4-20-15 - Gone Fishin'

I find the lectionary tradition designating the Fourth Sunday of Easter “Good Shepherd Sunday” odd. I don’t get interrupting the flow of resurrection appearance stories with Jesus’ decidedly pre-Passion “I am the good shepherd” discourse. Nuts to that, I say! I’m not done with Easter. So this week, we will explore the post-resurrection fish fry in Water Daily land and at Christ the Healer. Here is the gospel passage.

Clergy and church musicians often take a vacation in the weeks after Easter. My Facebook feed is full of pictures of colleagues in exotic climes or relaxing at the beach. I even took a quick four-day run visiting family, just to get away and recharge a little after the intensity of work before and during Holy Week and Easter. Seems we’re actually in good apostolic tradition – Jesus’ disciples did the same thing!

After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.”

Maybe they wanted to go fishing as a way of getting out of Dodge – they’d been holed up in that house for fear of arrest since Jesus’ death. And that anxiety was amplified by the weirdness of Jesus’ resurrection self showing up here and there when they least expected it. Maybe they wanted to get back home to Galilee, feel safer, relax a little.

Or was “going fishing” code for “the old life?” Were Peter and the others going back to what they’d known before Jesus came along and said, “Follow me?” Were they giving up the mission for which they’d trained with Jesus? Maybe they thought he’d come back to pick up the work again. Or maybe they were too mystified, and too drained, to do anything but something they knew they were good at.

Whatever their motivation, it was a very human response to a time of not knowing what comes next. Of course, we know this was a transition time in their lives; that Jesus was going to give them clearer instructions and then ascend into heaven, after which they would have another waiting time before the power of the Holy Spirit came upon them. But they didn’t know it was a transition. Maybe it was the end. We don’t always know when we’re in transition times. Sometimes it just feels like we’re in limbo.

In your life right now, are you in a time of settledness, or transition, or limbo? Do you know which it is? Where is God in this time? It’s okay to ask – “Lord, how do you want me to use my gifts? Where are you calling me to make you known?” It might be in the same places and ways, and it might be in new ones. And always we can ask Jesus to be discernibly present with us in the not-knowing.

Not-knowing fully is where we live in this life. In times of confusion or grief, maybe going off to do something relaxing, something we’re good at, is just the right response. And sometimes, like Peter and the gang,we discover we’re no longer so good at that thing – we realize we have indeed been re-purposed. And then we have to wait to be sent.

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