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A Seasonal Communion For Eastertide

Prologue

Our guide through Holy Week and Easter was St John. He taught us that in and through Jesus, God was inaugurating a new phase of Creation. In the final story in St John's Gospel we hear Jesus setting out for his disciples what is required of them if that new phase is to be carried forward. In our service this morning we reflect on and respond to what he had to say.

Reading: John 21: 1 - 22

Some time later, Jesus showed himself' to his disciples once again, by the Sea of Tiberias; and in this way. Simon Peter and Thomas 'The Twin' were together with Nathanael of Cana-in-Galilee. The sons of Zebedee and two other disciples were also there. Simon Peter said, 'I am going out fishing.' 'We will go with you,' said the others. So they started and got into the boat. But that night they caught nothing. Morning came, and there stood Jesus on the beach, but the disciples did not know it was Jesus. He called out to them, 'Friends have you caught anything?' They answered 'No.' He said. -Shoot the net out to starboard, and you will make a catch.' They did so, and found they could not haul the net aboard; there were so many fish in it. Then the disciples whom Jesus loved said to Peter, 'It is the Lord!' When Simon Peter heard that, he wrapped his coat about him (for he had stripped) and plunged into the sea. The rest of them came on in the boat, towing the net full of fish- for they were not Far from land, only about a hundred yards.

When they came ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish laid on it, and some bread Jesus said, 'Bring some of your catch.' Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to land, full of big fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and yet, many as they were, the net was not torn. Jesus said, 'Come and have breakfast.' None of the disciples dared to ask, 'Who are you?' They knew it was the Lord. Jesus now came up, took the bread, and gave it to them, and the fish in the same way.

This makes the third time that Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection from the dead.

After breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon son of John, do you love me more than all else?' 'Yes, Lord,' he answered, 'you know that I love you.' 'Then feed my lambs,' he said. A second time he asked, 'Simon son of John, do you love me?' 'Yes, Lord, you know I love you.' 'Then tend my sheep.' A third time he said, 'Simon son of John, do you love me?' Peter was hurt that he asked him a third time, 'Do you love me?' 'Lord,' he said, 'you know everything; you know I love you.' Jesus said, 'Feed my sheep. 'And further, I tell you this in very truth: when you were young you fastened your belt about you and walked where you chose; but when you are old you will stretch out your arms, and a stranger will bind you fast, and carry you where you have no wish to go.' He said this to indicate the manner of death by which Peter was to glorify God. Then he added, 'Follow me.'

Peter looked round, and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following - the one who at supper had leaned back close to him and asked the question, 'Lord, who is it that will betray you?' When he caught sight of him, Peter asked, 'Lord, what will happen to him?' Jesus said, 'If it should be my will that he wait until I come, what is it to you? Follow me.'

THE CALL TO CARE

Reading: John 21: 15- 17

After breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon son of John; do you love me more than all else'?' 'Yes, Lord,' he answered, 'you know that I love you.' 'Then feed my lambs,' he said. A second time he asked. 'Simon son of John, do you love me?' 'Yes, Lord, you know I love you. 'Then tend my sheep.' A third time he said, 'Simon son of John, do you love me?' Peter was hurt that he asked him a third time, 'Do you love me?' 'Lord.' he said, 'you know everything; you know I love you.' Jesus said, 'Feed my sheep.

Reflection

To be an agent of the new creation means following in Jesus' footsteps. It means, first, accepting the call to a life of service. That was how Jesus lived his life, devoting it to the care of others. He cared for their physical needs, healing the sick, restoring the disabled. He cared for their spiritual needs, offering through his teaching a way to wholeness of life. It is this vocation to which he calls Peter as he bids him

'Feed my lambs; tend my sheep; feed my sheep.'

Prayers

Lord, you devoted your life to caring for those who were in trouble. We pray for all those known to us who are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity. We remember those among our own family and friends. We remember those who are in our prayers here in church.

