May 1, 2022, Message For A Resurrecting Community, by Pastor David
John 21: 1-19 After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. 2 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. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
4 Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” 6 He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. 7 That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.
9 When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” 19 (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”
Meditation: In our moment of meditation today, may we hear God speaking in this Easter season, giving us new life - even today.
May 1, 2022 Message for a Resurrecting Community
Christians eat together. That’s what we do. It’s not just a St. Luke bagels-after-church thing, or a United Methodist potluck thing, or even just a Christian communion thing. It’s what we do. Other religions & communities do it too.
But eating has a unique place in Christian ritual and history. Every month we come together to remember Christ feeding the disciples - saying “Take, eat, this is my body broken for you.” At the beginning of our history it was a real meal.
For 26 years I have had the privilege of presiding over this meal, taking the authority you bestowed on me, by the stole you put around my neck - to offer this gift to our congregation. Today may well be the last time I receive this privilege… to serve you this meal in this particular way.
It reminds me of all the meals we have had over the years. There have been a lot of them - not just the first Sunday of the month kind. In the year 2001 we started a new members’ class that took on a special quality - Lisa Santomen, Jon Cumming, Linda Doucette-Ashman, and Bob Woolston were in a class which took the work of figuring out what the vows to combat evil in whatever form it presents itself seriously.
At the end of the class the last thing we do is to have a meal together and this group didn’t want to stop meeting. I had been to a workshop about forming LIFE groups - Living in Faith Everyday - so we kept meeting as a LIFE group - and included Marilyn Arnott who had been in a previous new members class.
One of the guidelines of LIFE group is to multiply to bring new people into the faith group. Eventually, Marilyn began leading her own LIFE group with Lisa, Lauri began leading a Parents LIFE group with Lauren Nunnelee and Cathy Clarke, and Jon started leading a Men’s LIFE group with breakfast included. These groups became central to faith formation and support in our church for the next fifteen years and still today. The Men’s LIFE group met for breakfast this morning.
It was a fruitful time for ministry here. Carol and Laura Woolston joined with Bob. Brad and Paige Daggett joined after an Easter service where they got scared they were coming into some kind of cult, because we started the service with a funeral for Jesus. Kay Reed and Mihye (Michelle) Kim. Anna Blinn joined.
Jon Cumming, jr., L Marmon, Jerome Vivino were part of another wonderful confirmation class. Betty Marmon came in at the same time as Lauren and Keith. Raymond Haigh joined with the next confirmation class. (Thank you)
We had some excellent interns too during that time, one of whom, Scott Friedgen Veitch joined Lisa and Jon and me when we spent a week at Cookman United Methodist Church in North Philadelphia. We went there as a kind of anti-mission trip - with one rule, that we weren’t allowed to help. The idea was that we would go and learn about their ministries and their church and not act like because we had more resources in the suburbs that we were superior.
It was an eye opening weekend for all of us. We marveled as dozens and hundreds of young people came and went from the church for AA and NA meetings, and for exercise groups and trying to play basketball on a flooded court. Eating together became really important. Pastor Donna Jones told us we had to limit ourselves to $10 a day for food and we worried how we were going to get enough to eat. Jon cooked for us, and people from the neighborhood brought us food and gave us an amazing bounty of delicious food to the point we almost felt guilty for how well we were doing. And we thought we were going to be deprived.
We wanted so much to help, we begged the pastor at the end to let us go back to St. Luke and bring them a sump pump from our church to pump the water off their basketball court. She let us do it, but when the week was over, she let us know how breaking our rule of not helping had put her in a difficult position. She saw how much it meant to us to give something back to the church after we had learned so much, but she said that her young trustees were supposed to get a sump pump themselves and that by doing in for them we had undermine her attempts to get them to be proactive and to help themselves. Oh we learned a lot that week.
Let me say a brief word about this amazing scripture reading for this morning before we move into a time of communion. Let’s just notice one small thing about this resurrection story. Here is the risen Jesus waiting on the beach to offer food to the disciples. All through Jesus’ ministry, he had offered food to them and the first thing he does when he returns if feed them. They had gone back to fishing, but Jesus waits on the beach next to a fire, cooking them some fish and offering them some bread.
So as we come to the communion table we may recognize it not just as the Last Supper but as the First Breakfast, or even the Great Lunch - as in the feeding of the 5000. (Steve Garnaas-Holmes) I could have made this whole sermon be about meals we have had together- bagels after church, soup luncheons on Souperbowl Sunday, pizza lunches on Children’s Sunday, welcome back potlucks in September, Men’s LIFE group breakfasts, frozen yogurt at the local yogurt shop with LIFE group leaders.
Every one of these meals, including where we get to feed folks at Mary Jane Center, are an echo of the Last Supper and the First Breakfast. Every one of these meals are a time of grace, a time to recognize the Christ in and among us. Every meal is a chance for us to answer Jesus’ question and offer of forgiveness to Peter for his denial at the cross. Three times Jesus asks him “Do you love me?” and Peter undoes his denials one by one as three times he says, “Lord, you know I love you.” Every time we eat together, we express our love as we heed God’s call to “Feed my sheep.”
We are a community that feeds each other - feeds each other with love and community, not just with food. Some of us don’t remember beyond 26 years ago, but we’ve been doing it here in Bryn Mawr for 145 years. In this resurrecting community, I hope and expect you will have a lovely luncheon in November to celebrate those 145 years together, giving out the Jim McDermott award
So, for today, let’s eat together, one more time. It’s not the last time, really. We have more meals and feeding each other to go - and really every time we eat together it is a reuniting of all of us everywhere from every time. That’s how the early church understood it. And they grew by leaps and bounds because folks came together to eat. In the first two centuries, it was the most important thing they did. This is a time of remembering all the meals we have had together, and all the love we have shared around the table.
May God’s good news of resurrection life always be shared around this table and in this place.
Communion Hymn 2210 Joy Comes with the Dawn