Sermons and Thoughts from St. Luke's.
This blog is to share Sermons and thoughts written mostly by the clergy of the Parish Church of St. Luke, an Anglican Church in Burlington, Ontario (Diocese of Niagara) Canada.
It may take a few seconds for the audio to load. Remember, patience is a virtue!
10 April 2016
Easter 3 C 2016
Sermon by the Rev. Canon Stuart Pike
April 10, 2016
at. St. Luke's, Burlington (Niagara)
Acts 9: 1-20
John 21: 1-19
I’m not sure why, but reading the Gospel
lesson surfaced a memory I had of a spoof advertisement which I read many years
ago. Perhaps many of you have read it yourself:
Wanted!! Good woman. Must be able to clean,
cook, sew, dig worms, bait hooks and clean fish. Must have boat & motor.
Please send picture of boat and motor.
The ad speaks of the essence of a born
fisherman. In this instance, it’s a man. It is who he is in his bones and it
directs all his thinking and acting. It is his deepest identity.
Of course, we laugh in this instance
because it is so all-consuming. It also makes him essentially odd. He doesn’t
fit in with the general population. He stands out. And so we laugh. But, along
with the laughter, it might be possible that we recognize a bit about ourselves
in the image as well. Not that we’re so obviously one dimensional in the
persona we display to the world, but that, inside, we have an essential
identity which drives us. Some of us are still getting inklings of what that
identity is about. Some of us know ourselves more. Some of us haven’t a clue
that there’s more to know.
The disciples must have been a confused
collection of people. Their Lord had been crucified, dead and buried, and then
reports of sightings of Jesus started to surface. First of all it was Mary Magdalene who saw
Jesus. Then it was the eleven disciples minus Thomas as they huddled in fear
behind locked doors. Then it was to them a week later when Thomas was with
Still it seems that they are at a loose
end, not knowing what to do. So what do you do when you feel directionless? I
guess most people go back to what they know, and that’s what the disciples do
here. They are fishermen. Peter says, “I’m going fishing.” And the other
disciples there with him say, “Well go too.”
I wonder if it seemed strange to them that,
after all they had been through with Jesus; after having dropped their nets and
left their families, here they were again. Back where they started. Just like
they were before they even met Jesus. Did it feel like regression to them?
So we know the story: They have fished all
night and haven’t caught a thing. Just as the daylight starts there is a figure
on beach. And here’s the interesting part. These men are seasoned fisherman.
They know how it works. They would fish fairly close to the shore among the
shallows, where the fish would school together. They would throw their nets out
over them and then draw the net in, hopefully catching a few of them.
Here’s this stranger telling them how to do
their business! Throw the nets on the others side (the deep side) of the boat.
These men knew there was little chance that they would catch anything by
throwing the nets that way, yet, something directs them to do as this stranger
- who they don’t recognize – suggests and the miraculous happens.
Not only do they catch fish: they catch so
many fish that they are not able to pull the net into the boat, but must tow it
in behind them as they head back to the shore.
Peter, the impetuous, brash one of them,
recognizes that it is Jesus on the shore and, unable to contain himself and
completely disoriented, puts on his clothes before jumping into the sea in his
haste to get to Jesus.
The large number of fish is significant. John
points out that there are 153 of them. Biblical commentators have tried to
interpret what the significance of the number of fish is. Some believe that
there were 153 species of fish that were known to be in the Sea of Galilee of
the time and that the significance might be that the disciples, who are called
to be fishers of people are meant to preach the Gospel to the whole world.
The next part of the Gospel is so important
for Peter. Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves him. Peter is, of course,
very upset by this. All of us would be if someone asked us three times in a
row, if we loved them. But, there is no way to lose the connection here with
Peter’s triple denial of Jesus in the High Priest’s courtyard, and Jesus, three
times, asking Peter if he loves him.
I believe what Jesus is doing here is
reinstating Peter. It was a painful process. It was necessary to remind Peter
of his triple denial, yet Jesus keeps on entrusting to Peter: feed my sheep.
Jesus is returning Peter to his central
identity: a follower of Jesus and one who will look after his sheep. Jesus is
returning to Peter a basic need that we all have: the need to belong.
And the other basic need that Jesus is
giving to Peter is his need for purpose; for a deeper purpose; for a purpose
which is in the service of God. Peter isn’t supposed to just be a fisherman.
Apologies to any hard-core fishermen!
Jesus, in response to each of Peter’s
confessions, gives him work to do: feed my sheep. Be a leader. Look out for
these others. Devote yourself to this community. Peter is reinstated into the
community of the faithful and given a sense of belonging, and then he is given
good work to do and given a purpose.
What about you? What is your deepest
identity? Do you have a secure sense of belonging here? And do you search for a
deeper sense of purpose in your life?
What is it that directs your thoughts and
I truly believe that your deepest identity
is as a follower of Jesus. You truly belong here. And your purpose is to be
involved in bringing others into this community. Everyone is welcome here. All
153 species of fish, in other words all people. I pray that each one of us may
find our deepest purpose through this community and that we will know what joy
is through our belonging here and in fulfilling our purpose. Amen.