Third Sunday of Easter – Sunday, May 5, 2019

May 5, 2019  

John 21:1-19

As I told our young people, we have —the Church has a Church Calendar that we structure our worship services around.  There are seasons, much like nature’s four seasons, only the Church has more.

Who cares? Me.  Maybe the people on Altar Guild who have to know the season each Sunday in order to have the right colored paraments up.  Maybe our musicians as they plan for services.  Maybe Deb and Gary Wold because they hang our banners.  I’m not sure anybody else cares a whole lot, unless they are seminary trained and/or retired pastors.

Christian people are more inclined to care about the big Sundays:  Christmas, Easter.  The rest? Professional church people call it adiaphora.
Wikipedia defines adiaphora two waysIn the context of Stoicism “adiaphora” is usually translated as “indifferents.”  In Christianity, “adiaphora” are known as matters not regarded as essential to faith.

Yet our worship takes its shape around the seasons.
For example:  we are now in the season of Easter.  Socially, Easter is over—way over.  It ended the evening of the day it began.
I remember visiting a friend the week after Easter, years ago.  She lived in southern Illinois.  As I drove down a street in Springfield, I was stopped in traffic behind a garbage truck.  It was one of the old fashioned trucks that garbage collectors filled by manually picking up our full cans and tipping the trash out of the cans into the back of the truck.  Then the driver would pull a lever and a compactor would slide down, squishing the trash into the belly of the truck.

As I sat in my car behind the garbage truck, I could see the trash that squished out the sides of the compactor.  The trash was unusually pretty.  It was colorful.  There was a lot of shiny green plastic grass in it.  Easter basket grass.  Clearly, Easter was over.

Last week I checked out the post-Easter going out of business sale at Shopko.  There was a lot of Easter candy for sale.  And grass.  And baskets.  Because Easter is over.

And yet, according to our Church calendar, today is the Third Sunday of Easter, or more commonly known, Easter 3.
Our gospel reading tells John’s story of Jesus’ third post-resurrection appearance to his disciples.

The disciples were gathered.  They didn’t seem to know what to do.  So Peter announced “I’m going fishing” (John 21:3).  Then a few other disciples decided to join him.

Scholars believe this story was an editorial addition to John’s gospel written long after the rest of the story.  That makes this story similar to a P.S. at the end of a letter written to someone. P.S. I love you. P.S. Don’t forget to tell grandma thank you for the birthday present. P.S. Post Script. I forgot to say this so let me say it now.

This reading is the gospel of John’s P.S.
P.S. Gone fishing.

The disciples had followed Jesus for years.  Then Jesus was arrested.  Then Peter denied he ever followed Jesus.  Then Jesus was hung on a cross and he died.  Then Jesus was buried.
Then Peter went to the tomb Jesus was buried in and the body of Jesus was gone.  Then the resurrected Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, telling her to tell the others she had seen him.  Then Jesus appeared to the disciples as they sat in a locked room, afraid.  Then Jesus breathed on them:  Receive the Holy Spirit.  Then, a week later, Jesus appeared again while the disciples were locked in a closed room.

Then some of the disciples went fishing.
And they caught nothing.

Peter and the other disciples caught nothing.  They hauled in empty net after empty net, all night.
At daybreak, they saw a man on shore who told them to cast their net to the right side of the boat.  Did the man mean the “right” side of the boat as in not on the left? Or did he mean the correct side? Either way, they threw the net in and could not haul it in, it was so full of fish.  Which is when Peter realized the man on shore was Jesus.  Which is when Peter jumped in the lake.

Peter was so happy to see Jesus Peter jumped in the lake to swim to him.

Most of the time we as followers of Jesus live in the adiaphora.  We live in the days of “indifferents.” These days aren’t “essential to faith.”  And yet.

And yet—there stands Jesus.  In the middle of our indifference.  Wanting to be more than a P.S.  Do we see him?

Jesus is there.  We decide where.  We decide whether he stands at the center of our lives or if we are going to leave him standing in the margins.
Do we make room for him? Do we value his presence?

Our gospel story tells us our lives will be empty without Jesus.  I don’t believe that is true.  But I do believe his presence fills our lives in a unique way.  His presence fills us with a unique, incredible saving love.
When Jesus is at the center of our lives he brings to us a love that overflows.  There is enough love for us to have; there is enough for us to share with family; there is enough love for us to share with the world.  Thanks be to God!
Amen.