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    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 2, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
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Third Sunday of Easter – April 18, 2010

Third Sunday of Easter Year C RCL April 18, 2010
Acts 9:1-6, (7-20)
Psalm 30
Revelation 5:11-14
John 21:1-19
Saul heads down the road to Damascus with murder in his heart. He has even gotten official sanction to persecute the followers of Jesus. Suddenly a light flashes from heaven, and Saul falls to the ground. There is a voice asking, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord,” Saul asks. “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But get up, enter the city, and you will be told what to do.” Saul has to be led by the hand into Damascus.
 
For three days, he is blind, in the dark. He neither eats nor drinks. Three days, like Jesus in the tomb. Like Jonah in the belly of the whale. Three days. Enough to go from death to new life. Enough to be transformed.A life transformed. A life whose direction changes from hatred to love.

Jesus calls Ananias to go and lay hands on Saul. But Ananias has heard of this man who kills Christians. He really does not want to help Saul. Jesus assures Ananias that this man, who has devoted his life to persecuting the followers of Christ, has been chosen to be the apostle to the Gentiles. And so, Ananias goes and lays healing hands on Saul, and Saul receives his sight, new vision, and he also receives the Holy Spirit.

Like all of us, Saul, now become Paul, has his flaws and weaknesses. But he goes forward from that day, through shipwreck, imprisonment, beatings, his own experiences of persecution, to spread the good news to the known world. Like Johnny Appleseed planting apple trees, Paul planted churches. All because of his encounter with the risen Lord on the road to Damascus.

Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James and John, and two others not named are fishing on the Sea of Galilee. After the shock of Jesus’ death, thinking it is all over, they have gone back home, back to what they know. They fish all night and catch nothing. Just after daybreak, Jesus is standing on the beach, but they do not recognize him. He calls to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” He knows the situation. So he tells them to cast to the right side, and, sure enough, the net is full to bursting. John intuitively knows it is Jesus. Peter puts some clothes on and jumps into the water. He is so eager to get to Jesus. Typical Peter. Impulsive and full of love. The rest of them come in the boat, dragging the loaded net.

When they get to shore, there he is, with a charcoal fire going. There are fish cooking on the fire, and there is bread for them to eat. Just waiting for them, almost casually, as if there had been no Cross and Easter. Jesus has cooked them breakfast. It is almost as if nothing had happened, but a great deal has happened, and he has come through it all. He is risen. And he is here. He asks them to bring something to the meal. He asks them to contribute their gifts. “Bring some of the fish you have just caught,” Jesus tells them. This is very important. This is a mutual thing. This is one of the birth scenes of mutual ministry, baptismal ministry. This is where it all began, with Jesus and the apostles.

“Come and have breakfast, ” he says. They share a simple meal. He takes the bread and gives it to them, and does the same with the fish. They know it is he. They have gone from a night of discouragement, a night of no fish, to a net brim full. Because of him. He is leading the way to new life.

Then comes one of the most moving and significant dialogues in the gospels. He turns to Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” And Peter says, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus says, “Feed my lambs.” A second time Jesus asks, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter answers, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus says, “Tend my sheep.” Then a third time Jesus asks, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” And Peter is hurt that Jesus is asking yet again, but he answers, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” And Jesus says, “Feed my sheep.”

In Hebrew thought, the number three signifies completion. Peter denied Jesus three times, Now, when Jesus asks Peter whether he loves him, Peter answers three times. Complete denial is forgiven, healed and transformed into complete loyalty and love. Peter will become the leader of the apostles.

We have all known discouragement, like the night of no fish. We also know what it is like to be in the presence of the risen Christ and to hear his guidance and follow it. Everything changes. We know the spiritual abundance that comes when we follow Christ. We know the difference in our lives when we turn from our own ways as Saul did and are given new life. We know the forgiveness and healing which our Lord gives to us and to others.

We have seen the risen Christ. We have gone to that shore where he was sitting quietly waiting, with the fire already built and the fish already cooked. We have been so glad to see him again. The word is spreading that he is risen and people have seen him, but to see him ourselves and to eat with him—and the net full of fish. Well, it is all true.

And he is calling us to spread the good news, to share the healing and joy of new life in him. And he feeds us, with fish cooked over the fire and with himself, the bread of heaven.

And he calls us to be his body, to feed his lambs, his sheep, his flock. May we look at others through his discerning and compassionate eyes, seeing the potential in every precious person. May we reach out to others with his healing and welcoming hands. May we embrace others with his loving arms.

 Amen.

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