may 17th, 2020 – follow me

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

God all loving and all caring,
     we come before you with hesitant steps
   and uncertain motives.
 
We ask for courage to open our eyes
     and unstop our ears,
   that we may be aware
     of all that distracts us from
  whole hearted commitment to Christ.
 
We want to see ourselves as you do
   and live our lives as you intended.
 
Expose in us the empty and barren places
   where we have not allowed you to enter.
 
Reveal to us where we have been indifferent
   to the pain and suffering of others.
 
We want to sweep out the corners
     where sin has accumulated
  and uncover the places 
      where we have strayed from truth.
 
Create in us a clean heart, O God,
   and put a right spirit within us.
 
Nurture the faint stirrings of new life
     where your spirit has taken root
   and begun to grow.
 
We long for your healing light to transform us,
   for you alone can make us whole.
 
In your mercy shine upon us, O God,
   and make our path clear before us.
 
Amen
Baptist Union of Great Britain
 
Everything We Need (click here for audio link)
 
In the morning Lord we do look to You
     for the strength we need just to make it through
Have mercy
 
In the evening Lord we look back and say
     it was in Your strength that we made our way
Have mercy
 
You are everything we need
     feed us Lord
You are everything we need
     feed us Lord
Gord Johnson

After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
 
“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”
 
“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.
 
Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
 
“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”
 
“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.
 
A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
 
Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”
 
Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.
 
“I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”
 
Peter turned around and saw the disciple John following them. Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”
 
Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.”
            John 21:15-23
 

 
Holy, holy, holy
     is the Lord almighty
Glory to the Father
     amen

Holy, holy, holy
                   All praise to God
     is the Lord almighty
                          the Trinity
Glory to the Father
     amen
 
Hallelujah, hallelujah
     hallelujah, hallelujah

 

Holy, holy, holy
     is the Lord almighty
Glory to the Father

     amen

 
Hallelujah, hallelujah
     hallelujah, hallelujah
John Arndt
David Gungor

Hey everyone – it’s good to be with through the technology of waves and wires. 
 
Just before we get into the reflection I want to tell you about our ministry highlight.
 
This month we have been highlighting our church’s ministry partners.  We’ve asked each of them to send us an update, including ways that we can best support them at this time.  So today we are highlighting The Quest at Christopher Lake, which is our summer camp.  Dyan Mouland is the new camp director and the link to access her update is just below the link for this liturgy.  If you would like to hear it now, just pause this, click the link and you can have a listen. 

 

If you’re counting, it’s the sixth Sunday of Easter Celebration. During this season we are spending time in the Gospel accounts of the resurrection, reflecting on and trying to better understand the implications of the resurrection of Jesus.  A couple of weeks ago we started the story of Jesus appearing to his disciples on the shore of Lake Tiberius, also known as the Sea of Galilee, and cooking breakfast for them.  This week I thought we’d come back to the story.

 

So just a quick refresher to help get us back into the setting of the story.  It’s post-resurrection and Jesus has been remarkably absent.  The disciples seem to spend much of their time hiding behind locked doors sifting through the stories and rumours about Jesus’s resurrection from the dead.  They have all seen Jesus at least once. He told them to wait in the city until they received power from on high.  Of course we know that ‘power from on high’ is code for the Holy Spirit but I don’t think the disciples understood that.  And so they waited, and waited, but nothing seemed to happen – just more silence, and dead space, and isolation, and absence of Jesus.

 

So Peter announces that he is going to go fishing. Several others decide to tag along with him and the group of them fish all through the night without catching anything.  As the first light of morning breaks, a man on the beach calls out to the disciples in the boat asking them how the fishing was going.  Of course we know that the man calling out is Jesus but the disciples don’t recognize him.

 

They yell back that they haven’t caught anything.

