Easter 3, Year C May 5, 2019

Title:Easter 3, Year C May 5, 2019

 Easter 3, May 5, 2019 (full size gallery)

Yet another rainy Sunday for most of the morning!

However, the rain was gentle, brought cooler temperatures and droplets on the Iris. The sounds of the birds along the river was soothing. We had light attendance. One conflict was the Great Train Race for children.

A busy weekend with the MS walk yesterday with Shiloh Baptist.

The Corinthians class continued with Chapter 11 on the habits of eating for Communion. It was part of a general meal in the house churches which could be eaten ahead by the richer in society ahead of the poor. Paul tried to preserve unity and a stable body of Christ.

The altar was dressed with Cookie’s roses from her garden. Truely magnificent!

We celebrated Barbara’s birthday.

The sermon was on John’s chapter 21 on abundant love.

“As disciples of Jesus, our job is to be a source of abundant life to everyone around us, providing to the best of our ability what is lacking.

“Once when Jesus was talking with his disciples, he said, “I came that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” The disciples didn’t realize at the time that he was not only talking about his work, but theirs as well.
Their job, as disciples, would be to help bring abundant life to people even after Jesus had risen and returned to God.

“When we disciples follow this commandment and love one another abundantly, as Jesus has loved us, our love for one another gets transformed into abundant love, the sort of love that then transforms the people who receive it—Jesus transforms our love for one another into an endless strand of abundant miracles that reveal God’s love to the world.

“Jesus is counting on us, the disciples, to offer abundant life to those around us. This offering of God’s abundant life to others is our on-going work as his followers.”

The potluck featured a Mexican theme with taco salad and other dishes for Cinco De Mayo, May 5, day of the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War in 1862.

We have a few videos of this Sunday, including the choir anthem, “Alleluiah, Alleluiah” by R. W. Smith.

Today’s readings invite us to consider the meaning of Jesus’ presence with us. In the story from Acts, the apostles, empowered by the Spirit of Jesus, preach the gospel despite persecution. John, in his Revelation, describes how being in the presence of Jesus, the enthroned Lamb of God, moves all of creation to bless and praise. In today’s gospel story, Jesus, in another postresurrection appearance, provides an abundant catch of fish for his disciple

The First Reading is Acts 9:1-6, (7-20). From the Church of Scotland

“In this passage we encounter one of the best known stories (outwith the Gospels) of the New Testament. Even in the secular world people recognise the concept of a “road to Damascus experience”. So, the way in which we approach the interpretation of this story can be all the more powerful as some of the stereotypical understandings are probed, questioned and unpacked. These verses invite us to consider how an encounter with God might play a part in altering the direction of our life and faith. They show how even the greatest sceptic can find their view of life transformed by an encounter with the living Christ. Saul is a public opponent of this new Jesus movement. He has been an activist in the movement to stamp out this unorthodox and, in his view, unwelcome proposal that the Messiah has been encountered in the crucified Christ. The very idea of a crucified God was anathema to the ultra-orthodox Saul (find the expression of his early theological understanding of the cross in 1 Corinthians Chapter 1), so any approach to these verses cannot underestimate the significance of the “turnaround” that we see in the life of the man whose conversion even brings about a change of name – from Saul to Paul. No one, however, should attempt an interpretation of this passage without consideration of the events in Saul’s life that lead up to this transformation. Don’t forget that Saul came from a deeply religious background – so this is a man who has wrestled with ideas about God all of his adult life. This is also a man who has been forced into an ultra-orthodox way of thinking, so he cannot possibly be unaware of the kind of counter-cultural thinking that Jesus embodied. Remember too, that he is the man who held the coats at the stoning of Stephen – in Stephen’s face Saul may well have caught his first real glimpse of the risen Christ. “Metanoia” (derived from the Greek, metanoein) is the theological term which describes the central feature of this passage, in other words, a transformative change of heart and a spiritual conversion.”

Luke uses a number of terms to describe Christians: here they are called “disciples,” those “who belonged to the Way” (an Old Testament way to describe the moral demands of the covenant), “saints,” nd those “who invoke your name.” 

Paul’s persecution of the community is persecution of Jesus himself.

Blinded by the light, Paul is led helpless to Damascus and revealed to the community as God’s “chosen instrument” or vessel.

The Second Reading, Revelation 5:11-14 comes from the beginning of the major section of Revelation, that of the scroll with seven seals (4:1–19:10). The scene continues John’s vision of God enthroned in the heavenly court.

To God as the Creator, the four creatures and the elders sing praise. God is holding a scroll with seven seals, which contains the whole of God’s redemptive plan, not only revealed but made effective by the Lamb. The Lamb, as the divine/human agent, is the only one who can open it. 

All creation joins in the hymn of praise, for the whole universe is already reconciled to God. The royal and priestly task of the Church is to make known that fact, and its success is already anticipated in the final “Amen.”

The Gospel from John, chapter 21 is regarded by most scholars as an epilogue to the gospel, added either by the evangelist himself or by an editor-disciple. 

From the Church of Scotland

“This passage must be one of the richest seams of truth in the whole of the Gospels. It is pregnant with meaning and here are just a few of the ideas that are begging to be explored and extrapolated.

One is the image of fishermen who had left their nets to join in a great adventure under the leadership of Jesus of Nazareth; now, so soon after His death, they were back working the old patch, trawling the Sea of Tiberias for fish. They had been taught to fish for people, but they were on the verge of giving that up as a bad job. Then the remarkable happens – it is a repetition of the experience that brought them to discipleship in the first place.

Another is the image of the meal around the charcoal fire. There are shades of the meal with the multitude (John 6) in this image. There are reflections of the way in which the risen Christ was made known to Cleopas (Luke 24) and his friend, “in the breaking of the bread”. And there is something of the Upper Room (Luke 22) in the way food is shared and faith is restored. And perhaps the most poignant image is the way in which the three times denial of Christ by Peter is countermanded by the three times challenge that leaves Peter reinvigorated and
in no doubt of his future direction. This is a passage which is all about renewal and recovery of faith. Few passages of Scripture speak more clearly to those whose faith may ebb and flow and who might benefit from being able to return in their mind and memory to those places and times when they were fired up with enthusiasm and purpose.”

Today’s gospel is rich in homey detail: smell the fresh dawn wind across the lake, the scent of the charcoal fire. Hear the thump of waves against a wooden boat, the shouts of old friends across the waters. Feel the warmth of bread, the sinewy rope of the fishing nets. These details help set a scene so vivid we can imagine ourselves in it. The setting is important: Jesus returns to his friends by a shore, where he feeds them. He does not appear in the temple precincts and lecture them on law. Instead he meets them in a place of abundance, beauty, nurture.  It is also a place of mystery. Why, after several previous appearances, were the apostles so slow to recognize Jesus? Where did the fish come from that he was grilling before they hauled their catch ashore? And why is the language of the meal so closely modeled on the feeding of the 5,000 in John 6?

Perhaps it is more practical to answer the questions that resonate in our lives. Where does the prodigious catch happen in our experience? Are we attuned to the abundant graces, or in a frenzy of activity, do we miss them?

And how do we draw people in? Is our manner, our style, our humor filled with warm nourishment? Or are we too tense, dour, busy, obsessed with law, regulation and schedule to care about netting anyone else, let alone having breakfast with them?