To hear the Sermon (https://soundcloud.com/tigerowl/easter3) There is one joke that I did not use last week. It has to do directly with the gospel lesson for today, which is probably why I stuck it in the not to use yet file. I have never figured out why it was appropriate for the disciples to return to their previous occupations. We have gone through the empty tomb. We have seen the witness of the women who went to do the final burial process. We have heard about the two people on the road to Emmaus, who shared their knowledge of the crucifixion. In seeing Jesus, they didn’t walk back to Jerusalem, they ran. We have seen Jesus meet with the disciples in a locked room. We have heard of him appearing again to Thomas to give him a personal experience with the holes in the hands and in the side of Jesus.
Somehow after all this secondary training of what it means to be a disciple many readers of scripture, preachers in churches and members in the pews cannot figure out why the disciples are not out sharing the Gospel. Instead, they went fishing… Now here is where the joke diverges from the Biblical story…
It seems that Peter really wasn’t naked. He did have on a fishing smock. It sort of like a Scotsman in a kilt, there was limited or no underwear underneath the smock. When he spotted Jesus on the shore he was a bit embarrassed that he didn’t have on appropriate clothing, so he dove into the water to cover up his lack of clothing. That’s when Jesus said, you don’t have to swim into me, I’ll come out to you and he began one of his usual strolls out the boat walking on the water. Suddenly Jesus begins to sink, and Peter the strong swimmer strokes over to Jesus and hauls him to shore and drags him up on the beach. As they both catch their breath, Peter says to Jesus, “You must have forgotten that you now have holes in your feet.”
Even without the joke, one still wonders about fishing for fish rather than fishing for people. It may be easy to explain and say that they did go back to the one thing that they knew well, fishing. Yet to haul in a catch of 153 fish, this is not something that one fisherman can do alone. This kind of activity takes team work. The disciples have been functioning as a team. In many ways the breakfast feast of fish was a team meal, where they recognized that they would need each other to fulfill the work ahead of them and near the end of the meal, Jesus addresses the disciples one more time. But this time he is quite specific in what their assignments are to be.
"Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" Jesus said to Peter, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you," was his response. Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs." Now the rest of the disciples who were fishing were still gathered around that breakfast fire. They heard the exchange and the expectation to continue the ministry. The Jesus asks a second time, "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." This team of disciples has already been charged with going into all the world to share the Good News of Jesus as the Messiah. Yet once more, Jesus asks Simon Peter on behalf of all of the disciples, "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 him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.
Every time I walk through the front door of this church, I think of the request of Jesus to the disciples. The feeding of the sheep was not limited to the Middle East. The feeding of the sheep was not limited to Europe. The feeding of the sheep includes the African continent of the North, the Central portion and the Southern portion of the African continent. Feeding the sheep moved to the East and to North America. Feeding the sheep has covered Central America, the Caribbean, and South America.
When we look around this congregation, we are the fruits of the team work that began with those disciples who knew what team work was from their work, not only on the fishing boats, but in the walking, talking, and healing that occurred in their journeys with Jesus. Even today, when we teach new member classes, it is a team from this congregation that introduces the ministries of this congregation to every person who seeks to walk in the path that Jesus has laid out in front of us. It is not just the pastor but there is a significant number of other disciples who are ready to walk together to feed God’s lambs.
This year the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is celebrating its 25th anniversary as a church body. From its very beginning it has said that the desire of the church as a body is to reflect the entire population of this country. That is why there is an African Descent Lutheran Association. There are other Associations to which members of this congregation might find support, they include the Association of Lutherans of Arab and Middle Eastern Heritage, the Latino Lutheran Association, the American Indian and Alaska Native Lutheran Association, the Association of Asian and Pacific Islander-ELCA, and the European American Lutheran Association. Within this congregation, we could be extremely well represented in nearly all the associations.
Maybe that is why we have continuously called this place Christ Lutheran Community Church, for we continue to reflect the community gathered around this building. We reflect the ministries that serve the surrounding community; we still seem to be answering the command of Jesus to Feed his sheep, feed His lambs, and to tend his Sheep. May that continue to be the mission of all who gather here with God’s Blessing. AMEN.