Bring me Some Fish!
It is a joy to be here preaching in this beautiful chapel and to share in the excitement of Findlay’s big baptism day when he joins a family of some 2 billion christian’s worldwide, but sorry pal, not all of them will remember your birthday or Christmas so we will have to do.
So how has your week been? How are your 50 days of unremitting easter joy going? Well? Stressful? Nobody told the university that having exams and deadlines during Easter festivities was in fact a bad idea? No well please try and be happy until Pentecost day on the 9th of June after which everything can return back to normal.
But what is normal> Before I had a proper job, that is before I was Assistant Chaplain to this fine university, I was an normal jobbing Anglican priest who served as Rector for various Rural Anglican churches in the North East of Scotland.
There were many many elements to this role, primarily the internal role of pastoral nurturing and support of those who were a part of our church community alongside an external role of supporting the local community and other churches or faiths in the area.
One of the highlights of the role in every church I served was getting involved with the local schools and the local nursing homes or sheltered housing.
The difference between the ages I was working with didn’t really matter to me, whether it was providing Messy Church for kids or Messy Church for Wrinklies (as I lovingly refer to those slightly older than myself) I would invariable give the same talk to each. And invariably I would use the same props.
Easter and Christmas are always my favourite liturgical events in the church’s calendar and not merely because chocolate is involved in one and presents with another. No but of course that does have something to do with it always.
For me, explaining in simple straightforward terms the tenets of our Christian faith, in essence why people like Donald and myself do the things we do, day in day out week in week out semester in semester out, is actually a priority of our role as your ministers of faith. I was first ordained a deacon before I was ordained a priest and a deacon’s role is primarily to serve and to teach people about Jesus, to prepare them for baptism.
And here today I have been given the ideal timeslot to relive my deacon year and to share with you all about the faith and what this season of Easter is all about, especially as we have the baptism of Findlay happening very shortly.
So back to messy churches for kids and wrinklies. In my post Easter talk to both age ranges I would bring out a series of, well why don’t I just show you?
Out of my spotty bag of faith – because every one’s bag of faith is always a bit spotty, I would bring out
And I would then get those who had not yet fallen asleep to put them in the right biblical Easter story order.
So all was well until we got to the fish fingers.
This used to stump everyone.
Some would have it at the beginning when Jesus calls his disciples at the beginning of his ministry to be fisher of people, others would get the joke and talk of Jesus cooking fish for his friend’s breakfasts that post Easter morning on the beach.
This story comes just after Peter and the other disciples after listening to the women preaching about the resurrection (and not believing them) had gone to the tomb, saw it was empty for themselves and then with nothing better to do had gone off home.
Note that the women preached, and the men abandoned Jesus yet again went home and then went fishing. Because what else could men do after all the fun and adventure of the last three years but return to what they had been doing originally before Christ called them. #Hashtag Just saying
Anyway, Jesus decided to do something about this and revealed himself to his friends who had been up all night trying to catch some fish without any success.
Jesus, not giving the game away, calls from the shore, directs them to where the fish are and tells them to cast their nets. Where of course there were so many fish it probably nearly broke the net.
Isn’t that just like Jesus, you ask for help, he tells you to do something and lo and behold miracles happen. Always always with Jesus we must work with him and do things for ourselves and others before we benefit.
And then of course Jesus cooks for them. As a woman who can microwave a mean Mark and Spencer’s meal but cannot manage even after 25 years of marriage to cook an entire meal and get it on the table still warm and still edible, ever, I am always slightly in awe of the fact my lord and master, my Jesus cooks!
That is a high bar indeed and all I can say is students, get some cooking lessons because it is very attractive in a partner – did I say that my husband is a brilliant cook?
Jesus cooks them all breakfast, with bread and with that his friends knew instantly who it was who was being so bossy on the beach. Jesus, the same Jesus they had just sealed in the tomb and said farewell too.
But then again this was the third time he had appeared, so they must have been pretty used to him popping up when least expected.
And of course, the number three is important. Just as Jesus was denied by Peter three times, Jesus now asks Peter if he loves him and to feed Jesus’ Sheep.
Why does Jesus do this? To make up for the three times Peter said he didn’t know Christ, to emphasis that Jesus was handing over the charge of all to Peter, to make sure that Peter, who let’s face it wasn’t the brightest button in the box really really understood what he was being charged to do?
Jesus was telling peter that before you can teach, before you can preach before you can tell the stories about the faith you have to make sure of one very simple fact. People are loved.
How does this manifest itself? By making sure they are physically comfortable, fed, watered, sheltered, free from debt, released from the chains that bind them, healed and whole. That people are fed. Once that priority is seen too, well then, preach away!
Feed my sheep. Jesus as ever always showed what he meant for us to do by example, so he fed his disciples on that beach on that misty morning with that fish.
Today let us feed those we can, let us pay for the person’s coffee behind us, let us write to a prisoner or petition an Member of Parliament about Climate change – they have nothing else to think about at the moment, let us phone a friend who we haven’t spoken to for years, let us love a stranger, a neighbour and ourselves.
Feed others feed yourself. Findlay, Jesus is calling you to be apart of the family that does all this every minute of every day, a family that reaches out and cares, love and feeds all regardless of race, colour, creed or sexuality.
Come Findlay, join the party and one day too you will feed Jesus’ sheep.