I'm Going Fishin'
EASTER 3, YEAR C, APRIL 29, 2001
WEST MECKLENBURG CHARGE
FIELDS UMC, EPHESUS UMC, FRIENDSHIP UMC
READ THE GOSPEL TO THE PEOPLE
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN
1Later on, Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples. It was by the Sea of Tiberius, and it happened like this:2Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathaniel from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two more of his disciples were together.3Simon Peter said, ‘I’m going fishing.’ They replied, ‘We’ll come with you.’ They went out and got into the boat but caught nothing that night.4When it was already light, there stood Jesus on the shore, though the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.5Jesus called out, ‘Haven’t you caught anything, friends?’ And when they answered, ‘No,’6he said, ‘Throw the net out to starboard and you’ll find something.’ So they threw the net out and could not haul it in because of the quantity of fish.7The disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord.’ At these words, ‘It is the Lord,’ Simon Peter tied his outer garment round him (for he had nothing on) and jumped into the water.8The other disciples came on in the boat, towing the net with the fish; they were only about a hundred yards from land.9As soon as they came ashore they saw that there was some bread there and a charcoal fire with fish cooking on it.10Jesus said, ‘Bring some of the fish you have just caught.’11Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net ashore, full of big fish, one hundred and fifty–three of them; and in spite of there being so many the net was not broken.12Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ None of the disciples was bold enough to ask, ‘Who are you?’ They knew quite well it was the Lord.13Jesus then stepped forward, took the bread and gave it to them, and the same with the fish.14This was the third time that Jesus revealed himself to the disciples after rising from the dead. *
LET US PRAY…PRAYER TO THE HOLY SPIRIT…AMEN.
WHAT ARE THESE BOOKS THAT WE CALL THE BIBLE REALLY ABOUT?
THE SHORT ANSWER IS THAT THEY ARE A LOVE STORY,
A STORY OF GOD’S LOVE FOR US AND ALL CREATION.
ONE OF MY FAVORITE COMMENTS ABOUT THE BIBLE
WAS MADE BY MY OLD TESTAMENT TEACHER, DAVID DRAKE,
WHO SAID THE BIBLE WAS FOR HIM
THE GREATEST SYMPHONY EVER COMPOSED
AND THAT WHEN HE WENT TO A WORSHIP SERVICE,
HE ONLY HEARD A FEW NOTES OF THE SYMPHONY
AND OFTEN THOSE FEW NOTES WERE OUT OF TUNE.
SO PERHAPS THE ROLE OF THE PREACHER IS TO KEEP THE MUSIC IN TUNE.
I’LL DO MY BEST.
SCRIPTURE, ON ANOTHER LEVEL, IS ABOUT ‘ENCOUNTERING GOD’.
THROUGHOUT THE BIBLE THERE IS STORY AFTER STORY
ABOUT THE ‘GOD ENCOUNTER’ WITH HUMANKIND.
IN MOST OF THESE ENCOUNTERS, GOD CHASES AFTER US
AND WE RUN AWAY FROM GOD.
MARTIN BELL SAYS IT BEST IN HIS BOOK, DISTANT FIRE,
“WE DO NOT FIND GOD; GOD FINDS US.”
HE GOES ON TO EXPLAIN, “GOD WILL NOT LET US GO TO HELL IN PEACE.”
IN THE FEW NOTES WE HEARD FROM GOD’S GREAT SYMPHONY THIS MORNING FROM JOHN’S GOSPEL,
THE CROSS AND THE EMPTY TOMB ARE FAR AWAY IN JERUSALEM.
THE GLOW OF THE RESURRECTION HAS BEGUN TO FADE.
THE EASTER LILIES HAVE STARTED TO WILT.
EARLIER IN JOHN’S GOSPEL, WE ARE TOLD
THAT JESUS APPEARED TWICE TO HIS FRIENDS BEHIND CLOSED DOORS.
YOU WILL REMEMBER
THAT THE SECOND TIME HE APPEARED,
THOMAS WAS PRESENT.
