It is Easter. But the big service and celebration happened a couple of Sundays ago. We may find that we are back to living life as before, with the same routines, and the feeling of holiday joy slipping away. The reality of war, the news feeds, and the uncertainty come clamoring in to dull our spirits.
But the promise of Easter is not just for one day or for a season. It is something for us to build on as a “way of life.” Life is made new. As the trees and flowers begin to bloom we are already unconsciously aware that “life is made new” after a winter of dormancy.
As our collect says, “Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold God in all his redeeming work”
In our story this week, Peter and some of the disciples have gathered in Galilee and are back to their work of fishing. After the crucifixion and even after two encounters with the risen Jesus they have returned to “business as usual.” However, even while casting a net in familiar waters, they don’t seem to be catching anything. Their work has become unproductive. Jesus suddenly appears for the third time, fills their net and feeds them breakfast.
I love the image of breakfast on the beach around a fire. We can imagine the smell of the fish cooking in the open air: The feeling of warmth. The sounds of crackling wood, and water washing the shore, the dawn light, and wet sand. But the passage doesn’t provide these details for us, nor does it describe the taste of the fish; How they feel to eat after a long night. This is what we think of. Instead, Deep conversation ensues. They are eating communally - and the focus is on their shared conversation.
Jesus primarily engages Peter. He asks him three times, “Do you love me?” Each time Peter says, “You know I do.” And each time Jesus responds with an answer that represents what loving God means: Feed, Tend, Feed. More than anything Love means tending for others, and feeding one another. Jesus repeats himself.
For some it is literally food. But for any of us, we know that eating with families or friends is so much more than just food at dinner time. Our family also requires our attention, our connection as nourishment.
For any of us who have worked in feeding ministry we know it is more than meals. A feeding ministry provides connection not just food. It represents tenderness and care. The greatest gift: our humanity. The care that involves using our hands, and our hearts and the sacrifice of time. Precious time. Feeding and tending prioritizes connection.
Meals are a time for shared conversation.
Jesus comes to tell the disciples it’s time to break the fast from life. Follow me: Live now. Live now for what you believe in most: Love, Tend, Feed others. Follow me. Now is the time to live.
Open the eyes of our faith God, that we may behold you in all of your redeeming work
Life is not one even-keeled sail. Dramatic things happen. Things change and require us to change too, or we lapse into stale versions of ourselves. Covid happened. It had dramatic impacts on all of us. We are trying to return to “normal," but we also recognize that things have shifted. We have learned to do things in new ways and we are discerning which ways do we want to keep - and what old ways are we ready to let go of.
The death of George Floyd happened during Covid. It sparked a response to the way people of color have been - and continue to be targeted. Beyond marches and protests, many of us began to search for answers to the inequities in our country. We began to realize that recognition and repair are necessary for healing to begin: for redemption. The Episcopal Church who has included antiracism in our mission for many years, finally seemed to really focus our attentions.
Something shifted. Something dramatic happened, and it is time to change.
But now that the emotional flare of that period is waning, are we simply returning to our old ways? Or are we continuing to educate ourselves? Look deeply at the history of our country, trying to understand the terrible dynamics that persist? Martin Luther King Jr said, “the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” To put it into even more context, MLK was harkening back to the phrase from a famous abolitionist minister Theodore Parker. Parker studied at Harvard Divinity School and eventually became an influential minister in the Unitarian church. In 1853 Parker preached (100 years before MLK)
“I do not pretend to understand the moral universe. The arc is a long one. My eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by experience of sight. I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends toward justice.”
In other words: It is with conscious vision that it bends toward justice.
We cannot go back to “business as usual” now that we have seen the light (like our brother Paul) the light that sheds truth on suffering: a nation awakened by tragedy… to our own reality. In 2020 we returned to the table of antiracism for conversation. This table provides sustenance for our future and for our community and country.
Like Peter and the disciples we are being asked,
“Do you love me?”
Jesus makes it pretty clear: Loving God means to feed and tend.
How do we feed and tend one another? We must continue the conversation: talking and moving toward that arc of justice, lest we find like the disciples that our life work has become unproductive.
Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold you God in all your redeeming work.
Once we’ve tasted the “new” way, our old ways will no longer suffice.
Break your fast from True life…with hope and courage to live into your beliefs this Easter!