Tina used to blog almost every Monday and she called it Sunday Morning leftovers. I liked the concept because to do it she would have to actually go to church, pay attention, make sure she got something out of it and chew on it that afternoon or the next day enough to write about it. However, I take my kids to church with me which honestly means I am often doing anything but listening when it comes time for the sermon or “telling” as Owen likes to call it. (probably because I’m also telling him to be quiet or not color in the hymnals). And I know it is well past Monday, but I’m going to give it a shot anyways.
And this Sunday was Easter and that usually means a crowded parking lot and a big show with special music. And I have to be honest. I don’t really like a show. We got to church on time (and usually we are at least a hymn late). But on time on Easter Sunday is not early enough to park in the parking lot or get a seat inside the sanctuary. And I kind of refuse to go to church only to watch it on TV. So me and my husband decided to go to another service that was going on inside the chapel. A slightly smaller more casual service. Every one was still in new dresses and the music was probably turned up a notch. But there were still seats and coffee and we slid into our chairs.
And the pastor touched on two of my favorite things from the Easter story. And they are pretty much unrelated. Sort of. My favorite line from the Easter Sunday story is “thinking he was the gardener, she said…” (John 20:15)…about Mary as she asked the Christ where they put his body. And I’m not sure why I love it. Except that I think I miss him all the time too. And I blogged about it once. A long time ago. Poorly. But then I read some Rob Bell on it and he did a much better job here.
And the pastor read a lot of the Easter story out of John. And even though I’ve read it dozens of times… somehow I’d missed some important details. Like I remember the part about Mary thinking he was the gardener, but not the part about John and Peter running to the empty tomb even before that. And that as soon as Peter saw the cloth lying there that “he saw and believed”. (vs8). But, even though he had just been in the empty tomb. And believed. That somehow that wasn’t enough. That he still did not understand (vs9). And so they went home (vs10).
That is how Easter Sunday starts.
And empty tomb.
And his best friends believed but didn’t get it and went home. Until Mary mistook him for the gardener.
And we know the rest. That Jesus shows up. More than once. Even lets Thomas slip his hand in his side. And they saw. And they believed. Even Thomas. But they still didn’t get it or know what to do. Which is often how a lot of us respond when we get a glimpse of Christ.
And I have always been drawn to John 21 (go ahead read it). The part of the story that most people don’t tell….
And I even blogged about it once. And said mostly this…
Plenty of jumping off points and weird things to talk about in that story.
Like the fact that Jesus had already been crucified and this is basically a conversation with a dead man.
Like that fact that John is referred to "the disciple that Jesus loved" which is a pretty great way to refer to yourself.
That he asks Peter the same question three times.
That these guys who had followed Jesus everywhere just months before. Who heard him preach. Who saw his miracles and even did a few themselves. Seemed to be right back to where they started from. Out fishing. Having a pretty lousy morning.
Until some guy on the shore pipes up.
And yes. It is a cool story. Jesus shows up and of course they don't recognize him. Because they never do. And he tells them to toss their net over the other side. And they listen. Even though they still don't know that this is Jesus. Even though they haven't caught a stinkin fish all night.
And amazingly their net is full with fish. So full that the net should rip. That the boat should tip.
But it doesn't.
And finally someone recognizes the man on the shore.
And here is the kicker.
As soon as Peter realizes that it is Jesus.
He jumps into the sea.
In his clothes.
and swims to the shore.
The bible doesn't really go in to details here but I'm willing to bet that there was a pretty great reunion on the shore. With a fire and fish and bread and probably a few bear hugs.
And Peter got to him first.
Because he wasn't afraid to get wet.
But this time the sermon added a little bit more. That – maybe believing isn’t enough. That maybe we still don’t get it. And Jesus’s charge to Peter.
That it’s time to get off the boat and get to work.
That we can be forgiven for our denials. No matter how many times it takes. Three or Thirty three.
And most importantly, that there are sheep to feed…
(and you can listen to the actual sermon here if you want....)