Archive for May, 2017

30th April 2017


Reading: John 21:1-19



How have the past two weeks been for you?

Has anything changed with your faith?

The reason I’m asking is because two weeks ago we celebrated the day of Jesus’ resurrection.

Two weeks ago the stone was rolled away, the tomb was found to be empty and Jesus was seen alive.

Two weeks ago, we celebrated a life changing event –

So here’s my question. How have the past two weeks been for you?

Is your life any different?

What difference has the resurrection made for us?

And I am not asking about what difference it might make in some distant heavenly future. I am asking about our lives today, here and now.


The resurrection is central to our faith – it’s a big deal – Easter is by far the most important time of the year for Christians. But what’s equally important is how resurrection happens in our lives today – in the small details of everyday life.

How does that empty tomb affect our everyday lives?

In other words, in what way is Jesus alive and revealed in our lives – Is Jesus alive and revealed in our lives?


John begins today’s gospel by telling us that Jesus “showed himself in this way.” John then sets the third appearance of Jesus to his disciples amidst ordinary circumstances. He returns the disciples to their old routines. He gives a lot of small, seemingly unnecessary, and even strange details. John focuses on the details in which Jesus showed himself; so maybe we should too.

That’s what I want to do this morning, to explore the details John gives us in today’s gospel, and look at those images in a way that I hope will help us recognize the resurrection of Jesus in the details of our own lives.


First of all… The disciples have returned home. They’ve gone back to fishing. They’ve moved from the empty tomb to their boats, from the house in Jerusalem to the familiar waters of the Sea of Tiberias. They’ve travelled some 70 or 80 miles from the place of Jesus’ resurrection and gone back to their old routines – back to their old ways of fishing. The same old boats, the same nets, the same water, the same work, and that’s when and where Jesus “showed himself.”

Easter was two weeks ago, the kids are back to School. The Chocolate eggs have probably all been eaten, and we’ve returned to the routine of our lives. The wonderful news is, that is when and where we can expect Jesus to show himself to us.

Resurrection does not happen apart from the routines of life but in them. Resurrection is not about escaping life but about becoming alive.

It’s a reality in our daily lives – a life changing reality here and now.


Secondly, they fished through the darkness but their nets were empty. “That night they caught nothing.”

John paints a wonderful picture – it was night, it was dark, and their nets were empty. And if you think he’s just stating some basic facts, then you’ve missed the depth of imagery and metaphor in his story.

This is John’s Gospel. He’s an artist. He’s a poet. There’s depth and layers of meaning which are there to be uncovered.

The disciples are in a dark, dark place. And in the same way, the net is empty. That’s not just a description of their fishing efforts, it’s a metaphor for the disciples themselves. They are as empty as their nets. They have nothing to show for their efforts. Even the one whom they followed, the one who said, I will make you fishers of men and caused them to leave their nets behind, has now been taken away from them and crucified dead. That’s the depth of their darkness and emptiness.


And that’s when Jesus appeared.

That’s when Jesus, still unrecognized by the disciples, shows himself and says, “Children, you have no fish, have you?”

It’s not a question, it’s a statement. Not so different from another of John’s stories – an echo of Mary’s voice at the wedding in Cana when she said to Jesus, “They have no wine”. Empty nets. Empty jars. No wine, no fish, no life. That’s when Jesus showed himself.


Nets and jars cannot be filled unless they are first emptied. In the same way we can never be filled with Jesus until we are first emptied of ourselves, until we come to recognize the limits of our own self-sufficiency. The emptiness is not the end or a failure but a beginning.

The miracle begins when the wine runs out.

Jesus shows up when the nets are empty.


So let me ask you this. What are your empty nets today? What wine jars have run dry? Don’t throw the jars away and don’t abandon your nets. They are the very places Jesus reveals himself. They will be places of resurrection – jars overflowing with the best wine and nets filled with large fish; wine to gladden your heart and fish to nourish your life.


Another point, did you notice that all this happens just after daybreak? The dark night of fishing has given way to the dawn of a new day, new hopes, new possibilities. The darkness has passed and the light always prevails.

In the light of this new day, in the light of a full net, in the light of 153 fish Jesus shows himself. “It is the Lord!”


This isn’t just about the rising of the sun. It’s about the rising of the Son in the darkness of the disciples’ lives and in the darkness of our own lives.

