MESSAGE: Third Sunday in Easter 1 May 2022
How have you been living as Resurrection people?
How have you seen the Lord? The Risen Lord. We participate in the resurrection called and commissioned. Now go and live this resurrection life as shown by Jesus.
All the readings in the Lectionary this week speak of living with a sense of call. This does not mean that we all have to be apostles, or become ordained, full-time ministers in the church. Rather, it means that, as we embrace the resurrected way of life, we discover that our lives are not random. How we live and what we do matter. The small actions, attitudes, words, and thoughts that fill our days can contribute to revealing God’s Reign in our world, or they can help to keep God’s Reign hidden. When we embrace the resurrection not just as a past, historical event, but as a calling to live daily in the power of God’s life, then our lives make a positive difference in the world. In this sense, we are all called.
When we make the resurrection nothing more than a past miracle, or a hope for a future life after death, we rob it of its power to impact our lives now. This is why the Scriptures constantly call us to see the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus as a journey that we must also experience. Each day gives us an opportunity to release our own desires, agendas, and self-protectiveness, and to be raised to a life that is centred around the love, justice, and grace of God. Each day offers us a chance to share God’s life with those around us. And each day offers us the gift of experiencing God’s love for ourselves a little more. When we receive these opportunities with gratitude and mindfulness, we discover that everything we do is filled with a sense of meaning, purpose and life. This is what it means to live a called life.
This week we will meditate on living with the sense of call that comes from a daily experience of God’s resurrection life.
Today’s scriptures are filled with Call and Commission.
As we look at the Acts passage, we see that Jesus turns the heart of Saul from someone who hurled persecution into someone who would recognise that Jesus only the risen saviour can turn persecutors into promoters.
Only Jesus can turn enemies engaged and suffocating the gospel to those being engaged at the strongest supporters and only Jesus can move a person from antagonist into the position of apostle for the sake of the gospel.
The basic elements of the story of Peter’s restoration are very well known. Peter is restored/redeemed: Peter x 3 then do you love me – feed my lambs Saul, Thomas, Peter can be redeemed/restored (anyone can!!) Then denial at the charcoal fire, redemption at the charcoal fire on the beach. In Luke’s Gospel, the call of Peter comes when Jesus shows him how to catch a large quantity of fish. Now, in John’s Gospel, the resurrected Jesus does the same thing as a precursor to renewing Peter’s call. Then, after cooking breakfast for the disciples, Jesus asks three times if Peter loves him – once for each denial – and Peter responds that he does. Each time Jesus instructs Peter to feed his sheep. Finally, Jesus makes it clear that Peter’s life will no longer be guided by his own desires and agendas, but by those of Jesus’ mission. He also implies that Peter will die in a similar way to his own death – which, history tells us is what happened (Peter was crucified upside down). Finally, Jesus repeats the classic words of call: “Follow me”. This early morning encounter between is a story of immense grace and love, and it reminds us that nothing can place us beyond the reach of God’s mercy. While Peter’s call was unique, it is also a model for how we are all called. The basis for Peter’s call is not his ability, or “goodness”. He is called because of the love and grace of Jesus. The call is not for his own sake, but in order that Jesus’ “sheep” – his followers – might be nourished. And finally, the call is to follow Jesus – to live with the same compassion, justice and grace that Jesus did. All of this applies to every one of us. We are all called because of God’s grace. We are all called to nourish and care for one another. And we are called to follow the life and mission of Jesus. How is God calling you to follow Jesus today?
When we gather for worship, we usually have a call to worship at the start of our gathering. This is not just about helping us to focus on Jesus for the next hour. It’s a reminder that our whole life is called to connect with and reflect God’s life. Throughout today, remind yourself that you are called to worship God in every word, thought and action.
I hear your call, Jesus, and I commit to following you
Count my sheep – NO, feed my sheep.