Normal is Dead—Resurrection Appearances

Scripture Focus: 1 Timothy 5.22
Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.

John 21.17 
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.

*This Easter week as we shelter in our homes due to COVID-19, we may feel more like the disciples than we ever have before. We continue to look this week at the appearances of Jesus, who comes to us as we seek normalcy to call us to something greater.

Reflection: Normal is Dead—Resurrection Appearances
By John Tillman

Scripture doesn’t tell us why Peter went fishing but it is not hard to imagine he needed a touch of normalcy. 

The disciples had been through a panoply of trauma and the familiar labor would be calming to them. Rope and oar and sail and sea (whatever those are to us) can provide an escape and a rhythm of distraction amidst a world of confusion.

This was an outspoken group of disciples—the loudmouths and extroverts. Besides Peter, there was Nathaneal, the sarcastic wisecracker, Thomas, the last to believe and first to call Jesus “my God,” James and John, who thought they should be closest to Jesus on his throne, and two unnamed disciples, one of whom is probably Andrew, Peter’s brother.

From Jerusalem to the Sea of Tiberius was about a 100-mile walk. Perhaps they had already left the city to go home. Perhaps they had access to faster transportation. John doesn’t elaborate. But it wasn’t a casual afternoon of fishing as a pastime. Some believe this trip implied Peter was resuming his prior occupation and giving up the ministry.

Then Jesus appears, sitting on the shore, pointing out the flaws in their plan. “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” This appearance is a callback—a reminder—of the initial callings of these fishermen and particularly of Peter. “You are fishing in the wrong place again, Peter. You aren’t even fishing for the right species. I called you to fish for people, remember?”

We all feel the cry for normalcy rising in us now. We just want to go back to work. Back to school. Back to self-reliance. Back to the illusion of safety and security in our own power and the world’s systems.

No matter how much we long for normalcy, the life Jesus called us to is not normal. Many foundations we’ve built on are being swept away and we can’t go back to pretending that our sand was a firm foundation after all. There are things about our normal that shouldn’t return.

Peter was unworthy when Jesus first called him and unworthy when he was reinstated. So are we. But Jesus forgave and reinstated Peter with a new normal and he can do the same for us. 

What is the new normal that Jesus is calling you to? What new rhythms might you discover during this time that are healthier spiritually than what you were doing before quarantine? What has quarantine taken from you that you can now let go of?

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Know this: The Lord himself is God; he himself has made us, and we are his; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture. — Psalm 100.2

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Ecclesiastes 3 (Listen -3:02)
1 Timothy 5 (Listen -3:22)

Read more about Remember Jesus Christ
Remembering the good news of the risen Christ provides perspective for our lives.

Read more about Recalling the Failures
It is not just Peter who is reinstated in the last chapter of John’s gospel and our last reading of this year. Other disciples who failed famously are there—Thomas who doubted, Nathanael the cynical elitist, the power-hungry sons of Zebedee. These confused and doubtful disciples are going back to the familiar when they are met by a familiar face on the shore.

Reflecting the Unity of Christ :: Worldwide Prayer

Exodus 40.15
Their anointing will be to a priesthood that will continue throughout their generations.

John 19.15
“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.

From John:
We close this week of Lent with a prayer for unity and harmony that comes from the country of Lebanon. The book of prayers this was taken from was published in 1998, in conjunction with a worship conference in Berlin at which I was privileged to minister and attend. At that time, Lebanon was struggling with the effects of a civil war that started with sectarian violence, the effects of which are still felt today. The prayers for unity and peace coming from our brothers and sisters worshiping in places where violence is as common as bad traffic, are especially to be emulated and repeated by us, and treasured by our Heavenly Father.

Reflection: Reflecting the Unity of Christ :: Worldwide Prayer
Prayer for harmony from Lebanon

My Lord and Heavenly Father, I thank you for the opportunity of worship with members of the worldwide Christian family, across barriers of every kind that separate people and keep them apart. This reflects our unity in Christ.

Lord, when we worship together it is a revival of Pentecost, as your Holy Spirit elevates our prayers before your Holy Throne, while also making us aware of each others’ pain and suffering. Dear Lord, mold us into that perfect image that reflects the beauty of Christ in a broken world.

Bless us in our worship to feel your presence, to open our hearts and minds, to be really in touch with you. Help us not to wander away from your presence.

May each one of us really feel your powerful love so that we can share it with others. Help us to share the blessings of knowing you with others and be at peace with you and with each other.

In Jesus’ Holy name we lift our voices of praise with thankfulness.

