Messy Church this month is today, Wednesday May 11, at 5pm. We will be having a BBQ and will be spending our time together outside (weather permitting). Please bring lawn chairs. There will be a scavenger hunt for the family. May will be our last Messy Church until September.
Breakfast on the Beach
The story takes place after the resurrection of Jesus, after the coming of the Holy Spirit to the disciples, but before Jesus’ ascension into heaven. The disciples have split up and they seem to have gone back to their former lives. Of the remaining eleven (Judas had betrayed Jesus and was no longer with them) seven had returned to Galilee and were once again fishing for a living. It is a long walk from Jerusalem to Galilee, almost 130 km and it is unlikely that this would have been a casual visit.
They had fished all night and caught nothing. A ‘stranger’ on the shore told them to put their nets in on the other side of the boat, which they did and they pulled up the net full of fish. This scenario was identical to the one when Jesus had first called them to follow him and, in repeating the sequence of events, suddenly they recognized Jesus. This seems to be a common theme with the resurrected Jesus. They don’t recognize him until he does something that reminds them of him.
They rush to shore with great joy. Jesus has prepared for them a breakfast of bread and fish over a charcoal fire on the beach. After breakfast, he walks with Peter and he asks him the same question three times, “Peter, do you love me?” Each time Peter replies, “You know that I love you.” Jesus answers him be saying, first feed my lambs, then tend my sheep, and finally feed my sheep. By the third time Peter is hurt by the question being asked yet again. Initially, Peter seems to be oblivious to the significance of what was happening. The last time Peter was gathered around a charcoal fire was outside the headquarters of Pilote, the night Jesus was tried and sentenced to death. Three times Peter denied knowing Jesus around that charcoal fire. Now he was with Jesus around another charcoal fire and three times he spoke of his love for Jesus.
Symbolically Jesus was wiping away the guilt, the shame, the self-recrimination of that denial. Peter was to be the rock upon which the Church was to be built and Jesus knew that guilt and shame can paralyze one. If Peter was to be a leader he had to move forward unencumbered by this guilt and shame. Jesus was offering forgiveness and a way forward. It was a call to ministry, feed my sheep.
Guilt and shame are signs that we acknowledge our mistakes and they serve a good purpose as the first step in moving closer to becoming the person we were created to be. After we have done the best we can to make amends we need to move forward, unencumbered. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus, to bring the good news, to seek justice, to witness to the love of God. The forgiveness that Jesus extended to Peter is also offered to each of us.