This sermon was given by our Reader Christine on Sunday 5 May 2019. You can take a closer look here:
How many of us have put something away, thinking I know where I’ve put it and why I’ve put it there, or particularly the children. When you’re asked to go and get something from your bedroom and you think you know where it should be, and when look it’s not there.
We look around, search every corner, (we think) and just can’t find it, then someone comes in and sees it straight away! And we stand there thinking, “well, why didn’t I see it?” We may say or think “I’m sure I looked there!”
I wonder how many of you, particularly the children have seen three things in the church today that are not normally here? (image of the Holy Family, circle of friends, praying hands).
We can sometimes become so familiar with objects, people, places and even nature that we don’t always see the obvious, or what’s in front of us. We have faith that whatever we need will be there or, we can find it when we need it.
We have faith the electric or gas will work, that the shop will have the groceries we need, that day will follow night and the sun will, occasionally, shine, maybe not always when we want it, but it’s always there just the same although we may not be able to see it!
Peter and the other disciples in the boat had faith; they had seen Jesus since his death, they were waiting as they had been told and had been fishing all night, but the disciples have caught absolutely nothing.
Someone from the shore tells them to put their nets on the other side of the boat. They don’t seem to question the person they have faith even though they don’t seem to recognise Jesus, they just do it and catch not just a few, but a full net. Even though they had followed Jesus for 3 years they couldn’t see who it was in front of them.
These are experienced men, fishermen from a young age and now they have a full net just by throwing it over the other side of the boat! Faith, they all had a feeling that the person speaking to them was the Lord.
They didn’t say anything or question him, except for the disciple whom Jesus loved, who stated quite clearly “It is the Lord!” Faith and Love flowed from them all.
We know Mary had faith in God, she trusted him entirely when he chose her to be the mother of his Son and she didn’t let him down. She gave Jesus her love and stayed faithful all her life.
The disciples, although they went through a difficult patch with one betraying Jesus, others running away and Peter denying him, through faith and love they carried on Jesus’ work and spread the Gospel in as many places as they could.
It is through prayer that we have faith to talk to God about our worries, concerns and to thank Him for the many gifts he gives to us, some of which we take for granted.
Gifts that Jesus was preparing the disciples to receive, for the Holy Spirit had not yet come to them, but how must Peter have felt when Jesus questioned him three times, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
I should imagine Peter was beginning to get a bit frustrated with Jesus in the same way we may do when a child continually asks the same question over and over again and then says, Why? Children are very good at that sort of thing, especially toddlers!
But this is Jesus, a grown man and someone who really knew the answer before Peter even spoke it. There could have been a number of reasons for Jesus doing this, it could have been to help Peter to reconcile himself, to say sorry to Jesus for denying and turning away from Him three times before the cock crowed.
It could have been his way of teaching Peter that as the foundation of his church, his rock, he would need to be able to forgive himself for what he had done, because sometimes it’s harder to forgive yourself than it is to forgive others. Jesus’ instructions to Peter after each answer “Feed my Lambs; Tend my Sheep; Feed my Sheep” indicates that Jesus wasn’t angry with Peter, he had forgiven him, wiped the slate clean so Peter could begin again.
Jesus and Peter knew the past could not be changed and Jesus was offering Peter a new start. The past couldn’t be changed, but the future was yet unknown and could be lived differently. Peter had a task to do.
Saul also had a task and he found that out on his way to Damascus, his future was changed in a blinding light and his past put behind him. Saul, who may not have heard Jesus’ voice before; a man who was against Jesus and his disciples, but whose future was changed by that single encounter.
A man whose faith and love led him to build churches, who worked diligently to share the Gospel with everyone he met.
The disciples and Saul at first didn’t recognise Jesus, they didn’t see the obvious, but they all had faith and love to follow his instructions. They gave up their planned way of life to follow him and to spread to word of God wherever they went.
Today there are many places where the Word of God has not yet been heard or is ignored, because people have not developed their faith or have lost it.
We can often look at events around the world and wonder where God is in it, but faith is there and we see examples of love and forgiveness in the actions of people who come together in times of devastation, distress and need, to support each other and to change their future.
Lezley J. Stewart says: “It is the act of greatest love that Christ our Lord forgives both you and me for all our sins, but not only that: he brings us into a new relationship with him, where there is a plan and purpose for our lives. If it is not enough that Christ forgives us in love, he then goes on to give us a task to do. His love is so great that it both calls us and sends us – it reinstates us to a place where we are held and known and loved by God.
From Peter’s reinstatement, he went on to be the rock on which the Church was built. From our forgiveness we are called to be the body of Christ, loving and serving in the world.”
To have faith and love to share with those we meet wherever we may be and allow our future to shaped by God’s Will.
We can’t always see the obvious, like that object we are searching for that someone else sees straight away.
We don’t always recognise Jesus in others, but he’s there in those kind words a friends says when we need comfort.
He’s there in the person who holds the door of the shop open when our hands are full.
He’s there in the teenager who stops to pick something up we’ve dropped.
He’s there in the rough sleeper who thanks you for that cup of coffee or bar of chocolate you give him.
He’s there in that child that says, “Why?”
Jesus is still with us in so many ways we just need to recognise him!
Let us pray in faith and love.
- Gracious God,
- we try so hard to put the past behind us,
- to let go and start again.
- The past is done and the future is before us.
- Receive our thanks and lead us forward,
- in the name of Christ our Saviour. Amen.
Christine Hardy, Reader @
St. Margaret’s, Holyrood & St. George’s, Simister.
(Where Two or Three are Gathered – Lezley J. Stewart).