JESUS WALKED UP TO THOMAS AND SAID,
“LOOK THOMAS, IT’S ME.”
SHOWING THOMAS AND THE OTHERS HIS WOUNDS,
JESUS WAS MADE KNOWN
NOT BY HIS VOICE
BUT BY HIS WOUNDS.
JOHN’S GOSPEL ENDS TWICE.
THE FIRST TIME IT ENDS AT CHAPTER 20, VERSE 36
AFTER JESUS APPEARED IN THE UPPER ROOM.
THERE’S MORE TO TELL,
MORE MUSIC TO BE PLAYED
AND SO, PRAISE GOD, WE HAVE TODAY’S READING FROM CHAPTER 21.
Later on, Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples.
YES, LATER ON!
SOMETIMES WE MUST WAIT,
AND TRULY THE ENCOUNTER WILL COME.
IN OUR WAITING,
IN OUR HUMAN ATTEMPT AT PATIENCE,
WE FEEL MORE LIKE WE ARE IN THE EMPTY TOMB
RATHER THAN WITH THE RISEN CHRIST.
SOMETIMES THE RISEN CHRIST SEEMS FAR AWAY,
A DISTANT MEMORY
OF WHAT USED TO BE
OR WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN.
DON’T BE CONFUSED;
THE EMPTY TOMB IS AN IMPORTANT PLACE.
IT IS CRUCIAL TO WHO WE ARE AS FOLLOWERS OF JESUS.
BUT JESUS DOESN’T STAY THERE
AND NEITHER SHOULD WE.
THE UPPER ROOM,
THE LOCKED PLACE,
WHERE WE HIDE,
OUT OF FEAR AND UNCERTAINTY,
IS IMPORTANT TOO.
IT IS WHERE JESUS REMINDS US OF HIS WOUNDS
WE ARE KNOWN TO OTHERS
BY OUR WOUNDS
AS HE IS MADE KNOWN TO US BY HIS.
WE CAN’T STAY THERE EITHER.
AS JESUS LEFT THE UPPER ROOM,
SO MUST WE.
WHERE SHALL WE ENCOUNTER JESUS AGAIN?
IN THE COMMON,
IN THE ORDINARY,
SMACK DAB IN THE MIDDLE OF OUR WORK PLACE.
THE TRUTH IS THAT AFTER THE EVENTS IN JERUSALEM,
THINGS STARTED TO UNRAVEL FOR THE DISCIPLES.
TIME AND DISTANCE TOOK THEIR TOLL.
THE TWELVE THAT BECAME ELEVEN HAS DWINDLED TO SEVEN.
THE TIE THAT BOUND THE DISCIPLES
APPEARS TO HAVE COME LOOSE.
ONCE DISTINGUISHED BY A COMMON PURPOSE,
THE FOLLOWERS OF JESUS
ARE BLENDING BACK INTO THEIR OLD BACKGROUNDS.
INSTEAD OF A NEW BEGINNING,
THEY ARE MOVING BACK INTO THE PAST.
ONCE THEY HAD MET JESUS,
THERE IS NO RECORD THAT PETER AND HIS FRIENDS
EVER CAUGHT A FISH
WITHOUT JESUS BEING PRESENT.
NEVERTHELESS, LISTEN TO OUR FRIEND PETER.
‘I’m going fishing.’
EVEN THOUGH JESUS HAD PROMISED PETER
THAT HE WOULD NO LONGER FISH FOR FISH
BUT FOR MEN,
“I’M GOING FISHING.”
AND SO THE REST GO WITH PETER.
NATHANIEL FROM CANA
MAY NOT EVEN HAVE KNOWN HOW TO FISH
BUT NO MATTER,
PETER IS A PROFESSIONAL FISHERMAN.
HE KNEW WHERE TO FISH
AND HOW TO FISH.
HE KNEW EVERY CURRENT OF THE SEA OF TIBERIUS;
IT WAS HIS OWN BACKYARD.
