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3 Easter - John 21:1-19

Updated: May 2, 2022

After someone you love dies, the whole world threatens to become a three dimensional memory.

Cleaning out the garage, you remember the time you laughed yourselves silly after the teetering storage rack collapsed like a house of cards.

Walking into a restaurant, you remember first hearing the news at that booth in the corner.

A shaft of late afternoon sunlight summons a tender moment and a sudden burst of tears.

A book, a coin, a flower, a flourish, a funny sound, a familiar aroma: anything at any time can trigger a memory that detonates in the heart.

Grief is a field full of landmines that cannot all be sidestepped; there is no passing through unscathed.

The loved one who is nowhere to be found is everywhere.

The disciples return to the shore of the Sea of Tiberias.

This was where Jesus fed those thousands of people with five crackers, two sardines, and twelve baskets full of leftovers.

The crowds tried to make him king, but he walked away.

That night we set sail and a storm arose, but that wasn't the scary part.

The scary part was the ghost on the water, the shadowy figure walking on the waves.

The next thing we knew, it was Jesus and we were on land; don't ask us how, we still

have no idea.

It probably took him all night to row us in after we all fainted.

Now the waters quietly lap the shore, and the dead silence tightens its grip.

The stillness is too much for Peter to handle.

I am going fishing.

We will go with you, probably because right now, it's not a good idea to let him go anywhere


We will go with you could be the motto of Stephen Ministers, who will share today a bit about who they are and what they do and do not do.

The upshot is that they are attentive, loyal companions when things are too dark to risk venturing out into the familiar alone.

They are there for you when you are unproductive and too naked for public view.

They won't help you catch any fish, but they might help you drag your heavy weight to a different place and a new day.

And somewhere along the way, the risen Jesus shows up, unnoticed, unannounced, unrecognized.

While we are struggling through the night, hope we cannot see or name is cooking us breakfast on more solid footing.

It's hard enough to believe the news of someone's death; how could anyone absorb and immediately adjust to resurrection?

It has to take awhile for day to dawn and for the heart and the eyes to trust each other enough to believe it's really him.

By the time that happens, Jesus has already made a promise come true.

Another memory pops: When I am lifted up, he said, I will haul all people to myself.

He had curiously used the industry fishing term for dragging in a catch of fish.

Now there's this heavy haul of 153 fish, one for every nation by someone's old count, yet the net holding them all together was not torn.

The Russian fish and the Ukrainian fish.

The Chinese fish and the Tibetan fish.

The standoff-fish and the self-fish.

Now it the job of the disciples, responsible for catching exactly none of them, to drag this net called church toward Jesus (that's still true).

And what will happen to the fish on the shore?

They will die.