FRIDAY OF EASTER WEEK

April 26, 2019

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Jesus appears by the sea – James Tissot

JOHN After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. 2 Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 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

 

Janet Brooks Gerloff

The Last Breakfast – Janet Brooks Gerloff

Here we join the last breakfast.  Jesus is cooking by the time the guys came in from fishing without anything to show for being wet and cold.  He must have walked down to the water, shouting the question all fishers hear as the boat nears the dock, “Boys, didn’t catch anything, did you?” “Nothing,” the glum reply.   Chuckling, Jesus said, “Throw the net on the right side, there’s fish to be caught.”   To which, John thought, “haven’t we been here before? It’s the Lord!” Peter not to be outdone dives into the sea getting to the beach first.

 

 

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The Last Breakfast – James Tissot

The grill was hot. Jesus called for fresh fish and they ate right there.  It’s like a group of buddies had serve as pall bearers for the best among them, only suddenly there he is alive but changed and all for the better.  If death can’t stop him, what can stop any of them?  Sated with food, they lay around like a pile of puppies.  The scene is irresistibly attractive, the kind rising from a genuine religious experience.  Oh, there were issues to tend and a whole world to save, but on that clear cool morning they were at peace, together again.

By the time John writes this text, only he remains.  His brother, James was the first to fall.  Now he will be the last.  Sons of Thunder, bookends of the Apostles.  In the high altar mural in the church here at Saint John’s is the old John.  He’s not crazed exactly, but clearly he has seen something.

And he did.  I’m grateful for his Gospel.  Wish there was Volume 2.

In hope, in spite of the facts.

John

Epiphany III – 2014

Friedrich Heinrich Füger

Friedrich Heinrich Füger

Back at Christmas we heard the words of the Prophet Isaiah, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.”  But notice that Matthew quoting the prophet takes the situation a step further, “the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and on those who sit their lives away in the shadow of death – on them live has dawned!”

John the Baptizer was arrested by Herod and ultimately beheaded From then on Jesus started to herald his message and to say .  .  Jesus began to preach the Kingdom of Heaven. “Repent, for the Kingdom is at hand.”  Or as Frederick Bruner puts it, “Turn your lives around, because here comes the Kingdom of Heaven.”

And so it did.  Without marching bands and media coverage, walking along the Sea of Galilee, Jesus sees Simon and Andrew his brother.  This is the Andrew who last week spends the afternoon talking with Jesus.    At the end of last week’s reading, Andrew finds Simon and tells him that he has found the messiah, the anointed one.

We all know Simon.  Jesus nicknamed him Petros, the Rock.   He was a man of giant proportions, wonderfully complex, and passionate: at his best a rock, at his worst, silly putty.  Andrew, was the proverbial “little brother”, stable and dependable.  In the Gospel accounts, Andrew is always bringing someone to Jesus.

Jesus calls them.  This was not their first meeting but now comes the moment to decide.   They left their nets, boats, and families and followed Jesus.

Then Jesus called James and John, the sons of Zebedee.  James was the older.     John, tradition has it, was about sixteen.  They are best known for being the loud mouths of the group.  Jesus named them the “Sons of Thunder” because they liked talk about punching the lights of anyone who disagreed with them.  Fortunately, like thunder, they were mostly noise.

Jesus called these four men and they left their:

  •                 Nets:       careers
  •                 Boats:    possessions
  •                 Father:   family

and  followed him.

fishing boatThis is not to say that they never had contact with career, processions or family again;

  •   Peter is later at home with his wife.
  •   All of them go fishing again.
  •   They didn’t give away the boats.

BUT CAREER, POSSESSIONS AND FAMILY were no longer the ultimate focus of their lives.  To do evangelism we must first, BE, evangelized!  We are initiated into this community, we are adopted into this family by Baptism.  We are baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ. This baptism is not magic.  It is not like a flu shot.  It is the beginning of   relationship and dependence on God.

We may or may not be aware of the work of the Spirit for a long time.  We should, however, be very aware of the love and nurture of Christians around us.  That is why we need to know each other, love each other, forgive each other, carrying the burden of those overloaded and building a community that promotes maturity in the faith building up the body of Christ.

