May 1st 2022 Third Sunday of Easter John 21: 1-19
Since time immemorial this land has been the meeting point of different languages, faiths and cultures. From the original peoples and first stewards of this land: the Huron-Wendat, the Haudenosaunee, the Ojibway, Mississaugas, and Anishinabek, to those who journeyed to this land from Europe, Asia and Africa. May our church be a meeting point among different peoples where we build relationships of mutual respect and love.
Call to Worship
We are caked to walk from the darkened hill
to the light-filled empty tomb.
We come seeking surprise and wonder
in the dawning light of Easter Day.
Let us greet the Risen Christ
who is here among us.
Lighting The Christ Candle
Hymn- VU 562 “Jesus Calls Us”
Farewell Service: Rev. Ned’s final service with Scugog Island United Church will be on June 5th.
Copyright notice: Prayers from Celebrate God’s Presence: A Book of Services for The United Church of Canada Copyright © 2000 The United Church Publishing House.
Call to Confession
Easter takes us by surprise, awakening us to the doubt and despair that have been rooted in our lives. Let us now confess to God.
Prayer of Confession
If at times, we deny you, God forgive.
When the risks of discipleship are high,
And we are nowhere to be found:
When we wash our hands of responsibility”
When we cast our lot with powerful oppressors and seek to buy freedom with silver:
When fear keeps us from witnessing to your truth,
or prejudice keeps us from believing it:
Om the bright light of Easter morning, O God, our sin is exposed, and your grace is revealed.
Tender God, raise us in your love
so that, with joy,
we may witness to your awesome deeds,
in the name of Jesus the Risen one. Amen.
Words of Forgiveness
In any person and in all circumstances, God works with wondrous power, forgiving us, renewing and restoring us, reconciling us to one another and to God. We are forgiven. Glory be to God. Amen.
Hymn VU 345 “Come, Children, Join to Sing”
Prayer of Illumination
O God for whom there are no barriers, no stones too big to remove, roll away our resistance to you. Let your words fill us with new life and bring us out from the tomb of indifference, alive again in you. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
Scripture: John 21: 1-19
After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. 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. 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.
Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” 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. 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. 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.
When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 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. 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. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
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.” 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.” 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. 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.” (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”
This weekend was a meeting of the East Central Ontario Regional Council, formerly Bay of Quinte Conference. One of the ministers commented that this passage came to mind when hearing about all the good work being done in the region. He said there are so many great things being done in all the churches across the Region and we are trying to pack it all into these short zoom meetings, it feels a bit like the disciples trying to haul in the 153 fish with nets overfilled to the point of bursting. Sometimes we can be overwhelmed by the good news.
This image of the disciples following Jesus’ fishing directions and catching a great haul of fish is a story I really enjoy. It can be applied to so many different situations. Even just the detail that Jesus told them where to cast their nets from the other side speaks to me of by changing our perspective and approach, even in a small way, we have a better chance of success.
There are other parts of this passage that I am not as sure what to do with. The detail that Peter puts on his clothes before jumping into the water to swim to Jesus because he had been naked has always been a detail I found a bit strange.
Another detail is that when Jesus askes Peter do you love me? The word for love here is Agape. This is the self-giving, self-sacrificing love that the New Testament uses to describe God’s love. When Peter answers he says, Yes Lord, you know that I love you”, but he uses the word philo which describes the love that is the bond of friendship between two people. One minister commented credit to Peter for being honest that his love isn’t the same as God’s love. Another minister quipped that this is a passage where Jesus was friend-zoned.
The other part of this passage that I’ve always struggled with is that just when Jesus and Peter are sharing this lovely moment, Jesus starts to talk about Peter’s death. It seems a bit morbid. It doesn’t seem to fit with the resurrection theme of the gospel. But actually it does.
This passage is full of images of hope. They might not be immediately apparent to us but this passage offers one image after another of hope. The first image of hope is the miraculous catch of fish, but the other details of the story that I’ve lifted up as being a bit unusual are also images of hope.
Peter realizing his nakedness is an echo of the story from Genesis of Adam and Eve realizing their nakedness after eating the forbidden fruit. When God calls to them they are ashamed of their nakedness and hide from God. In this passage when Peter realizes that it is Jesus on the shore, he doesn’t run and hide in shame, instead he grabs his clothes and rushes toward Jesus as fast as he can. The message here is that in this resurrection moment one can move past their sins and shame by running to Jesus and through Jesus to God.
Jesus asking Peter three times, “Do you love me?” Gives Peter the opportunity to affirm his love three times. Just as he had repeatedly denied Jesus, he now can repeatedly proclaim his love.
