Third Sunday of Ester
The Second Sunday of Easter
April 29, 2019
On Easter Sunday, our church congregation gathered around a campfire in the early morning hours. Enveloped in a foggy, cold mist, we eagerly celebrated the risen Son while also awaiting the rising sun. As we sang and prayed together, I read John 21:1-14 in preparation for Holy Communion. Even though we stood around a campfire in the middle of urban Indianapolis, imagining Jesus cooking fish around the campfire on the shores of the Sea of Galilee was not too difficult. Had we read further in John 21, many of us might have even recognized our own stories of calling. Countering Peter’s three-fold denial of Jesus, Jesus decrees a three-fold reinstatement and commissioning of Peter: ”Do you love me?…Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17). Jesus the Good Shepherd who had conquered death, was concerned and committed to his sheep, and invited Peter – and us – to be the ones who feed and take care of them.
One might wonder what exactly Jesus meant by such a nebulous command, but it seems the disciples had no question. We immediately observe them obediently at work in the book of Acts. They are “feeding his sheep” by teaching about Jesus’ resurrection, proclaiming the good news, and with rejoicing, worthily suffering disgrace for his Name’s sake (Acts 5). I imagine the disciples might have even sung Psalm 30 in the midst of their trials and sufferings. “Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me…Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name…You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.” (Ps 30:2,4,11-12).
While the apostles’ specific teachings about Jesus may have been unique, their messages joined in with a chorus of praises to God. For centuries God’s people declared God’s praises – in good times and bad, in rejoicing and lamenting, in individual and communal proclamation. At times such proclamations happened in defiance of human decrees, yet at all times such proclamations happened in obedience to the Lord. And it is these choruses of praise which will continue unto all eternity, expanding and growing in participation until they include “the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand…[and]…every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them” (Rev 5:11,13a). What began as God’s single voice, speaking creation into existence and declaring it good and very good, will culminate in the entirety of that renewed creation declaring his goodness. “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” (Rev 5:13b).
In this Easter season we celebrate Christ’s resurrection. Indeed, it is a critical moment in the unfolding story of God; it is a moment that changes everything. Yet, it is also a singular moment contained within a larger story of praise and proclamation through the centuries; a story that continues today and into the yet-to-be-fully-revealed Kingdom of God. Let us hear Jesus’ question and command to Peter again: ”Do you love me?…Feed my sheep.” They are also spoken to us. May we also be like the apostles who diligently went about the task of feeding sheep through their teaching, proclamation and praise, until our voices eventually join the final chorus described in Revelation.
For Reflection and Discussion:  In Acts, we see how Peter lived into his calling of feeding and caring for sheep. What does that look like in your context? How do you feed and care for Jesus’ sheep?  The apostles could not remain silent about what they witnessed – even if it was to their detriment. What truths about the Lord must you not remain silent about? Why?  This week’s Sunday Liturgy readings beautifully depict a broad spectrum of singing the Lord’s praises – from the Psalms, to Acts, to Revelation. How does connecting these praise-events impact how you understand the larger picture of God’s story in Scripture?
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