they way he wanted, so it’s back to fishing….he’s going back to the old life as if nothing happened…

They have no luck. No fish. From the shore, Jesus yells out, “try the other side” and without recognizing him, they follow his advice. And they catch fish….lots of fish..153 LARGE ones…Despite many attempts by commentators to explain this number, to be honest, no one really knows….

The disciple  who loved Jesus calls out It’s the Lord! and impetuous Peter does this counter intuitive thing  and puts on his clothes to jump into the water…so are these fishers fishing naked?  Why does he not want Jesus to see him naked? The fact is, Jesus has seen him naked. That is, he has seen the real Peter, just as he is, over and over again.

And so the others drag the fish in…

The next is my favorite part…I call it breakfast on the beach…
Try to imagine this…it’s early morning…..sun coming up….can you smell how it smells on the beach? (I know the Sea of Galilee is fresh water, but I smell salt..) Can you smell the charcoal fire? The fish being grilled?  The smell of fresh bread? It’s almost as sensual as that other John story where Mary anoints Jesus…and the smell of the ointment fills the room..

And like Mary Magdalene hearing her name, this eating together is so familiar, they know him! It’s in the familiar….what he did most often was break bread with his friends…like we did on Palm Sunday with Pastor Jeanie and her volunteers from Sacramento and our friends from  Theatre Dzieci…he was every bit as present at that lunch as when he is when we take communion…

NOW it gets interesting…the 3 questions from Jesus to Peter…why 3? Well, one traditional answer, to make up for his 3 denials…BUT….in Greek (and I’m not one who believes you have to know Greek to fully understand the Bible…with disciplined study and the Holy Spirit, you’ll get what you need to…)  Jesus uses agape and Peter answers with fileo. Jesus is trying to get Peter to up his game ...from friendship to unconditional love...and when Peter doesn’t give in, Jesus finally comes back with fileo and Peter answers with fileo...He meets Peter where he is ….friendship not a bad place to begin…and the instruction? Feed my sheep..

Them there’s this business about the difference between being young and old…right now, in my life,  I’m struck by the similarities between infancy and old age…that dependency.. as my mom works to recover from her stroke.. and my new grandson. Roko…both in need of others to help then with the most basic needs….

And Jesus ends with Follow me…

What’s at stake here is knowing….how do we know? What do we know?  How did the disciples know?…Mary…knew by voice….the others…by breaking bread…(except the one who loved him, who knew him by  by love…)

How does Jesus know Peter loves him? He will know when Peter feeds his sheep…

God first knows us before we know God, like Jesus knew Peter…with all our shortcomings, our failures, our gifts…

We’re called to know, but more to trust…
Not to believe but to follow

That’s our Easter challenge this year….to simply follow….



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