On Sunday 14th April David Hunt, our deacon, had lost his voice, so one of our local preachers, Rosemary Green stepped into the breech and led worship together with the able assistance of our worship leader Christine Bunting. We began worship with ‘Thine be the glory!’ after we reaffirmed the resurrection as Rosemary said; He is risen!’ We replied, ‘He is risen indeed! Alleluia!’ After Rosemary led the opening prayers Christine gave the talk to the children. She asked them what they had for breakfast and most replied porridge! Some had toast or eggs and some actually said, when prompted, they sometimes had fish, which she had been leading up to. She then told them of how Peter and the other disciples had returned to Galilee as the risen Lord had told them to and were wondering what to do, when Peter had suggested they go fishing. Unfortunately they had fished all night and caught nothing and as they returned to the shore rather disheartened they saw someone on the shore, who told them to put out again and let their nets down again and they caught 153 fish, which they brought into the shore. Peter recognised then that it was the Lord on the shore who had cooked some fish for their breakfast, knowing they would be hungry after toiling all night trying to catch fish and asked them to bring some of their fish to be cooked. Jesus knew just what they needed after their fruitless night’s work, and supplied them with food. Christine said Jesus met the disciples’ needs and we too are to look after each other and tell people about Jesus.
We then sang a hymn I had never sung before: ‘Lord, make me a mountain.’ The first reading was Psalm 30, a psalm of thanksgiving for recovery from great illness. Revelation 5v11-14 was also read which described worship in heaven in praise of the lamb. The gospel reading was John 21v1-19 on the reinstatement of Peter. We then sang a favourite hymn of mine; ‘Will you come and follow me’ by John Bell and Graham Maule from the Iona community.
Rosemary in her sermon reminded us of the traumatic period the disciples had just gone through and with which they were trying to come to terms; the shame and fear of Good Friday and the exhilaration of Easter Day. Jesus had come and gone, gone away and then come back and they did not know if they were coming or going. Now they had returned to Galilee as they had been told to and it was a time for reflection, recuperation and for waiting for directions on what to do next. They would most probably be feeling flat after the joy of seeing Jesus risen from the dead, as it had turned out better than they had expected but yet they still felt in limbo now they were home again. In Acts we are told that Jesus appeared several times to his disciples in the 40 days following the resurrection. What were they supposed to do, they felt as though they were back to square one; had the glory they had anticipated really come to nothing. Peter as Rosemary reminded us was the man of action so he suggested they go fishing for lack of anything better to do. However even after they fished all night they caught nothing; had they lost their skill or lost heart or were simply going through the motions? It all seemed fruitless and they felt discouraged until Jesus came to them as they were doing their daily work; perhaps no fish symbolised the emptiness of their lives now that Jesus was not constantly with them. It was only after the large catch of fish that they recognised the apparent stranger on the shore, who had prepared breakfast for them of fish; they had not recognised him by what he said, but rather by the result of following his instructions and his actions. Jesus did not look the same, yet he was able to eat and drink. The disciples, especially Peter would feel guilty after they had let Jesus down. Even though Jesus had forgiven them in the Upper Room, they would wish they had done things differently or even wished they could relive it and this time do it right. Jesus had forgiven them but had they forgiven themselves? Peter would feel even more ashamed because of his threefold denial, but Jesus still needed him and knew he would have to make a fresh start. Rosemary read from a meditation by Eddie Askew asking the question; ‘Do you love him more?’ Love of Jesus comes first and love changes things. Peter would have had conflicting emotions about what his relationship would be with his Lord; joy to see his Lord and yet the guilt about how after boasting that he would never desert Jesus, he had failed spectacularly when he denied even knowing him. Peter needed to be restored, but he felt hurt when Jesus questioned whether he loved him, not just once but 3 times. Jesus had offered Peter the chance of a new challenge, making him realise that Jesus knew that he loved him and he accepted Jesus’ instruction and reinstatement for the task ahead. He was called to be a shepherd of people as they began to follow Jesus. Peter had learnt how much God loved Jesus and became determined never again to let him down. We too are challenged to go forward to do the tasks Jesus is calling us to. We sang ‘Behold Jesus thy wandering sheep,’ before Christine led the prayers of intercession. Our service concluded as we sang; ‘O Jesus I have promised.’ It was a challenging and yet encouraging service.
A member of the choir came and showed me at the end of the service the words ‘Happy Birthday Gran’ on the front pews visible only to the choir where their granny Jenny Goodwin was singing! It was a lovely silent greeting which we all enjoyed.