Whatever darkness we encounter in our lives – when life is clouded by anxiety, or pain, or depression or sadness, whatever darkness we might be going through today, that is precisely the darkness, the circumstances in which Jesus will show himself to you.


A forth point – as soon as Jesus is recognised, Peter who is naked gets dressed and jumps in the water.

Do we need to know that Peter was naked? Or maybe, as some think, this is a mistake – John has made a mistake – surely he’d undress and then jumps into the water? And what difference does it make anyway? Why is John telling us this?

If you take scripture at just face value and don’t ask the deeper questions, you miss the depth and beauty and metaphor which points to a deeper truth and meaning.

John is an artist and a poet. There’s depth and layers of meaning which are there to be uncovered.

He’s telling us so much more than the fact that Peter wasn’t wearing any clothes.

When was the last time Peter got out of the boat?

It was the time when he saw Jesus on the water and he said, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water”.

But this story is quite different. There are no conditions, no demands, no requests for a miracle. Peter simply gets dressed. Read it in the original Greek, and it means so much more than it reads in any English translation.

John is doing more than just clothing Peter’s nakedness. Peter is clothing himself with courage, clothing himself with joy, clothing himself with an urgency for Jesus. And fully clothed, he plunges himself into the waters of new life.


What places or circumstances of our lives need to be clothed with courage or joy? And if they were how would that change your life? What new possibilities would open to you? What might you do differently? How would that change your relationships or your outlook on life and the world? What does a life clothed in courage, joy, and urgency for Christ mean for you?

However we answer that question, these are the places and ways in which Jesus is shows himself to us.


A fifth point – I wonder what Peter thought when he got ashore and saw a charcoal fire. I wonder if he gazed into the flames, lost himself in the past, and remembered that other charcoal fire, the one by which he warmed himself and denied Jesus. I wonder if Peter remembered how the cock crowed three times, and three times he denied knowing Jesus?

I wonder if he was overcome with regret.

I wonder if he was afraid.

I wonder if he relived that night thinking, “If only….”

Whatever Peter might have been thinking or feeling and whatever guilt he may or may not have had, all of it was interrupted, and banished, and silenced by Jesus showing himself and saying, “Come and have breakfast.”


Jesus shows himself to us in the presence of guilt, regrets, and betrayals. And those feelings are extinguished when a new fire is kindled. That’s what happened to Peter, for you, and for me. The last supper becomes the first breakfast and the charcoal fire of denial has become a charcoal fire of welcome and invitation. What looked like endings have become new beginnings.


And finally, for most of us shared meals also mean shared conversation, just as it is with Peter and Jesus.

It was a conversation about love, freedom, and moving forward. “Do you love me?” Jesus asks Peter, not once but three times. One question for each of Peter’s denial. Three times Peter gives the same answer, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”

And I’m sure he did. I’m sure Jesus knew that Peter loved him but Peter needed to know that he loved Jesus. Peter needed to understand that he was not bound to or identified by his past.

Sometimes we need to hear that – we need to hear and understand that we’re not bound or identified by our past. We need to hear it, understand it, and experience it again and again as if for the very first time.


This Gospel reading is the Lectionary reading for this 2nd Sunday in Easter – and it’s the most perfect reading as we come to ordain 4 new elders here in Liddesdale.


Today is a significant day in the life of Liddesdale Parish, and it’s wonderful that we’ve joined with Canonbie to celebrate the ordination and show our support for Angela, Glynis, Howard and Michael.

And it’s a significant day in your lives. It’s an affirmation that you have gifts, for the good of this parish and ultimately, for the good of God’s Kingdom.

With each question and answer Jesus drew Peter from his past and freed him to become himself and to be more fully alive. That’s what today’s gospel is about.

It’s the same story being told through the many different details and circumstances of our lives.


Jesus showed himself in the empty nets that were filled with large fish, the darkness that gave way to light, nakedness that was clothed, a charcoal fire of denial that became a fire of welcome and invitation, a last supper that became a first breakfast, and three denials that were forgiven with three affirmations of love.


Resurrection is in the details. That’s true in today’s gospel, it’s true in our lives, and today it’s true in our church.

Resurrection is in the details of new life, new beginnings, new chapters, and new elders.



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