Collect and Readings for Third Sunday of Easter – Acts 9:1-20, Zephaniah 3.14-end, Psalm 30, Revelation 5:11-end, John 21:1-19The Prayer for today Almighty Father, you have given your only Son to die for our sins and to rise again for our justification: grant us so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness that we may always serve you in pureness of living and truth; through the merits of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever Amen.
This week's readings invite us to see the consequences of the Resurrection from both a heavenly and an earthly view at once, which is a very three-dimensional experience! In the passage from Revelation we see through the eyes of the visionary the ecstatic and eternal welcome given by inhabitants of heaven to the triumphant Lamb of God, who has proved worthy of all honour, glory and praise through his total sacrifice, self-expending and loving obedience.
From the earthly point of view, we have the disciples, so wonderfully human and well-meaning and bumbling, going back to the safe place they came from as a natural reaction to the trauma and turmoil of the present. We recognise the symptoms, as we remember our own tendency to settle into old established behaviour patterns if God's new direction for us is proving too challenging or too open-ended.
So, typically, our God makes his appearance in a place we will be bound to meet him: the place we are fishing in. And as Jesus sets up his camp breakfast on the beach, he gives those friends he loves so fondly the opportunity to discover him, recognise him, and recommit themselves to his way of living. Gently and deliberately, Jesus leads Peter to undo those denials and face the dangerous consequences of commitment realistically. There is a maturity about Peter's commitment now which is quite different from his previous enthusiastic claim that he would never forsake his Master. This commitment is quieter and made with more self-knowledge. Peter is growing up.
Saul too, receives his commission, and the fiery zeal of his desire to cleanse the Jewish faith of these dangerous heretics' crumples in the shining light of Jesus' heavenly presence that he experiences on the Damascus road. Once again Jesus has made his appearance where Saul has chosen to ride.
Whenever Jesus meets us and challenges us, we become his witnesses and are drawn into a commission which carries great responsibility. Those who have not met Jesus will judge him by the way we behave and speak.
Some things to reflect on:
What do you think was going through Peter's mind at each stage of his conversation with Jesus on the beach?
What does Jesus' approach to Peter and to Paul teach us about our way of evangelising others?
God bless and stay safe and well.
Rev'd Fiona Robinson