Lord, at the healing of Blind Bartimaeus, in the midst of all the noise and tumult of the crowd, you heard the one cry of real need, and answered it. Help us among the business and tumult of our lives to be equally alert to the one cry of real need and to do all that we can to respond to it. We ask this for Jesus' sake. Amen.

Lord, you have no body now on earth but ours; no feet but ours; ours are the eyes through which you are to look out with compassion in the world. Ours are the feet on which you are to go about doing good; ours are the hands with which you are to bless men now. Help us to use all the gifts you have given us to answer your call to care. Amen.

THE CALL TO OBEDIENCE

Reading: John 21: 18 - 19

'And further, I tell you this in very truth: when you were young you fastened your belt about you and walked where you chose: but when you are old you will stretch out your arms and a stranger will bind you fast, and carry you where you have no wish to go.' He said this to indicate the manner of death by which Peter was to glorify God. Then he added, 'Follow me.'

Reflection

To be an agent of the new creation means to follow in Jesus' footsteps. It means following in his footsteps in his life of service. It also means placing all we have and all we are at God's disposal, as Jesus did when he went to the cross. This is the challenge that Jesus puts to Peter. He will be 'carried where he has no wish to go,' but still the command is, 'Follow me.'

This is where it gets hard. It is hard because it runs counter to all we have been taught in a culture that celebrates those who claim 'I did it my way.' It is hard because it sets before us what seems an impossible ideal. We just know we will fall short. But though the demand is absolute, it is tempered by mercy and forgiveness. Three times, from a desire to save his own skin, Peter had denied that he ever knew Jesus. Jesus gently unburdens him of that guilt as three times he says to him, 'Simon son of John, do you love me?' drawing him back to the path from which he had strayed. We too may look for our shortcomings to be met with a similar understanding.

Prayers

We pray that Christ may live in us.

Christ be with me, Christ within me; Christ behind me; Christ before me; Christ to win me; Christ to comfort and restore me. Christ beneath me; Christ above me; Christ in quiet; Christ in danger; Christ in hearts of all that love me; Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

We recognise how far short we fall of that ideal, and ask for his forgiveness.

Forgive, O Lord, we pray you, what we have been; sanctify what we are; and order what we shall be. What we know not, teach us; what we have not, give us; what we are not, make us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

We offer ourselves, Lord, to your service.

We are no longer our own, Lord, but yours. Put us to what you will, rank us with whom you will; put us to doing, put us to suffering; let us be employed for you or laid aside for you; let us be full, let us be empty; let us have all things, let us have nothing; we freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal that your kingdom may come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

THE CALL TO COMMUNION

Reading: John 21: 9 - 13

When they came ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish laid on it, and some bread. Jesus said, 'Bring some of your catch.' Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to land, full of big fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them: and yet, many as they were, the net was not torn. Jesus said, 'Come and have breakfast.' None of the disciples dared to ask, 'Who are you"' They knew it was the Lord. Jesus now came up, took the bread, and gave it to them, and the fish in the same way.

Reflection

The gospel of John ends with the sharing of a meal between Jesus and his disciples. It is a fellowship that points forward to the completing of that new phase of creation that Jesus came to begin. It points forward to that perfect communion when Jesus' prayer finds fulfilment.

'As thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, so also may they be in us.'

It is to that same perfect communion that we look forward when we come forward, as we do now, to share together in Communion.

Prayers

We pray, Lord, for the coming of your kingdom; for the coming of a time when 'nation shall speak peace unto nation nor ever again be trained for war,' for the coming of that time when 'the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard lay down with the kid …and a little child shall lead them;' for the coming of that time when Jesus' prayer that 'they may all be one' will be fulfilled.

Lord, you prayed that we might all be one. Forgive the sins that tear us apart. Help us to rebuild that unity that is your will till the communion that we have broken is restored. We ask this for Jesus' sake. Amen

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