 

So Jesus hollers back for them to throw the net on the other side of the boat.  The disciples pull in their nets and throw them on the other side of the boat.  Immediately their nets are filled with fish.  When this happens John immediately recognizes that the man on the shore is Jesus.  He says to Peter, ‘It’s Jesus!’  As fast as he can, Peter jumps in the water to swim for shore.  The others in the boat follow behind hauling the giant catch of fish.  When everyone got to shore they found that Jesus had a meal set out for them and he invites them to eat breakfast. The text says that ‘no one dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they all knew it was Jesus.

 

I’ve been trying to imagine what the meal would have been like.  I could go with quiet, like a holy reverence. Or I could also see it as a breakfast filled with conversation – the disciples being so filled with joy to see Jesus again and so happy to be able to spend time with him again that they wouldn’t have been able to stay quiet.  I think it also had potential to have been a really awkward meal – like there was unfinished business between Peter and Jesus and so things felt heavy.  Although I admit that has more to do with being able to read backwards into the story.  Remember at this point, Peter has already seen Jesus twice and there had been no mention made.  The truth is we don’t know.  What’s important is that everyone in the story knows that they are in the presence of Jesus who has risen from the dead.

 

After breakfast, as things seem to be winding down, Jesus invites Peter to go for a walk.  And as they are walking Jesus asks Peter if he loves him more than these. 

 

So this is an interesting question.  There is debate as to what Jesus is referring to when he asks Peter if he loves him more than these.  There are some who feel that Jesus is making reference to the disciples.  This is based on Peter’s declaration, along with the other disciples, that even if everyone disowns Jesus, he never will.  As well, as we are going to see, Jesus asks Peter the same question three times which seems to reference Peter’s denying Jesus three times.  There are others who suggest that Jesus is asking Peter if he loves him more than the fish that they have caught – the implication being that Jesus is asking Peter if he loves him more than his vocation fishing.

 

I tend to gravitate to the second interpretation but not in an ‘over and against’ way.  I think there is merit to both suggestions and perhaps Jesus asks both of these in his conversation with Peter.  Brendon is going to be teaching on this passage next week so you can tune in to hear his take on the question.  (hint, hint)

 

In the flow of the story it seems to me that Peter went fishing because is at some level he had given up on the resurrection.  Not that he would disagree with the premise that Jesus had rose from the dead – he had seen Jesus. But it seems that Peter had given up on the idea that anything was going to change as a result of the resurrection. Jesus was absent, the thing Jesus had told them to wait for hadn’t come, and increasingly all they had was silence and doubt.  Peter seems to have gotten to a point where he just couldn’t take the silence and sitting and waiting and the ‘nothingness’ any more.   I think fishing was a back up plan – that Peter was returning to fishing because he had come to the conclusion that it was time to get back to a making a living.

 

So, back to the question.  I don’t imagine this exchange as Jesus scolding Peter.  I hear it as quiet, earnest, and with so much gravity.  Jesus asks Peter, ‘Do you love me more than these?’  I think he is asking Peter if Peter loves him more than his vocation of fishing.  The nuance of the question being Jesus asking, ‘Hey Peter do you love me enough to leave what is familiar, safe, maybe even lucrative and follow after me, giving your life to the work that I have begun?’
 
In the account Peter answers,  ‘Yes, Lord Jesus, you know I love you.’
 
To which Jesus replies, ‘then feed my sheep.’ (Which is Jesus saying to Peter, ‘then take care for everyone I love – guide, guard, nourish, and shepherd them.’)
 
This happens three times.  After the third time of Jesus asking Peter if he loves him Peter’s feelings are hurt.  It’s painful to Peter I suspect because it would definitely bring to mind that he had Jesus denied three times, but it was also have been hard for Peter to think that Jesus didn’t believe him.  Peter exclaims, ‘Jesus you know all things, so you know that I love you!’
 
Then Jesus lays out for Peter what loving him will cost.  He says I want you to look after things for me but know that it will you cost you your life.’  And then it almost seems like Jesus asks, ‘Will you follow me?’ because there seems to be a pause in the conversation. 
 
