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Third Sunday of Easter 2022

John 21:1-19 1 Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. 2 Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 4 Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” 6 He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. 7 That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off. 9 When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. 15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” Simon Peter said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 A second time Jesus said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 Jesus said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to Jesus, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” 19 (Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God.) After this Jesus said to him, “Follow me.”   ————————   Please pray with me this morning, church: Risen and living God, When we find our ways frustrated, call us to try a new way. When our spirits are dried up and weary, fill us with good things. Call us again this morning. Remind us of your call on our lives. Amen.   ————————   I spent this past week down in Rockport, taking a little break with my family, enjoying some time off and trying to rest a little bit. The beach is just one place that we enjoy for some time away. But especially after the lengthy pilgrimage through Lent and the marathon of Holy Week and Easter, some time to fill myself back up and spending some quality uninterrupted time with my people is needed.   One of my colleagues recently quipped, “Why is it that when we talk about God’s desire or God’s call or our call as disciples that it’s always that God wants us to ‘do’ something? Why is no one telling me that God might want me to rest?”   I’ve been reflecting on that this week, thinking about where I am, where we are as a community of faith, and where God might be calling us next. And while there’s certainly work to be done, there has to be an appropriate rhythm between production and rest. Amen? You’ve probably heard it popularly expressed something like, you can’t pour into others from an empty cup. Church, how are you filling yourself up so that you can be for others what they need?   “Come, have breakfast,” Jesus says.   My man… I’m a sucker for breakfast.   The post-resurrection gospels are some of my favorites, and especially after I switched up our gospel reading last week, I feel like we’re getting some of what I personally feel are the greatest hits this year. Road to Emmaus last week, and brunch on the beach this week, plus we always get Good Shepherd Sunday on Easter 4 next week. It’s all really good stuff. I love them because post-resurrection Jesus doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously. Last week, I imagined Jesus sort of playing along with the disciples’ disbelieving as they were on the way to Emmaus—“Are you the only one who hasn’t heard…?” “No! What things?!” To a totally chill and relaxed vibe this morning—lounging on the beach, grilling some fish, eating some brunch, “Come and have some breakfast…” Yeah, Jesus…this is totally my speed.   Contrary to what I feel like we’ve all been taught and the stew in which we’re all swimming, we can’t “go-go-go” 100% of the time. You are so much more than your output, dear people. We must have a balance between our doing and our resting. Even fields need seasons to be fallow if they hope to produce good and abundant harvests well into the future. Did you know that if you only tried to grow things in a field all of the time, the crop would use up all of the nutrients in the soil and eventually the crops would dry up and wither away? Giving fields seasons to rest allows the soil to replenish nutrients that are drawn away by the crops and allows those fields to continue feeding their harvest for years and years and years. Are you with me? Rest is necessary. In fact, it’s commanded. I think we forget that.   Tricia Hersey, known as the Nap Bishop, founded the Nap Ministry in 2016. She advocates rest as resistance. Amidst all the hustle and grind culture, and the pervasive attitudes of “go-go-go”, packed schedules, and calendars calibrated to the quarter-hour, the idea of slowing down is a revolutionary and counter-cultural one. She says, “As a Black woman in America, rest is a tool for liberation and healing…It’s about more than naps. It’s not about fluffy pillows, expensive sheets, silk sleep masks, or any other external, frivolous, consumerist gimmick. It is about a deep unraveling from violent and evil systems. Rest pushes back and disrupts a system that views human bodies as a tool for production and labor. It is a counter narrative. We know that we are not machines. We are divine.” Think about it, church, when was the last time someone told you to take a break? Not as something you earn, but as something you are inherently worthy of. Rest as righteous and holy protest against the powers and principalities, the empires that constantly tell you you are nothing more than your production. Opt out of the rat race, dear children. Because this is not a race and you are not rats. You are divine. Even God rested. Not as reward, but because it is necessary.   There is a rhythm to rest and production. Just as we can’t go-go-go 100% of the time, neither are we free to sit back on our laurels and do nothing at all all the time. The poet in Ecclesiastes reminds us, “To everything there is a season.” Just as the season of Lent journeys us toward the cross, and with purpose, the season of Easter journeys us to Ascension Sunday and Pentecost, the birth of the church, when the Holy Spirit moves mightily and propels us out from the doors we lock ourselves behind. The mission continues, the work goes on, the call to discipleship that God has placed on your life moves forward.   And the call, mission, and ministry is what it always has been: love the people. Love them. As easy…and as difficult…as that.   Lord knows it isn’t always easy. But when we find our way or our path frustrated, perhaps God is calling us to try a new way. Like the disciples who had fished all night, Jesus told them to simply try the other side of the boat, and they found what you’ve heard from this pulpit countless times, that God is a God of abundance. What new direction is God calling you this morning? What new direction is God calling New Hope? We just have to be attentive and responsive to God’s call.   Paul receives this call on his way to Damascus…turned from zealous persecutor to prolific disciple. Peter gets this call from Jesus on the beach. Three times Jesus presses Peter. Peter is essentially given the opportunity to undo what he had done just a week before, and the author of John is being extremely poetic in doing so. After Jesus’ arrest in the garden, Peter and another disciple go with Jesus to the courtyard of the high priest. Peter finds himself beside a charcoal fire, denying Jesus three times. This morning, on the beach, Peter once again finds himself beside a charcoal fire, and Jesus asking him three times, “Do you love me?” A three-fold denial…a three-fold affirmation of love. These questions are much more for Peter’s sake than Jesus’. Peter finds himself in the abundance of God’s mercy and compassion.   I won’t spend time this morning with the Greek words, because that’s not what this sermon is about, but ask me sometime about the words Jesus uses for love and the words Peter responds with. It’s a fascinating study. But suffice it to say, the call on your life, dear disciple, is to love. To feed lambs, to tend sheep, to feed sheep. Your call is to love.   A lot of times that call will find you standing alongside the oppressed and the vulnerable, advocating for fair systems, and taking on the many injustices in the world. That will always be true. Sometimes loving others will find you taking some moments to restore yourself, to renew your own spirit. Because you can’t pour into others from an empty cup.   Make time and find opportunities to rest and restore, church. Take moments to fill yourself up so you can be for others what they need. Come. Have brunch. Come. Be nourished at God’s table of grace. Take delight and rest in God’s abundance for you, dear child. Receive God’s love for you, that you would be God’s love for the world.  
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