Posts Tagged ‘Peter’

Sunday April 18, 2010

  • Season: Eastertide
  • Sermon: Follow Me
  • Scripture: John 21: 15 -22
  • Songs:

9:30AM Service

  1. Rejoice
  2. Awesome is The Lord Most High
  3. Our God Saves
  4. I Surrender (sorry, can’t find a link to the version we do yet)

11:00AM Service

  1. Crown Him With Many Crowns
  2. I Surrender (same version I can’t find)

I mentioned on Sunday that had I thought of it before bulletins and slides were made, I would have entitled this sermon “The New Normal”.  This phrase I am completely stealing from a friend of mine.  Several years ago this friend lost his father to cancer.  When I asked him how he was doing he said, “we are learning to live in the new normal.”  That struck me on a hundred different levels.  What really stands out for me today is how often when we are faced with something significant in our lives that we cannot quite process, our default mode is to go back to doing something normal as if the event never happened. That may work for a little while, but the reality is that the old normal is long gone and if we are ever to begin living healthy, we must step into the “new normal”.

When reading this passage about Peter and the disciples I am struck by how much their default mode is kicking in.  They are trying to process the events of the last several days (weeks?).  Grant it, not an easy thing to do.  First they enter into Jerusalem with their leader Jesus.  Jesus is praised.  I imagine the disciples were floating on this recognition and wondering if Jesus was about to take over everything.  Then Jesus is betrayed, convicted of  crimes he did not commit, beaten, and crucified.  Peter moves from being the valiant, if not ineffective knight, who declares his loyalty and tries to kill one of the guards succeeding in only missing the guards head and catching his ear, betraying all the teachings of Jesus in that moment, having his master yell at him to stop in front of his enemies, and then running off and denying ever knowing his beloved to the point of cursing his very name.  Not a good turn of events for any of the disciples.  They didn’t know it was going to be a last supper to them it was just, “supper”.

Now, three days after Jesus’ execution, he returns from the dead and shows up among the disciples in a locked room.  Surprise!  Then he is off again appearing to others and then once more back on the shores of Galilee where he finds the disciples off shore fishing.   When Jesus first met these men, they were doing the same things and I suppose now, they are simply attempting to figure out what normal is by going back to doing something they thought they were good at.  Now that I think about it,  I do not remember one story in scripture that ever paints these disciples as good boating men.   Anyhow, Jesus calls out to them, shows them were to throw their nets and they recognize him once more.

Once they are ashore, the Gospel writer John spends more time with Peter and Jesus.  When I look at this dialogue between Jesus and Peter, I still see the comparison of Peter denying Jesus 3 time and Jesus asking if Peter loves him 3 times, but I do not see this as God doubting or chastising Peter.  What I find is a wakeup call to Peter expressing all things are new.  They cannot and should not start over, but they do begin fresh.  Where once Jesus gave a man named Simon the name Peter, he calls him Simon once more as if to say let us make a fresh start and move beyond living in betrayal to living in forgiveness and life.  In a similar way, the writer John reminds us that these men were once fishers of men, but now Jesus has something more in store; he calls them shepherds.  I new vocational title for a new creation.  The New Normal does not have then returning to the old things as if nothing has changed, you see everything has changed now.  There is a new way to live and it can only be found when one first finds themselves in the forgiving presence of the Christ who defeated death.  From there we step into a new normal where death no longer has sting and we have something good to shout about.  As we are embraced by THE SHEPHERD, we become little shepherds coming along side those in this world who need a touch of grace.  Living in the New Normal makes this possible.  Hopefully here in this community or where ever your faith community rests, we might all be uplifted by one another to live in the new creation Christ has inaugurated through his death and resurrection.  It is not complete yet, but we can begin living in his rule today.

The biggest mistake many people make in having a relationship with Christ is that they try to take their new encounter with God and apply it to their old life, as if God were a kind of clothing we wrap around ourselves in certain weather.  Jesus, however, calls us to lay down our life and follow him.  It is difficult to make sense of God if we try to apply to our old way of living.  Jesus calls us to rename us and set us on a vision of life.  This means a life of following Christ.  Are you ready to live in a “new normal”?


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