Saturday, April 21, 2007

Come And Have Breakfast

22 April 2007 * Easter 3C * John 21: 1-19

The Reverend Kirk Alan Kubicek, Saint Peter’s at Ellicott Mills, Maryland

Come and Have Breakfast

Years ago, when I merely aspired to become a priest in Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, I was at a diocesan camp somewhere in Rhode Island taking some of my final canonical exams, the last of which was New Testament. There would be a written test of an hour or so, and then a one hour “defense” with the Commission on Ministry. The Commission consists of lay people and clergy.

I had anticipated being asked what my favorite Bible verse is. So I was prepared when the question in fact did come up. “Come and have breakfast,” I replied. “No, Mr. Kubicek,” one of the clergy said, “we want to know a verse from the Bible.” Again I replied, “Come and have breakfast.” There was an awkward silence in the room.

Finally one of the clergy asked me, “And just where is that found in the Bible?”

Somewhat puckishly I said with a straight face, “John, chapter 21, verse 12, the third time Jesus was revealed after he rose from the dead, and the lectionary reading for this coming Sunday, the Third Sunday after Easter, Year C.” There were smiles from the lay people on the commission to compliment the somewhat chagrined expressions on the faces of the clergy. I passed my New Testament canonical with great relief.

I have always thought of this chapter of John’s gospel, believed by many to be a later addition to the gospel that seems to end in chapter 20, as a kind of summary of the entire Gospel story. That is, if you can remember this chapter of fishing, breakfast and the after breakfast meeting with Peter, you could probably remember many of the most important elements of the entire gospel – a gospel in which the disciples begin as fishermen and end up fishers of men, women and children. Even the charcoal fire recalls Peter’s three times denial that he knew Jesus.

It is interesting that after seeing the risen Lord Peter says, “I’m going fishing,” and the others tag along. That is, they go back to what they used to do before ever meeting Jesus. They attempt to go back to business as usual.

Along the way they learn that after an encounter with the risen Lord, there is no such thing as business as usual. I believe we still have a problem with this. First off, they are evidently not such good fishermen anymore. They fished all night and didn’t catch any!

But, not to worry, along comes Jesus over on the shore asking if they have any fish. When they say no, he says to put the net on the other side of the boat. Suddenly the net is nearly bursting with fish! One hundred and fifty-three to be exact! Someone says, “It’s the Lord!”

Next comes my favorite part. Peter puts his clothes back on and then jumps into the water! Is he excited or what? Reminds me of the morning after our first daughter, Harper arrived, and I poured myself a glass of milk and put orange juice on my cereal! It’s like Christmas, Easter, Birthday and the Tooth Fairy all rolled into one! Peter is some kind of excited to see Jesus.

When they get to shore the disciples see Jesus has a charcoal fire going with some fish already on the grill and some bread toasting on the side– but they are asked to contribute – make an offering – to the meal. Here we might note, that the meal consists partly of what he had himself prepared, and partly what they – we – bring to the table. This is the heart of the meal we come to share each week: The Lord refreshes us for his service by a gift partly derived from him, in part the fruit of our labor under his direction. We may wish to reflect on the “under his direction” clause and its importance to a life in and with Christ. Do we allow ourselves to be directed by Jesus?

For in the end it is all his gift – for the whole fruit of our labor is His, not our own, and we only enjoy it rightly or fully when we accept it as a gift from him. Moral and spiritual progress only comes as we come to acknowledge life as a gift.

Then comes time to restore a relationship – Jesus and Peter reconcile things after the unfortunate incident around the last charcoal fire. Three times Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?” Three times Peter says, “Yes, Lord, I love you.” And Jesus replies, “Feed my lambs, tend my sheep, feed my sheep.” This is the same Lord who says, I am the good shepherd and I have sheep not in this flock who are mine also.

After all this, Jesus repeats the very first thing he said to the disciples way back when he first met them – Follow me. Talk about a Power Breakfast!

So why do we come to have breakfast with Jesus week after week after week?

In part so that we might join our gifts with his so we can learn what it means to follow him. Evidently he needs our gifts as much as we need His.

We also come so that we might learn to acknowledge life as a gift. So that we might get on with the task of Love to which he calls us like Peter – to tend to the needs of others – all others.

This story is evidence of God’s great love for us so that we might bring that love to others. This is a story about how our love of God in Christ is meant to lead us to love, tend and feed others. Or, as we say at Saint Peter’s – to become bread for the journey, feeding, healing and reaching out with Christ.

Come and have breakfast, says Jesus. You will be glad you did.


No comments:

Post a Comment