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John 21:1-17

        Easter Sunday has come and gone, and so the numbers are down—from the original twelve to the terrified eleven to only seven in this story,  and to the “regulars” here in the pews.

        Easter Sunday has come and gone, and with it, perhaps, that fleeting surge of faith, that hopeful high, that rare “God moment,” and the willingness to risk trusting that life really can be new and different.

        Easter Sunday has come and gone, and, for all the hoopla, it’s hard to see what’s changed and so easy to give in to doubt and despair.

        Easter Sunday has come and gone, and already our open-heartedness has given way to head-talk.

        Easter Sunday has come and gone, and we’re ready to put Jesus back on the shelf.

        Easter Sunday, has come and gone, and so we might as well get back to “normal” life. We might as well go fishin’.


        Thank God for a church that says “not so fast,” and gives us 50 days of Easter: a full season for opening our lives to the promise and challenge of new life, a holy time to begin living into our identity as Easter people.

        Thank God for gospel stories that say “It is the Lord!,” encouraging us to recognize works of resurrection in our own lives.

        Thank God for a living, caring, still-questioning, ever-honest faith that considers the Easter story and says, “So what?” And, “Now what?”

        Thank God she is not done with us yet!

        Thank God that Spirit is still alive and active in our world!

        Thank God that God is not this or that, heart or head, biblical faith or progressive theology, or any other false dichotomy, but rather all in all—ground and source of all that is, more than we can ask or imagine.

         Thank God for a Risen Christ who lives with us and moves in us and among us: showing the way, forgiving our failings, soothing us in our broken places, nurturing our hopes, feeding our fragile faith, reminding us who we are, bringing us back into belonging, offering us strength, calling us to contribute what we have to the feast, calling us by name, calling us to life, calling us in love, calling us to love, calling us as partners in loving this beautiful and broken world in very particular and real ways.

        Thank God that we are called both individually and together.

        That is what the wise leaders of this church had in mind eight or nine years ago when they called us to a somewhat new and different way of being Christ’s risen body living and loving in this world—which, in truth, is an ancient way of understanding what it means to be church.

        This vision, and the still-evolving structure created to support it, recognizes that each of us has an important and equally vital role in loving and healing the world, in the feeding and tending of Christ’s sheep. Our leaders back then called it “every-member ministry” and, although we remind ourselves every Sunday that we are God’s hands and feet, the right hand doesn’t always know what the left is doing, and the elbows, knees and ribs are sometimes forgotten altogether.

        But the many of you have come to First Church since those early days of our still-new structure, may not even know that what every-member ministry is, or that we claim it as one of our foundational, shared spiritual practices. In short, every-member ministry means that every one of us, is an instrument in the world of the church’s good news of healing, reconciliation, new life, re-creation, justice and peace. It is not about making sure all the church “jobs” get done, but about recognizing every person’s role in resurrection, every person’s call to partner with Spirit in making all things new.

        And what better time could there be than Eastertide, the season of resurrection and new life, to consider and reconsider, to recognize and bless our individual callings and ministries?

        So that will be our common focus during these Great Fifty Days. My hope is that we will hear one another’s stories of passion and purpose, meaning and ministry, and that we will listen anew for God’s particular call on our lives. Then, on Pentecost Sunday (May 15), we will have a great festival of naming and honoring, blessing and commissioning.

        For now, though, let us gather around the fire and warm our weary bones. Let us share the feast that Jesus, grill chef extraordinaire, has prepared for us. Let our love be reawakened, kindled like so much fire, as the Risen Christ gathers us in his human arms, smoothing our brokenness with his pierced hands. Let us love not only in word, but in deed. Let us, like Peter, receive the holy commission to love, to feed, to tend all God’s children.

        Now and always, may we rejoice and give thanks that Christ is risen.