Big Hiccups

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Easter 3, 2016 (Year C)

Psalm                          Psalm: 30  
First Reading:               Acts 9:1-6                                                       
Second Reading:          Rev 5:11-14                                                   
Gospel:                                    John 21:1-19                                                   

What I want to say:
to retell the story of the Gospel in a way that invites people into the story to hear Jesus words to them
What I want to happen:
For people to notice their shadows and to be healed, restored.

The Sermon

     1.      Introduction:

So there is Peter
In the room with Jesus
and Thomas
and the others.
            who he, Peter
                        had followed for three long years
            who had called him a rock.
            who he
                        had loudly denied having any kind of relationship with
                        just a few short days ago
            who had been hung on a cross by the Romans
And while all that was going down
            had three times denied having anything to do with him
            had denied that he was a follower of his
            had denied his calling as a disciple
            had pretended that those three years had not happened
And now
in the midst of his shame
is Jesus
And he, Peter,
             is not alone
none of the boys had done that well really
he at least had gone with Jesus
most had run and hid
and while he hung on that cross
            they had all hid
            in this room
            behind those locked doors.
their shame hung in the room
as Jesus stood in their midst
“Peace to you”.

     2.      Broken threads

It was all good Jesus being alive and all
but three times
three times
he Peter had denied being Peter the disciple
three times he had renounced that call
It was all good Jesus being alive and all
but that relationship was done
that path closed
it was time to go home
to reclaim his past life
to be once again
Peter the fisherman
Peter the disciple
            Peter the rock
            died at that fire.
and there was no way back

     3.      Fishing

So home he goes
fleeing from Romans and Temple guards
from gnawing fear
            and living behind locked doors
back home
to relative safety
and the hard uncertain life of a fisherman
not quite where he thought this was heading
            as they paraded
            into Jerusalem
            not so many days before
            back to a life he thought
            he had long cast away
And others came with him
            James and John
            even Thomas
            and some others
It was all good Jesus being alive and all
But their shame hung there
locking them out of all they had had together
preventing them ever being
            his disciples once again.
They had let him down
they had let themselves down
had betrayed themselves
as they hid in their room
the doors tightly locked.
It was best to go home
with Peter
So here they are
            all night
catching nothing
no-one is happy about this.

     4.      A Man

Caught anything?
the man stands on the beach calling
Caught anything?
No. It’s been a bad night
Try the other side
Try the other side!
            Like we haven’t tried that already
And they do
try the other side
            cast out
            hauling in
this time the boat lurches
            and the net stays in
they haul and drag
exhausted after their night of nothing
I think it is the Lord
I think it is the Lord
the guy on the beach
Peter looks up through tired sweaty eyes
is it?
yes it is
you can’t go to your rabbi naked
that is worse than denying you are a disciple
and then in he goes
hauling himself ashore
as he hears the sound of his friends
paddling the boat behind
hauling in the fish
they pant their way up the beach
to the fire
            cooking fish and bread
to the man
Is it him?
“Bring some of the fish you've just caught”
Peter goes back to the net
so full with so many fish
who could count that many?
they share their fish
            and wait
“It is done
Come and have breakfast.”
he invites them to the meal
Is it he?
No-one asks
all hope
“Come and have breakfast.”
he invites them
he eats with them
he honours them
he restores them
as they eat together
they are blessed
is it possible
might they be
            once more?

     5.      That conversation

for Peter the shadow remains
shame rests heavily upon him
no meal can change that
“Simon, son of John
            my love for you is so great
            it cannot be measured
            do you love me more than these?"
            "Yes, Master, you know I love you. You are like an brother to me!"
            "Feed my lambs."
Then again
“Simon, son of John
            my love for you is so great
            it cannot be measured
            do you love me?"
 "Yes, Master, you know I love you. You are like an older brother to me!"
            "Shepherd my sheep."
That is the shame
right there in these questions
            he tried to follow no matter the cost
            he had tried to love
                        with a love that cannot be measured
            but at that fire
            Peter learnt he could not
            no matter how hard he desired it
            desired it
                        he thought
                        with all his being
            when the time came
                        his love was limited
                        his discipleship was limited
                        his following had limits
            and those limits hurt
            each meeting those limits hurts
            the shadow remains
a third time: "Simon, son of John, you are my brother.
            do you love me?"
how long must he endure this humiliation
there are limits to his love
he is shamed that Jesus asks a third time, "Do you love me?"
"Master, you know everything there is to know.
You've got to know that I love you.
And you have got to know that love has limits!"
"Feed my sheep.”
Peter stops
            in his hurt
            his grief
            his shame
the world stops
as Peter realises
He loves him despite the limits
maybe because of the limits
and still he invites him home
to himself
the rash headstrong
Peter the disciple
Peter the Rock
It is too much to bear
            to be restored
they are all restored
their darkness is shredded
and they are able to go home

      6.      Our darkness is shredded

We join Peter the shamed
James and John
Thomas and the others
on that boat
around the fire
eating that morning fare
We bring our shame
            our pain
            our regrets
As we hear this story
Our shadows hover
as we gather with them at this meal
this meal we are about to have
Jesus turns to us
            “I love you with a love that cannot be measured
            a love that will not stop
            despite all you do to being shame on yourself
            because of all that you do to bring shame on yourself.
I love you with a love that cannot be measured
Do you love me?”
"Then feed my sheep.”

Let us be with those who gather
and hear again these words of life.
Bring your shame
and like Peter and the others
be restored
to who you truly are


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