Even the conversation where Jesus tells Peter about the type of death he will have is an image of hope. You see, Peter had declared that he would stand by Jesus and die for him. But when the moment came in the garden of Gethsemane, Peter had fled like all the others. How could Peter claim any leadership role in the community when others knew he had not stood by his word. By telling Peter that he would have a death that would glorify God, Jesus is actually vouching for Peter. Saying that he would fulfil the oath he had made and would stand with Jesus to his end.. Jesus is restoring Peter’s credibility so that others would once again see him as a leader. These are some of the images of hope in the passage, but there is one that I haven’t yet touched on which is perhaps the most hope filled. The words that Jesus spoke to the disciples when they came ashore with their net full of fish. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”
There is something so comforting and familiar about Jesus inviting his friends to join him for breakfast. I remember as a child visiting my grandparents on Baptiste Lake in the summers. When it was time to gather the family for lunch Grandma Margaret would ring a triangle. The sound carried across the water and let everyone know it was time to come back to eat. And here is Jesus standing at the shore, letting his friends know it is time to come back and eat.
I was reminded of a quote from author A.A. Milne:
“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what exciting things are going to happen today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.
There are several interesting and exciting things that happen in this scripture passage, but Jesus saying, “Come and have breakfast” to the disciples feels especially significant. Just as God prepares the heavenly banquet table for us, Jesus has prepared a campfire where his friends can sit and enjoy a meal; this an opportunity for them to rest, forget about the troubles of the past night’s failed fishing expedition, and be renewed for the journeys ahead.
A meal with loved ones around a table, or campfire, at a restaurant, here in the church, or anywhere can be an opportunity for renewal and healing. So many of our most powerful memories are connected to the tastes, touch, and smell of food. I was thinking about my university years. The food on campus wasn’t exactly the healthiest and when I lived off campus I didn’t suddenly become an amazing cook. With all the school work I didn’t exactly have the healthiest eating habits- cramming for a test, on an empty stomach and then eating way too much junk food. One year I had a meal of corndogs just about every night of the week. I still feel sick thinking about it. Coming home was such a blessing. The comfort of it. The chance to relax. The warm meals that were so much healthier. Jesus inviting the disciples to join him for breakfast resonates so strongly when I think about how I would look forward to coming home from school.
I’ve also seen people change when a meal is involved. At one of the first funerals I presided, the family was clearly struggling through the funeral service, they invited me to join them at a restaurant after the service and I saw a complete transformation. This family that had struggled just an hour earlier to share memories while they were in the funeral home, quickly started to open up at the restaurant. Shortly after the food was served they were able to share beautiful stories and memories, they laughed, cried, and spoke about their love.
All of the images of hope in this passage come back to food and feeding others. This is what Jesus tells Peter to do. “Feed my lambs.” “Tend my sheep.” “Feed my sheep.” Our call as Christians is to feed others body and soul.
Peter learned that God is able to take our actions that run counter to God’s will or our actions that fall short of our purpose and transform them. When we believe that we are unable to make a difference and that things will always be the same as they have always been, God begins a new story. God transforms the old patterns and cycles of behaviour so that something new can appear. This is the Easter story. This is the story of the resurrection. As the psalmist writes, “Weeping may linger for a night, but joy comes with the dawn.” This is the transforming power of God’s love.
The gospel says that it was just after daybreak when Jesus stood on the shore and invited his friends for breakfast. Night has passed and a new day is beginning. At the start of each new day may we hear the voice of Jesus call to us. And as we follow Christ’s call, may we discover the abundance of God’s love. May we share that love with others. Amen.
Hymn: VU 563 “Jesus you have come to the Lakeshore”
Prayers of the People
Merciful and loving God, we come into your presence today hoping in some way to touch you, to see for ourselves the truth of your resurrection. Gather up our lingering fears and confusion, meet our doubts with compassion and understanding. Open our eyes to your love and grace surrounding us. Open our ears to hear you calling us to new challenges. Open our imaginations to new possibilities. Come anew to al who have been unable to believe; come anew to all who have known you but turned away from you. Help us to experience you standing in our midst, saying “Peace, peace.” May our broken world and our broken lives be transformed in your image. We offer woundedness and turn to you for healing and newness of life, for you, O God, are our strength, our hope, and our salvation. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
O God, this is the offering of our time, talent, and treasure. May these gifts be used with wisdom, and with justice in the church, and throughout the world.
Like the women who ran to share the Good News of the empty tomb,
let us go forth with joy.
Like the travelers walking on the Emmaus Road,
let us go forth with opened eyes.
Like the disciples receiving the Holy Spirit,
let us go forth with peace.
Like Thomas, filled with doubt,
let us go forth with faith.
Like the fishers pulling heavy nets,
let us go forth with abundant life.
Go Now in Peace