Saturday, April 17, 2010

Come and Have Breakfast

18 April 2010/Easter 3C – John 21:1-19
The Reverend Kirk Alan Kubicek, St. Peter’s at Ellicott Mills, Maryland

Come and Have Breakfast

This is probably my favorite story about Jesus. Partly because it helped me to get through all the “hoops” to ordination. When asked during an oral exam what my favorite New Testament Bible Verse was I said, without hesitation, “Come and have breakfast!”

One of the priests on the commission doubted that this was in the Bible and asked where it could be found. I replied, “John 21:12 – it is appointed in the Lectionary for the Third Sunday of Easter, which is next week!” And bingo! Here I am!

It is an amazing story. Even after Jesus had appeared alive from the dead two times, the disciples don’t know what to do. So they go back to what they did before meeting Jesus: fishing. Only it seems they are no longer so good at that, having been called by Jesus to move on to other things, like fishing for people!

I have long had a theory about this chapter of John’s Gospel: if you only know this story of Jesus’ third resurrection appearance, you could remember much of the whole Gospel narrative. The details of this story remind us of earlier parts of the story.

For instance, the boys are out fishing on the Sea of Galilee, and we know Jesus is from Galilee originally. When he first looked for disciples, he found a group of fishermen in Galilee. He promised to teach them to do something else, something new, something God needed to be done: fish for people. Throughout the gospel stories the disciples often do not succeed at much until Jesus directs them to try new ways of doing things. The charcoal fire reminds us of the Passion Narrative, when people outside the High Priest’s home are warming themselves by a charcoal fire. Peter is standing by this charcoal fire when he denies knowing Jesus three times – which is recalled by the Risen Lord now asking him three times, “Do you love me?” Bread and fish cooking on the Lord’s fire recalls the feeding of the 5,000, which in turn reminds us of the Last Supper. And the success of the feeding of the 5,000 can be said to be the result of an ordinary lad like any of us sharing what he had with everyone else – adding what he had to what Jesus had to offer.

Which is why we come here every Sunday. Jesus is always here. Inside the Tabernacle, day and night, his Body and Blood, his real presence, is in this place. The Sanctuary Lamp overhead reminds us he is here, which calls us to act and behave in a certain way when we are here.

He is our Host, ready to give us daily bread, bread for the journey. He invites us to bring the best of whatever we have to offer him, to praise God, to thank God for all that we are and all that we have.

For centuries, people have come to the Altar of the Lord to offer their gifts – their best wheat and grain, their best oil, their best wine, their best lambs and goats and sheep – the first and best of all they have. Not expecting anything in return, but rather to give thanks for all that we are and all that we have already.

Our story today suggests that Jesus needs us. He needs us to help take care of all the people he loves – which, as it turns out, is everyone – all people everywhere. He needs us to love them too.

In the Bible such love means doing something helpful for someone else – making life a little better, a little easier, for them. Jesus says to Peter, and to all of us, bring what you have, add it to mine, and we can love all people everywhere. Together we can make the world a better place.

This will mean taking care of the Earth and the Seas so that we can grow more grain and catch more fish! Loving people means loving the Earth and Seas God has given us to sustain us.

John chapter 21 is an amazing story – it contains the whole story of the Good News of Jesus Christ the Son of God, and reminds us of our mission, to Feed His Lambs, Tend His Sheep, and Feed His Sheep – that is take care of all of His people, which ends up being All People.

Here is a song I learned from one of the original Fisherfolk, Patricia Beall Gavigan, that kind of sums it all up:

Peter and James and John on a sailboat
Out on the deep blue sea
They fished all night but didn’t catch any
Out on the deep blue sea
Along came Jesus over on the shore
Out on the deep blue sea
He said throw your nets over on the other side
Out on the deep blue sea
The net was filled with very many fishes
Out on the deep blue sea
Jesus says to us Come and Have Breakfast
Out on the deep blue sea
Bring what you have and add it to mine
Out on the deep blue sea
Together we can care for the people of the world
Out on the deep blue sea
The moral of the story is listen to the Lord
Out on the deep blue sea

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