Fifth Sunday of Easter

REFLECTION FROM WORDS FOR WORSHIP

For people of our time and culture it is very easy to not pay enough attention to how world and mind shattering Peter’s experience in this week’s text actually was. Like any Jew of his time Peter’s whole identity was invested in his Jewishness and his Jewishness was all about apartness, separation and distinction from every other culture and community on the face of the earth. Jews were Jews and the rest were Gentiles or in Hebrew goy, which was virtually synonymous with heathen. Peter’s vision must have been a spiritual and psychic experience that rocked him to his core. Yet, his experience of Jesus both before and after the resurrection had been so life changing God’s way of seeing the world.

Fourth Sunday of Easter

REFLECTION FROM WORDS FOR WORSHIP

Many of us know the Twenty-Third Psalm almost backwards it is so familiar to us. Perhaps, in our busy and frenetic world, its most poignant line is verse two, “He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters.” We know, almost intuitively, that times of quietness when we can rest our bodies and minds are essential to our health. Yet, it often seems that so little of what we do in our church communities, particularly for those of us in the Protestant tradition of the Church, encourages quietness and contemplation. It is as if we think the whole of discipleship is about what we do and say. It is not. What might your faith community need to do or stop doing in order for people to be encouraged into quietness and contemplation?

Third Sunday of Easter

It is so easy to get caught up in trivial interpretations of scripture and miss the point. Take a look at John 21:11: “Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn.” Now, why in heaven’s name was there 153 fish? Have you ever wondered about that? No? Well others have.

Cyril of Alexandria in the 5th century said that the 100 represented the fullness of the gentiles, the 50 symbolized the remnant of Israel and the three of course was there for the Trinity.

Augustine’s theory (5th century) was a little more complicated. He said, there are 10 commandments and 7 is the perfect number of grace and that’s 17 right? Now if you add all the numbers from 1 to 17 together, you know 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 all the way up to 17 you’ll get 153. And not only that but if you were to arrange them with 17 fish in the first row, and 16 in the next row, and 15 in the next row, all the way down to a row of 1 you get a perfect triangle which of course symbolizes the Trinity.

Jerome, he also lived in the 5th century, suggested that there were 153 different types of fish in the sea and it was symbolic of the church reaching all the people in the world.

Personally I have my own theory, want to hear it? I think that it’s mentioned because there were 153 fish in the net.

Here’s another theory of mine: they had to divide them somehow, and so Peter being the Skipper he got 21% or 32 fish, and John being mate got 16% that’s 25 fish, and the other five got 10.5% each or 16 fish….

You see we can get so caught up in really trivial stuff and miss the point that we need to be obedient to Christ, today.

Second Sunday of Easter

Three times in our text (John 20:19-31) Jesus says “peace be with you.” While we might read this as a habitual greeting in the same way we use “how are you,” without often meaning that we want to know exactly how a person is feeling physically, we can also read this greeting as the literal intention of Jesus. What if, spoken or not, every time Jesus was present with his disciples, his first and main priority was to bring peace? What if the same is true now? What if, without the hope and intention for peace, God cannot be present with us? What if seeking, striving for and maintaining deep and abiding peace invokes the very presence of God at the heart of our communities?

As we face hard challenges, deaths of family or friends, tragedies and misfortunes which seem unfair and a world in which sinners seem to prevail, it is often very hard to believe that Christ is alive.

But what if, when we are beset with sorrow and worry, we slowed ourselves down and took a deep breathe, breathing in the peace of God? Often as we face hard things, we can’t hear the voice of Christ saying our name, and yet, if we will listen in faith, it will come to us, just as it did to Mary as she wept beside the empty tomb.