Sunday Funday Sermie

In honor of the fact that it’s mid-April and we all woke up to a winter weather advisory, I think it might be good for all of us to take a vacation together. Are you ready? It’s going to be a 30-second vacation, so pack your bags quickly – you don’t want to miss any of the fun.

 Imagine the scene. It’s mid-July – 84 degrees. We’re at the lake. It's time to get into the water. But oh my! The water is still a little chilly!

How are we going to get in?

Some of us will likely start with just a toe. Slowly but surely we will make our way into the water. Others will likely jump right in! Both ways are good. Different situations call for different approaches. Today - we're celebrating the importance of jumping right in now and then!

In today's gospel lesson, Simon Peter – one of Jesus’ disciples - decides to jump right out of the boat and into the lake. His example is a reminder to us that sometimes our faith leads us to take leaps - to jump in - to go for it.

In these weeks after Easter, we hear stories of what Jesus did and who he interacted with after he rose from the dead.

We heard about the first time Jesus saw the disciples last Sunday during worship. Pastor Byron preached a wonderful sermon on that first appearance to disciples. They were all locked up in a room, afraid of everything. And then Jesus appeared in their midst. And then Jesus appeared another time – with Thomas in the room, too.

Today’s lesson is the 3rd time Jesus sees the disciples. This time, they are not in a locked room anymore. Now, they are on a boat. Simon had decided to go fishing and everyone else decides to come, too. They fish and fish all through the night – but end up with nothing.

Then this guy on the beach tells them to throw the net on the other side of the boat and try again. It works! One disciple yells: “It is the Lord!”

As soon as he hears the news, Simon Peter doesn’t dip a toe in. He doesn’t dip a finger in. Instead, he JUMPS right into the water and starts swimming to shore. He just cannot even wait another second. Eventually, the disciples on the boat get to shore, too. They bring tons of fish - 153 large fish, to be exact.

And so Jesus makes a breakfast – a modified version of the traditional fish and chips.

Simon Peter is SO thrilled at the sight and sound of Jesus, he cannot WAIT to get to the shore by boat. Remember: Simon is still dealing with some regret baggage. He's the one who denied Jesus three times before watching him be crucified and killed. Imagine Peter's joy and gratitude in getting to see Jesus again.

When he and the disciples arrive on the beach, they receive nourishment, healing, encouragement, and conversation. Instead of denying Jesus 3 times, Peter gets to say that he loves Jesus 3 times.

Every time Peter says he loves Jesus - Jesus says something in response. Feed my sheep. Tend my sheep. Jesus reminds Peter that loving God is always directly related to “feeding sheep.” Jesus is always building a bridge between our faith in Jesus and our service in the world. Feeding sheep is about sharing the love of God wherever we go.

This story of Simon Peter jumping right in is an exciting story and a fun story. It's always a challenge!

In what ways is God inviting you to jump in? In what ways is God inviting you to stop just dipping in a toe. To stop waiting for the water to warm up. But instead to jump in – with great and abundant joy.

In terms of your time – in what ways is God calling you to jump in? It's now a cultural norm to be "busy" - but what does it look like to "jump in" with our time and carve out a regular block for some kind of service – or spiritual practice – or the nurturing of a particular relationship?

How about in terms of using our unique abilities? In what ways is God calling you to jump in?

In what ways is God inviting us to jump in with the way we give of our finances?

A really important detail is that the starting point and the ending point of Peter's jumping in is the same. It's Jesus. Why does he jump in the first place? Because he hears it's Jesus on the beach! He cannot contain himself. And when he does reach the beach - who is there? Jesus! Ready to nourish him with food and listening, compassionate ear.

The same is true for us. When we decide to make those jumps of faith - to dive into the waters of God's abundant grace - it is Jesus who is our motivation - and it is Jesus who is there to greet us. It is just who is there to listen. To hear. To challenge. To encourage.

This is why we can bold in jumping in – this is why we can courageously listen to where the Holy Spirit is leading us – because no matter what: Jesus is going to be there. This season of Easter is a beautiful ongoing reminder that Jesus is and was and will always be there. May we have the courage to jump into God's amazing grace and share his love in the world. Amen.

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