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May 1, 2022 Sermon

4 Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” 6 He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. 7 That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off. 9 When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. 15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” 19 (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”

John O'Donohue - In Praise of the Earth.

Let us bless The imagination of the Earth. That knew early the patience To harness the mind of time, Waited for the seas to warm, Ready to welcome the emergence Of things dreaming of voyaging Among the stillness of land. And how light knew to nurse The growth until the face of the Earth Brightened beneath a vision of color. When the ages of ice came And sealed the Earth inside An endless coma of cold, The heart of the Earth held hope, Storing fragments of memory, Ready for the return of the sun. Let us thank the Earth That offers ground for home And holds our feet firm To walk in space open To infinite galaxies. Let us salute the silence And certainty of mountains. Their sublime stillness, Their dream-filled hearts. The wonder of a garden Trusting the first warmth of spring Until its black infinity of cells Becomes charged with dream; Then the silent, slow nurture Of the seed’s self, coaxing it To trust the act of death. The humility of the Earth That transfigures all That has fallen Of outlived growth. The kindness of the Earth, Opening to receive Our worn forms Into the final stillness. Let us ask forgiveness of the Earth For all our sins against her: For our violence and poisonings Of her beauty. Let us remember within us The ancient clay, Holding the memory of seasons, The passion of the wind, The fluency of water, The warmth of fire, The quiver-touch of the sun And shadowed sureness of the moon. That we may awaken, To live to the full The dream of the Earth Who chose us to emerge And incarnate its hidden night In mind, spirit, and light.

As was the case earlier in the gospel when Jesus made a post-resurrection appearance to Mary at the empty tomb, verse 4 tells us, “… but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus”.

Our scripture this morning flows from the disciples spending the night fishing without netting a catch to finding their nets full to the point of absurdity after the person standing on the shore instructs them to let down their nets on the other side of the boat. They went from nothing to abundance in the span of minutes. The miraculous catch caused them to realize who he was.

The disciples were still having difficulty recognizing the risen Christ. Perhaps, still having difficulty believing that he could be dead, and then not dead, but risen.

Seriously, how could that be? What a heap of tumultuous emotions they must have been feeling. In today’s vernacular, they must have been a “hot mess.” At once they were both confused and hopeful. They were excited to see Jesus, yet afraid because they were seeing Jesus.

Faith sometimes comes as an epiphany, and sometimes as a slowly dawning comprehension. As we talked about last week, it can ebb and flow like the tide. Our faith is not constant; is not without doubt and questions and confusion. Faith requires us to consider the implausible, the unlikely, the impossible. Faith requires us to allow for mystery and reason to coexist. As we read in the Epistle to the Hebrews, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (11:1). The late theologian, pastor, and author Frederick Buechner writes that, “Faith is better understood as a verb than as a noun, as a process than as a possession. It is on-again-off-again rather than once-and-for-all.” (Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC, p. 25)

This passage ties together the themes brought forward throughout John’s gospel. Hospitality… Community… Communion… with Christ and with one another. Recognizing the figure on the beach as the risen Christ and accepting the invitation to “come and have breakfast” are the beginnings of faith in things seen and unseen for this fledgling community, the beginnings of understanding a wider definition of presence. Bringing their catch and their very selves to share a meal with Jesus, sharing fish and bread on the beach, is reminiscent of breaking bread together at the Last Supper.

The community of disciples that shared their meals with Jesus, witnessed his healing powers, hungered for his teachings, those men and women were witnesses to his risen self. Those people, as individuals and as a community, risked their reputations, their integrity, their futures by speaking the truth as they were coming to understand it.

How does this relate to Earth Day and our climate crisis? It illustrates how we are called to live together with one another – and the earth. How we are called to speak uncomfortable truths. How we are called to change our ways and persuade others to change theirs also.

In the final verses of today’s scripture, the triple question allows Peter to answer in the affirmative three times after he had denied Jesus three times on the eve of his crucifixion.

Likewise, God gives us ample opportunities to change our ways, to turn back toward God, to become better stewards of this planet.

These verses end with the instruction to “follow” Jesus, to take care of Jesus’ flock. To take care of God’s people, all people – and in the broadest sense, to take care of all of Creation. Jesus is talking specifically to Peter in the scripture, but it applies to each one of us, as well.

After hearing John O’Donohue’s, “In Praise of the Earth” how could any of us go on abusing our planet? Or if not abusing it ourselves, failing to protect it from the violence and neglect of others?

We sing songs of praise to the earth and then go out and throw our fast-food trash out the car window, consume petroleum products for our homes and vehicles as if there are no repercussions to the environment, and continue to expand our human footprint to the detriment of plants and animals everywhere.

We listen to scripture extolling the abundance made available to us and interpret it selfishly as God wants me to have more than enough, rather than understanding that all that God created is for everyone, not just for some. These first disciples that made their living on the sea were accustomed to working together. They all succeeded or failed together.

In John’s gospel, those meeting the risen Christ do not immediately recognize him. In his resurrection appearances Jesus makes himself known through the breaking of the bread. When we break and bless our bread, our invitation is met with the living presence of God in our midst. May we each see Jesus, feel Jesus, know Jesus in our shared meal this morning, and in our common meals throughout the week. Christ is risen, Christ is risen indeed!


Rev. TJ Mack – May 1, 2022

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