Fra angelica

Fra angelica

The center of this family of Christians, like all families, is the table where we eat.  This is the place where we gather as the assembly of the faithful to encounter in word and sacrament: The Resurrected the Jesus.

From time to time, what one of my favorite characters in literature calls a “sudden irresistible motion of grace” may well come our way.  We are going along, working, doing our thing, when an event, a person, or a combination of factors STOPS US in our tracks.  Our outer shell is cracked and suddenly our heart is dilated, we can’t explain it.  Something has shifted a bit and we are transformed from what we were.  We call these events: religious or conversions experiences.

Then we move on and reflect on what has happened by:

    1. Study:    what does this mean?
    2. Piety/Prayer:  What is God saying to me?
    3. Action:  Doing what is called for in response to God’s call and grace.

So the process of conversion, which began at our baptism, continues.  The same process is alive in us that worked on the first disciples.   The authenticity of their discipleship resided in their “follower ship”.  They did not simply “believe” Jesus and let it go at that.  They did not “praise” Jesus by verbal declarations of support; nor, did they offer Jesus good intentions about getting behind him some time in the future. They committed themselves.  They made a decision around which all the other decisions in their lives would revolve.  …

James Tissot

James Tissot

They made a commitment! They made a decision, which formatted all the other decisions they would ever make. The fact that they left nets boats and father and followed Jesus doesn’t mean that they never had contact with career, possessions, and family again. BUT none of these things were the focus, the defining principle of their lives.   The defining principle is a person: Jesus and their careers, possessions and family became their means of ministry.

None of us is born Christian — not now, nor in the time of Jesus.  We are never “genetically Christian.”  We might originate out of generations of “good Episcopalians,” but, as the statistics bear out, this origination does not guarantee an active involvement in the community of faith. In every age, in every generation, a decision has to be made. Grandparents and parents can’t make it for you.  A hand-me-down, hereditary commitment doesn’t work.  Sitting week after week in a chicken house will not make you a poulet!  It’s as futile as someone attempting to be baptized on behalf of someone else. Commitment can’t be made by proxy and God has no grandchildren!

 God’s self-disclosure in Christ calls for a response — our response.  That is the essence of today’s Gospel reading: revelation meets up with commitment.”   The philosopher, Alfred North Whitehead, once said, “a thing is what it does.”

 We can do all we will here in the church to talk about fishing.  We can talk theory, study the book, have a boat, (remember that the section of the church where you are seated is not the sanctuary [the sanctuary in this church is the section behind the altar rail, so when people ask me how many people can be seated in the sanctuary at Saint John’s I say, nine when crowded.] Where you are seated is called the nave from navis which means ship.  If we go out on the lake and paddle around a fish may jump into the boat. But that is not fishing. We are called to transformation and then to be agents of transformation, which brings me to that word that provokes an allergic reaction in Episcopalians: Evangelism, the fishing for people our Lord spoke of so long ago.

 It’s a loaded word.  The word, EVANGELISM, raises images of lapel pulling, 35 pound black-bound Bibles, guilt, shame, and the hard sell.  For some people who have been approached that way it feels like being “stalked” for Jesus.   I am uneasy with that too, but the problem is that in reacting against that we do nothing.  We say something like, “I think that by living a good life, a life of faith, people will observe that life and that will be enough.   Well maybe….

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A man who took this position lived next door to a man who was not a Christian.   So the Christian man decided to live out the life in front of his neighbor.  And he did.   The neighbor noticed that his neighbor’s life was different.  One day he said to the Christian across the back fence, “There’s just something about you that is different from me.  Your life is full and you are just more peaceful than I am.  I want to ask you a question?”

  • “Yes,” said the Christian.
  • “Are you,” asked the neighbor.”
  • The Christian began to get a little excited, “Yes, go on he said”
  • “Are you a vegetarian?” asked the neighbor.

There is a time when speaking a word to others about Jesus is exactly the thing required for the manifestation of grace to take place but it must come from deep within us where we hear the spirit speaking words of grace and hope.

It is time to get on with it.   Jesus calls us to follow him: now not later.   We are called to be full of him wherever we are.  Let us pray that our careers, processions, and families will day by day become the means by which “an irresistible motion of grace” may be manifested in our lives and in the lives of those we meet.

Amen.

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