Sunday, June 8, 2014
FEED MY LAMBS
Lamb of God, St. Louis, MO
I’ve been patiently waiting ever since the end of last year for some inspiration to select a theme for this year’s stewardship messages at our church in Jamestown. In that same passage of time, I made the decision to join two of our past senior pastors and our bishop on an upcoming pilgrimage of the Holy Land where Jesus walked, taught and modeled life and death. This commitment led me to download an e-book by James Martin, a Franciscan priest, detailing his own experiences and inspirations on such a trip titled Jesus, a Pilgrimage. If you can’t make the trip for all sorts of reasons, this book can take you there.
One of the first places Martin visited was one of the last places mentioned in the Gospels. As it turns out, many of the holy places seem to be approximations of the exact spot where significant events occurred, given the eroding and shifting sands of time and the nature of this land. A modest grey stone chapel, the Church of the Primacy of Peter, was erected on this land in 1933, incorporating the walls of a structure built in the fourth century. Inside is a low, undulating cream-colored rock the size of a kitchen table called the Table of Christ. Here tradition tells us that the resurrected Jesus stood at the shoreline of the Sea of Galilee or Tiberias and called to his disciples including Peter to join him in an ordinary breakfast of fish and bread. I’ll be content to stand anywhere on this shoreline and ponder this extraordinary sunrise moment.
Interestingly, the disciples who had spent such intimate times with Jesus didn’t initially recognize him. Such was the case with most of the Gospel stories about those encountering an entirely new creation in the universe—one that both you and I will receive. Once Jesus tells Peter to cast his net to the right (as with their first meeting) it’s full of fish. The scene is reminiscent of the feeding of the 5,000 nearby with five loaves and two fish to invite folks to encounter God. Peter has been dealing with the reality that he turned away from Jesus at his trial and his loss of a close friend, so he went fishing. Jesus offers Peter forgiveness, on the cross and here at the seaside, and lets Peter atone for the three times he denied him.
Jesus’ response to Peter for the three times He asks if he loves Him is to instruct him to “feed my lambs and follow me”. Jesus is telling Peter to respond to His love for mankind by being their shepherd. He is offering forgiveness and asking an imperfect person to share the teachings and love he has experienced to help all of the lambs or children of our Heavenly Father—to “feed my sheep and follow me”. He was handing off the baton to continue his stated mission; “The Human One came to seek and save the lost."
A wonderful inspiration for stewardship!