It seems like Peter takes a second to take it all in and to consider what Jesus lays out for him. In his head Peter is replaying all of this.  Jesus wants me to follow him, he wants me to continue his work, he wants me to care for and look after his followers but it’s going to cost me my life.  And then Peter looks around, almost as if he’s wondering if he is going to have some company in all of this because he sees John walking behind them and says to Jesus, ‘Well, what about him?’ 
 
So classic.  More like me than I care to admit.  Yes, Jesus I hear what you are saying.  You want me to follow after you and if I do I am going to lose my life.  Hmm.  I’m not sure I’m all in on that.  What about them over there?  Do they have to do the same?  Is there a better offer?  Or maybe, I’ll follow it if they have they have to come to.    
 
Jesus doesn’t seem to be phased by the question.  He doesn’t tell Peter off.  He simply says, ‘Hey Peter, I have things for him to do as well.  But my question for you is will you follow after me?  I am the Good Shepherd that doesn’t want to lose even one lamb.  Will follow me in that work even if it costs you your life?’
 
I think part of what Jesus is doing is helping Peter that resurrection living lies in ‘feeding His sheep.’  In other words, in resurrection all things were made new but now Jesus needed Peter, and the disciples, and followers, and us to love and care (to feed) for people and help them (sheep) to understand what Jesus has done and wants to see unfold in their lives. 
 
Like Jesus saying to us, ‘To love me is participate in the work of all things being made new.’ and then asking us, ‘Will you follow?

 

To follow sometimes is a tricky question.  We often want to know everything first.  Why should we follow?  How far do we have to go?  What will we get for our trouble?  Where will following take us, like where are we going?  What’s at the end?

 

And following Jesus is an ‘all-in’ kind of following.  That as we follow Jesus it becomes apparent that the following is not passive.  The ‘follow me’ is not just walking beside or watching from afar.  It’s not like following on Facebook or Twitter.  The invitation to follow Jesus is about him establishing his presence in our lives.  Not just in our grand vision statements but in how we live.  How we organize our time, energy, and resources.  It’s about giving to people the same thing we receive from Jesus.
 
One of the things that is important to be reminded of is that even in the hard places that following Jesus may take us, he has promised to be there with us, and not only that, where he asks us to follow he has already been. 

 

I like Peter.  He doesn’t always get things right.  There were moments when he denied Jesus, there were moments when he compared himself to others, there were times where he caved to cultural pressure, there were times when he thought he failed at things.  But in getting to know Peter we are reminded that the love of Jesus meets us in all of those places too. In the same way it did for Peter the love of Jesus carries us, reorients us, heals us, forgives us, empowers us, and holds us. 

 

To follow Jesus is to embrace His love, to tell his story, and to be directed by His Spirit regardless of where it may lead.  May we lean into the love of Jesus and let it fill us, direct us, and guide us.  In simple form, following Jesus is found in love.  Love for Jesus and love for people.  So in this coming week it’s my prayer that we can find ways to receive love from Jesus and be love on behalf of Jesus.  Amen.
 
 
Your Love Remains (click here for audio link)

 

Through the darkness, through the fire
     through my wicked heart’s desire
Your love remains, Your love remains
 
Though I stumble, though I falter
     through my weakness  You are strong
Your love remains, Your love remains
    
Oh my, my soul it cries
     oh my, my soul it cries out
Soul it cries out, soul it cries, it cries out
   
Through my failure, through my heartache
     through my healing, in my pain
Your love remains, Your love remains
 
Though I stumble, though I falter
     through my weakness  You are strong
Your love remains, Your love remains
 
Oh my, my soul it cries
     oh my, my soul it cries out
Soul it cries out, soul it cries, it cries out
John Arndt
David Gungor

Let us pray together:
 
From where we are
to where you need us,
Jesus, now lead on.
 
From the security of what we know
to the adventure of what you will reveal,
Jesus, now lead on.
 
To mend the fabric of this world
until it is refashioned into the shape of your kingdom,
Jesus, now lead on.

 

From where we are
to where you need us,
Jesus, now lead on.
 
Amen

Baptist Union of Great Britain

 


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