‘Haven’t you caught anything, friends?’
HOW EMBARRASSING THAT MUST HAVE BEEN FOR THOSE IN THE BOAT.
A PRO HAD BEEN AT THE HELM
AND THEY HAD FISHED ALL NIGHT
WITHOUT CATCHING ANY FISH.
NOW A VOICE FROM THE SHORE,
“HAVEN’T YOU CAUGHT ANYTHING, FRIENDS?”
ANYONE WHO HAS EVER BEEN FISHING
KNOWS THAT THIS IS THE MOST TEMPTING MOMENT
TO TELL THE ULTIMATE FISH STORY.
BUT PETER AND THE OTHERS
RESISTED THE TEMPTATION TO LIE
AND SHOUTED BACK, “NO!”
THERE WAS PROBABLY SOME DISAPPOINTMENT
IN THAT ‘NO’
AND MAYBE EVEN A LITTLE SARCASM.
‘Throw the net out to starboard and you’ll find something.’
THIS CALL TO THOSE FISHERMEN OF TWO THOUSAND YEARS AGO
WAS NOT ONLY MEANT FOR PETER AND HIS FRIENDS.
IT IS MEANT FOR US, TOO.
“TRY ANOTHER WAY”, SAYS JESUS.
“BREAK THE MOLD,
DARE TO BE DIFFERENT,
THROW THE NET OUT TO STARBOARD.”
WE’RE ALL IN THE SAME BOAT,
ALL OF US.
WE CAN DO NOTHING,
WE CAN DO ALL THINGS.
THIS MIGHT SEEM LIKE A GOOD PLACE TO END A SERMON,
BUT THERE IS MORE MUSIC IN THIS STORY,
THERE ARE A FEW MORE NOTES THAT GOD HAS WRITTEN
IN THIS PART OF THE SYMPHONY.
THE ‘DIVINE ENCOUNTER’ IS NOT OVER.
THERE ARE FISH TO FRY.
IT HAS BEEN A LONG NIGHT
THANKS TO THE STRANGER ON THE SHORE,
WE HAVE SOME FISH TO FRY.
12Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ None of the disciples was bold enough to ask, ‘Who are you?’ They knew quite well it was the Lord.13Jesus then stepped forward, took the bread and gave it to them, and the same with the fish.
ALL ENCOUNTERS WITH OUR LORD
ARE NOT LIKE THIS ONE,
TO BE SURE,
BUT SOME ARE
AND MORE MIGHT BE
IF WE WOULD PAY ATTENTION.
THE MESSAGE IS
THAT THE RISEN CHRIST
CAN BE KNOWN TO US
IN A SIMPLE MEAL OF FISH AND BREAD
RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE
OF OUR WORK-A-DAY WORLD.
IN JOHN’S GOSPEL
YOU SPELL JESUS, L-I-F-E.
“I CAME THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE LIFE
AND HAVE IT TO THE FULL.”
HE POURED OUT HIS LIFE
UNTIL IT WAS GONE.
WHO CAN BELIEVE IT,
HE IS OVERFLOWING WITH LIFE AGAIN.
IT IS NOT THE END.
IT IS THE BEGINNING.
“IT IS THE LORD”,
WAS THE CRY FROM THE BOAT;
AND NO ORDINARY LORD EITHER.
HE IS THE ‘LIGHT’,
AND THE ‘WAY’.
HE IS THE ‘DOOR’,
AND THE ‘BREAD OF LIFE’.
HE IS NO ORDINARY LORD
BUT HE IS LORD
OF THE ORDINARY.
HE IS LORD
AND HE IS RISEN.
AND HE MEETS US IN THE ORDINARY,
WHERE WE ARE,
LIKE THE WORDS OF THAT FAMOUS HYMN SAY,
“JUST AS I AM.”
IF WE FAIL TO RECOGNIZE CHRIST IN THE ORDINARY,
WE WILL CERTAINLY FAIL TO RECOGNIZE HIM ANYWHERE ELSE.
