Good morning, church family! Today I am going to try on melding my preaching styles for both 9am Family Worship and 10:30 worship. So, today, you will hear some well researched teaching, and when I ask questions, you are invited to shout out whatever answer comes to you. I will also be holding up some objects during my sermon. If you are not able to see them well during worship, feel free to stop by this table on your way out to take a peak. So, with that I think we are ready to really begin.

When I first got into ministry over ten years ago as a Director of Christian Education, and began teaching this story we just heard to kiddos, I would often call it “breakfast on the beach”. I have always loved teaching this story for a couple of reasons. One, is because it reminds me of the very early morning fishing trips to the beach in my youth. (hold up picture of us fishing) My dad would take my older brother and I to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We would greet the sunrise while we set up for a long day of surf fishing. Maybe it was the way the sun joined us peaking slowly at first over the horizon of the ocean, or maybe it was that my dad always let me eat donuts with frosting and sprinkles on these mornings, or maybe it was the peace I have always felt on the water… but this story of Jesus teaching and being with the disciples one last time has always touched my heart. The second reason I have always loved teaching this story is that it also reminds me of the bigger message that the Gospel of John teaches us… to love one another as Jesus loves us.

Today we find ourselves at the very end of the Gospel of John. Well, almost, there are only a few more verses that come after this section we just heard. Sometimes this part is called the Epilogue, which means “a section or speech at the end of a book or play that serves as a comment on or a conclusion to what has happened.” (oxford dictionary) A final section that really helps us to know the full intent of what we have just experienced. In the chapter just before this, Jesus has commissioned his disciples. He has officially told them what their work is as disciples and told them to go and do it! Here though, the disciples are back to work as fishermen. (hold up picture of disciples fishing) The job they had before they started following Jesus. Perhaps as a way to comfort themselves with something they know well after all they experienced in the final week with Jesus and when he was killed.

For me, one of the interesting details about this story is how the disciples seem to know it is Jesus only once they have met with success. Once they follow the direction to cast their nets on the other side of the boat, and their nets become rather full, they then know it is Jesus who is standing on the shore and giving them direction. So, they realize it is Jesus, and Peter, rather dramatically, jumps in and swims to shore, and then the rest make their way to land to be with Jesus on the beach sharing in a meal of bread and fish. Anyone have any idea of another story we may be reminded of by way of their meal of bread and fish? (hold up bread and fish)

If you guessed the miracle of abundance where Jesus blessed the small amount of bread and fish and fed the many, many people gathered you got it! This story of the loaves and fish and the story of the breakfast on the beach are the reminder that God is a God who wants us to have abundant life in Them. God wants us to have a lot of love, a lot of justice, a lot of peace, a lot of feeling like a family with one another, a lot taking care of one another, and a lot of receiving care from one another. God wants A LOT for us! (hold up heart)

We also get a sense of just how much God wants for us by way of the conversation between Jesus and Peter. In this story, Jesus very clearly names Peter as the leader. And as Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves him, we get a sense that his answer of saying three times, “Yes, Jesus you know I love you!” sort of undos when Peter denied Jesus three times (JANT, 196). You might remember that when Jesus was on trial Peter told folks three different times that he did not know or follow Jesus. I appreciate that Peter is met with the love and affirmation of Jesus in this way. It is a reminder that even when we make mistakes, even when our big feelings get in the way of our faith, like Peter’s fear did, we are still loved and Jesus can still work through us in the world. We simply need to turn back to Jesus and say, “Yes, Jesus I do love you”.

Are you starting to see how this story helps to get that message of the Gospel of John…love for one another just like Jesus loves us? These final teachings of Jesus in this Gospel help us to know for sure what we are supposed to be up to as followers of Jesus. We are supposed to take care of people, especially people who are harmed by the systems of the world. (picture of many different people) People who don’t have enough to eat, people who are treated badly because of the color of their skin, or the ways they choose to identify the bodies they live in, people who aren’t given the opportunities to make the money they need to have enough of what they need to stay healthy. We are meant to tend to what people need both physically and spiritually. We aren’t promised safety or goods in return, we are promised love…the love of Jesus, who loves absolutely,  flowing in the world through one another.

So, I wonder… (now, here is the time for you to do a lot of shouting out your own thoughts, feelings, and ideas)

I wonder what it feels or looks like for you to be cared for? Like when someone feeds you? (hold up picture of food) 

What does it feels or looks like when someone shows you love? (hold up heart) 

I wonder what it looks and feels like for us to do these things for others as we follow Jesus?

I wonder how we might feed the lambs?

I wonder how we might share God’s love with everyone?

May it be so!