*Prayer from Hallowed be Thy Name, L. A. (Tony) Cupit, ed., Hallowed be Your Name: A collection of prayers from around the world

Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Let not those who hope in your be put to shame through me, Lord God of hosts; let not those who seek you be disgraced because of me, O God of Israel. — Psalm 69.7

Today’s Readings
Exodus 40 (Listen – 4:07)
John 19 (Listen – 6:23)

This Weekend’s Readings
Leviticus 1 (Listen – 2:37) John 20 (Listen – 4:17)
Leviticus 2-3 (Listen – 4:43) John 21 (Listen – 3:58)

Thank You!
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Read more about Blossoming of Joy in Adversity
We find examples of joy under persecution and difficulty in Jesus, Peter, John, Paul, and many others in scripture. But examples are also blossoming amidst persecution around the world.

Read more about The Wrong Fear
Christian thought has always been extremist thought. It is a revolutionary rejection of the world’s power structure. Jesus was crucified for extremist thought. It was Christian extremist thought that brought down slavery.

Recalling the Failures

John 21.17-19
He said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep….Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

Reflection: Recalling the Failures
By John Tillman

There are many meanings of the word recall.

Industries recall products that are flawed, defective, or dangerous. Employees and representatives can be recalled from their positions when they have an embarrassing failure.

At this reflective time of year we, individually and collectively, recall both good memories and bad. We tend to focus on the bad.

Christ sees more failure in us than even we know, yet he re-calls us—he calls us to himself again, and again, and again. Christ re-calls the failures.

It is not just Peter who is reinstated in the last chapter of John’s gospel and our last reading of this year. Other disciples who failed famously are there—Thomas who doubted, Nathanael the cynical elitist, the power-hungry sons of Zebedee. These confused and doubtful disciples are going back to the familiar when they are met by a familiar face on the shore.

Once in a parable, Jesus said, “they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead,” and he meant it. One thing that rings so true about the gospel accounts is that the disciples are slow to believe and understand what has happened, even after seeing Jesus alive.

The resurrected Jesus is patient with them, staying around, appearing to the disciples over and over. He slowly and lovingly works to overcome their doubts and fears and reissue his call on their lives. And he is lovingly patient with us as well.

Christ’s message of reinstatement is for all of us. He doesn’t see our failures as the world sees them.

The world calls us a bad debt. Jesus redemptively reinvests in us.
The world sees us as the sum of our shortcomings. Jesus adds himself to our equation and calls us to our eternal future.
The world wants to put us back in our place after failure. Jesus comes to us with a second (third, fourth, fifth…) calling.
The world wants us to compare our calling to others. Jesus rejects comparisons and personally invites us to a unique path.

The failures of the past year, or any year, are not our end, but our beginning. Jesus brings hope to our aftermath. Hope amidst our confusion. Jesus speaks calm and welcoming words to the anger prone. He feeds the weary and hungry. He comforts the hurting and troubled. He washes away the doubts of the disbelieving.

Jesus has a following—a following of failures. Join us, won’t you?

*When looking back at your year, do so with insight into your failures from the Holy Spirit, but also with his redemptive grace and love. The Prayer of Examen is a wonderful tool of reflective prayer. We recommend it daily or weekly. But the practice can be adapted to review this year in the light of God’s grace. For more information about the prayer, follow this link. Take your time in an examen prayer, especially when reviewing a long period. Set aside time this evening or tomorrow to spend in this practice.

Prayer: The Greeting
Happy are they whom you choose and draw to your courts to dwell there! They will be satisfied by the beauty of your house, by the holiness of your temple. — Psalm 65:4

– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Prayers from The Divine Hours available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Malachi 4 (Listen – 1:06)
John 21 (Listen – 3:58)

Tomorrow’s Readings (Happy New Year!)
Genesis 1 (Listen – 4:55)
Matthew 1 (Listen – 3:29)

Additional Reading
Read More about Prayer for Busy People
Central to the practice of healthy, gospel-centered prayer is the awareness of God’s presence in and around our lives. The Prayer of Examen, was designed to be prayed even when the necessities of life made other forms of prayer impossible.

Read More about The Beautiful Feet of Lepers
This is the gospel—that terrorists can be healed and saved and the rejects of society can bring the news of salvation and the testimony of victory unimaginable to their city.

How far will you travel in God’s Word this year?
On January 1st we restart our two year Bible reading plan in Genesis and the Gospel of Matthew. Join us on the journey. We read the Old Testament over two years and the New Testament and Psalms each year.

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Where will a journey through the Bible take your faith in the coming year? Jesus calls each of us, saying, “Follow me.”

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