AND ANY PLACE
IS THUS TRANSFORMED
FROM ORDINARY TO HOLY.
BUT THE HOLY CAN BE FRIGHTENING.
MOST OF US WOULD PREFER THE ORDINARY TO STAY ORDINARY.
BUT JESUS WILL NOT ABIDE BY OUR WISHES
OR OUR AGENDA.
JESUS WILL ENCOUNTER US WHEN WE LEAST EXPECT IT.
AND MAKE NO MISTAKE,
AN ENCOUNTER WITH JESUS IS GOOD
BUT IT IS NOT SAFE.
JESUS DOES NOT GET INTO THE BOAT WITH US;
HE ROCKS THE BOAT WITH US STILL IN IT.
HE FILLS OUR NETS
SO THAT THE BOAT SEEMS TO BE SINKING.
12Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’
JESUS HAS COME TO WHERE WE ARE.
NOW HE INVITES US TO COME TO WHERE HE IS.
ONE OF MY FAVORITE AUTHORS, VERNA DOZIER,
SAID IN HER BOOK, THE DREAM OF GOD,
“WE ARE NOT CALLED TO WORSHIP JESUS;
WE ARE CALLED TO FOLLOW HIM.”
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WORSHIPPING JESUS AND FOLLOWING HIM?
WORSHIPPING JESUS IS THE EASY PART…
THAT CAN BE DONE IN THE SAFETY OF A BEAUTIFUL SANCTUARY LIKE THIS.
TO FOLLOW JESUS WE MUST GO OUT THOSE DOORS…
INTO A DANGEROUS AND BROKEN WORLD…
THAT’S THE HARD PART.
PERHAPS WE ARE BEING CALLED
TO FOLLOW JESUS
INTO THE ORDINARY,
TO PARTICIPATE IN THE TRANSFORMATION
OF THE ORDINARY
INTO THE HOLY.
PERHAPS WE ARE BEING CALLED
TO COME AND HAVE BREAKFAST WITH JESUS.
PERHAPS WE ARE BEING CALLED
TO BREAK OUR FAST
IN AN ORDINARY
AND HOLY ENCOUNTER
WITH THE LORD OF LIFE,
THE RISEN CHRIST.
I BELIEVE WE ARE BEING SO CALLED.
MY WITNESS THIS MORNING IS THAT
IF WE WILL LISTEN CAREFULLY,
WE WILL HEAR THE RISEN CHRIST CALL OUR NAME
AND WE WILL BE ABLE TO HEAR JESUS INVITE US
TO SPEND OUR ORDINARY MOMENTS WITH HIM.
MY WITNESS TO YOU IS THAT
JESUS DESIRES EACH OF US
TO HELP HIM TRANSFORM OUR ORDINARY LIVES
INTO HOLY LIVES,
LIVES FULL OF HEALING,
LIVES COMPLETED IN FORGIVENESS,
AND LIVES DEDICATED TO FOLLOWING HIM. AMEN.
IF THERE ARE ANY HERE
WHO HAVE NOT ACCEPTED JESUS
AS THEIR PERSONAL LORD AND SAVIOR,
I INVITE YOU TO COME FORWARD
DURING THE SINGING OF HYMN #_________.
PASTOR MCBRIDE AND OTHERS
WILL PRAY WITH YOU HERE AT THE ALTER.
IF YOU HAVE ALREADY MADE A COMMITMENT
BUT WOULD LIKE TO REDEDICATE YOURSELVES
TO FOLLOWING JESUS,
YOU MAY ALSO COME FORWARD TO THE ALTER FOR PRAYER.
AND NOW UNTO GOD THE FATHER,
GOD THE SON,
AND GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT,
BE ASCRIBED ALL MIGHT,
AND FOREVERMORE. AMEN.
The New Jerusalem Bible: Reader’s Edition, (New York: Doubleday.) 1990.