|Second Sunday in Advent, Year A||December 4, 2016||Second Sunday of Advent, Year A||Matthew 3:1-12|
|First Sunday in Advent, Year A||November 27, 2016||First Sunday of Advent, Year A||Isaiah 2:1-5, Ps 122, Romans 13:11-14, Matthew 24:36-44|
|Christ the King Sunday, Year C||November 20, 2016||Christ the King Sunday, Year C||Jeremiah 23:1-6. Ps 46, Colossians 1:11-20, Luke 23:33-43|
|Twenty Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||November 13, 2016||Proper 28, Year C||Malachi 4:1-2a, Ps 98, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13, Luke 21:5-19|
|Charles Sydnor’s sermon, Nov. 6, 2016, All Saints||November 6, 2016||All Saints, Year C||Luke: 6: 20-31|
|Twenty Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||October 30, 2016||Proper 26, Year C||Isaiah 1:10-18, Psalm 32, Luke 19:1-10|
|Twenty Third Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||October 23, 2016||Proper 25, Year C||II Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18; Luke 18:9-14|
|Twenty Second Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||October 16, 2016||Proper 24, Year C||Luke 18:1-8, Genesis 32: 22-31|
|Twenty First Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||October 9, 2016||Proper 23, Year C||2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c; Luke 17:11-19|
|Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||October 2, 2016||Proper 22, Year C||II Timothy 1:1-14|
|Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||September 25, 2016||Proper 21, Year C||Luke 16:19-31|
|Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||September 4, 2016||Proper 18, Year C||Philemon 1-21; Luke 14:25-33|
|Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||August 28, 2016||Proper 17, Year C||Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16; Luke 14:1, 7-14|
|Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||August 21, 2016||Proper 16, Year C||Hebrews 12:18-29; Luke 13:10-17|
|Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||August 7, 2016||Proper 14, Year C||Genesis 15:1-6, Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16, Proper 14, Year C|
Easter 3, Year C
Sermon Date:April 10, 2016
Scripture: John 21:1-19
Liturgy Calendar: Easter 3, Year C
“Jesus by the Sea of Tiberias” – Duccio, di Buoninsegna (1308-11)
The hauntingly beautiful gospel story we have just heard in today’s gospel stands open like a doorway between the past and the future.
As we stand in this doorway, we find ourselves simultaneously reflecting on the ministry of Jesus and his relationship with his disciples before his death and resurrection, and then looking ahead to see, even if dimly, how the relationship with the Risen Christ and his followers, including us, will continue into the future.
This story about Jesus appearing at dawn one morning by the Sea of Galilee and cooking breakfast for the disciples reveals that the Risen Christ, even in his resurrection body, is the same Lord and Savior that the disciples followed before the resurrection, even though the disciples do not immediately recognize this person calling to them from the shore.
And this story reminds us of the characteristics of God, with whom the Risen Christ is One.
As the story begins, Jesus calls out to the disciples, who have been fishing all night, and have caught nothing, and tells them to cast their net on the other side of the boat, which they do.
So many fish fill the net that the disciples are not even able to haul the net into the boat.
Do you remember that story earlier in John, Chapter 6, when Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee and a large crowd followed him?
Jesus asks the disciples where they are going to buy bread for all of these people to eat. Andrew tells Jesus that one boy has five barley loaves and two fish, but what good will that do?
Jesus has the five thousand people sit down on the grass, and then he takes the loaves and gives thanks, and distributes the bread to the people, and then the fish also, and the people eat all they want. And when they are finished, Jesus has the disciples gather up the leftovers, twelve baskets in all. God’s miraculous and seemingly impossible abundance—more than enough for even five thousand people—from five barley loaves and two fish.
And now, on this morning on the Sea of Galilee after a night of catching nothing, the disciples’ net teems with fish.
The “disciple that Jesus loved” then recognizes Jesus, and cries out, “It is the Lord!”
Peter jumps overboard and swims to shore, ahead of the other disciples who come in the boat, dragging the net full of fish.
When they get to shore, they see a charcoal fire there.
Another charcoal fire had burned on the night before Jesus died, in the dark courtyard of the high priest. The slaves and the police had made this charcoal fire because it was cold that night, and they were standing around it trying to stay warm. It was in the flickering and shadowy light of this fire that Peter denied Jesus three times before the cock crowed and the sun rose.
At this first charcoal fire on a cold night, Peter disgraces himself and denies the one he holds dearest.
And now he finds himself once again beside a charcoal fire in the brightening light of a new day—and standing at this fire is the Risen Christ, the very one that Peter so recently denied.
And Jesus is cooking fish and bread on the fire, and invites the disciples to bring some of the fish they have caught and to come and have breakfast.
I’m guessing that all of the disciples recalled the last supper that they had shared with Jesus. They remembered that he had taken off his robe that night and tied a towel around his waist and had washed their feet like a servant.
And now, as he took the bread and the fish that he had just cooked and gave it to them, they must have remembered the way he had shared bread with them on that last night.
And now the Risen Christ is here with the disciples again, by the Sea of Galilee, lovingly serving them, just as God had abundantly fed the Israelites with manna in the wilderness.
After breakfast, still gathered around that charcoal fire, the Risen Lord has a conversation with Peter. Three times, his Lord asks—“Peter, do you love me?” This loving questioning is a form of merciful judgement, in which Jesus gives Peter yet another chance to declare his love and fidelity to his Lord and Savior.
And this merciful judgement is also a characteristic of God, whose favor extends for a lifetime, as today’s psalm states.
Today’s gospel reading ends with Jesus saying, “Follow me.”
And this is another characteristic of God—who throughout Holy Scripture has sought out God’s people and has asked them to follow—through the wilderness into the promised land, from exile in Babylon back to Jerusalem, and more recently, from the star lit fields to a manger.
The Son of God calls the disciples to follow him through Galilee, spreading God’s healing love like seed, and then to follow him to Jerusalem, to the cross, to the empty grave.
Now, by the Sea of Galilee, he lovingly invites the disciples to trust him enough to follow him into a future that they cannot see, a future which may carry them where they do not want to go.
And so God calls us.
We are the ones who belong to The Way. We are God’s disciples on this earth, here and now.
We are the ones who stand in that open doorway, looking back on those first disciples gathered once more with their Lord and Savior around a charcoal fire early one morning by the Sea of Galilee, sharing bread and fish together.
Today, we disciples, the mercifully judged and forgiven people of God, gather around this altar of abundance, to share in our own resurrection feast with our Risen Christ.
When we see with eyes of faith that truly, “It is the Lord” in our midst, then we find ourselves in that same conversation with our Risen Lord that Peter had with him that day by the sea.
Jesus says to each one of us–
“Do you love me?”
“Feed my lambs. Tend my sheep. Feed my sheep. Follow me.”
After having gathered at the table this day to share a meal with the Risen Christ, we will then pass through the doors of this place into the future into which God is calling each one of on this new day—to go in peace to love and serve the Lord in all the ways that God will call us to serve our neighbors in God’s name and for God’s glory.
We can go where God calls us to go, knowing that God is giving us abundant life, feeding us, and continually calling us ever and ever further along the Way.
And even when The Way takes us where we do not want to go, and we cannot see where we are going, yet we can follow in faith, and walk in love, knowing that another dawn is near, and that the Risen Christ himself waits for us on a not so distant shore, to welcome us all into the heavenly banquet which he has so graciously prepared for each one of us.