Sunday, 20 May 2012 ~ “Love is an ACTION Word”

Scriptures:            Acts 1:8-9, 15-17, 21-26                    John 21:1-14

 LET US PRAY:  God of grace and glory ~ open our ears to hear Your Word; open our hearts to become Your Living Word to each other.  Amen.

GOSPEL story brings to mind such vivid imagesANDdraws us right into the action ~

  • Disciples ‘hanging out’ … they have seen the risen Lord BUT not sure what to do now … totally at loose ends … perhaps even a bit depressed.
  • Fall back on what they know best … FISHING!  Peter declares his intention and rest figure they might as well go along with him … nothing else happening here!
  • Fishing trip has been miserable failure … throwing nets from both sides of boatALLnight with NO results
    • ANYONE EVER FISHED?  ANYONE EVER HAD AN EXPERIENCE  LIKE THIS?  We understand their frustration and increased depression.
  • Finally … dawn breaking ~ heading back to shore ~ not 1 lousy fish to show for their efforts … “stranger on beach calls out … “Didn’t catch anything, huh?!”
    • Words merely add insult to injury!!!
  • Stranger then says:  “Throw nets out RIGHT side of the boat!”
  • Disciples had to have tried this … but they follow instructions … and haul in the biggest catch of their lives … 153 HUGE FISH!  And, miraculously, nets don’t break!
    • I’d have been happy with 1 or 2 large fish SO we can imagine how they NOW felt!

It is IN the MIDST OF THEIR JOY … that 1 disciple finally recognizes the “stranger” on the beach … IT’S THE LORD!

  • Peter hastily puts his clothes back onANDsplashes ashore … other disciples left to “beach” the boat and bring in their catch of fish … joyously greet Jesus who has a charcoal fire going
  • Jesus invites them to breakfast … broiled fish and warm, toasty bread … and even asks them to share some of their fish
    • EVER eaten breakfast cooked over open fire?  Sitting by the water, talking & laughing & sharing with Jesus like old times ~ it must have been “heavenly!”

We love to focus on antics and actions of disciples ~ probably because we identify with them the most.  HOWEVER, critical part of the story is what Jesus is doing … He:

  • Comes to meet them, where they are at that moment
  • Advises a better spot to achieve their goal of catching fish
  • Feeds them physically with food (same meal He fed 5,000 with)
  • Feeds them emotionally with His presence and spiritually with His words
  • Removes fears and doubts and troubles from their hearts and minds

BUT: just as Jesus came and met the disciples right where they were after that fateful fishing trip … Jesus comes to meet us all EXACTLY where we are at any given moment in our lives.

Let’s face it:  We, too, have troubles … in our families we face:

  • Poor health; failing health; aging relatives; “Who takes care of who & How?”
  • Money worries over how do we feed our families; afford school; pay mortgage; replace broken/run-down appliances, cars … “How do we stretch our limited $$$”
  • Injustices and inequalities in communities and around world … “How do I, one person, fight these issues?  Change these issues?

BUT: take another look at the Gospel … Jesus didn’t worry if he had enough bread or fish … He simply put his love for his tired and discouraged friends into action and made breakfast for them … which must have been the best tasting food they ever ate after their discouraging night on the water.

At the same time, Jesus invited them to share some of their “catch” so they could share in the experience of feeding each other.  In essence, Jesus invited them to put THEIR love into action by sharing some of what they had on hand.

And, by doing this, Jesus demonstrated that LOVE isn’t just a bunch of pretty words, but, rather: LOVE DOES.

LOVE DOES just also happens to be the title of a wonderful book I purchased while at the Clergy Convocation last week.  I’d like to share a few snippets from the author’s firs chapter: … (see attached)

In other words:  Love is not something that is stationary OR rooted in one place.  Rather:

LOVE is an ACTION WORD … and best expressed in what we DO!

We know how God put His love into action …

  • Creating the u7niverse and everything in it.
  • Giving Noah the plans to build an ark and survive the flood
  • Sending Moses to free the Israelites from slavery inEgypt
  • Feeding the Israelites in the wilderness with manna and meat and fresh water

And, in time, God sent His only Son so that all who believed in Him may not perish but will have eternal life.

  • Jesus ~ born of Mary and Joseph
  • Whose adult ministry … devoted to teaching … feeding … healing … loving everyone so much that he would DIE … BE BURIED … RISE from the dead … ASCEND into heaven … and ultimately fulfill His promise by sending the Holy Spirit into the world ~ to be our guide and constant companion.

THINK ofALLthe action words that might be covered by sharing what we know about what Jesus calls us to be and DO in our world and life …

  • Cook a meal                             Visit a homebound or sick member
  • Call a friend                              Write a letter TO or FOR someone
  • Drive a neighbor to appt.           Tell our stories about life, church, faith, work
  • Crochet, knit                             Teach
  • Sing                                         Play an instrument
  • Paint                                         Build
  • Play                                          Act
  • Lead                                         Carve
  • Wash ~ car, clothes, dishes       Shop, buy stuff
  • Mow                                        Shovel

BOTTOMLINE:  AnythingANDEverything that we do as an “action” word … when it is directed toward a particular person OR shared with someone.  And, it is an even more powerful experience when what we do is done because Jesus first showed us how … and then told us to do it: “Go and make disciples … Go and love your neighbor … Go and love God by what we do and … then share that story with others.”

My friends, may even our most ordinary tasks become holy actions that bear witness to the life, love and on-going presence of Jesus in our world.  Amen.

Excerpt from LOVE DOES ~ Chapter 1, “I’m with You”

The author, Bob Goff, tells of the time when, while still in high school, he met Randy.  Randy had 3 things author didn’t have: a Triumph motorcycle, a beard, and a girlfriend.  Randy was a Christian and worked for an organization called Young Life.  This seemed to make it OK that Randy hung out near the high school and talked to the students.

The author claims he was a “lousy” student; so he planned to drop out of high school, move toYosemiteand spend his days climbing the massive granite cliffs ~ even though he had no experience as a rock climber.

At the beginning of his junior year, he packed up his down vest, 2 red bandannas, a pair of rock climbing shoes, $75 into his VW bug … figuring he could find work in the valley and spend his off time in the mountains.  First thing on a Sunday morning, he drove to Randy’s house … to say goodbye and tell him he was leaving.

When Randy finally answered the door ~ rather groggy ~ he listened to Bob’s story in silence … then said: “Wait here ~ I have to check something out.”  Bob waited on the porch and finally Randy returned … with a tattered backpack over 1 shoulder and a sleeping bag in his hand.  “Bob, I’m with you,” he said.

Bob was amazed because Randy didn’t try to talk him out of his plan … didn’t say he was throwing away his opportunities and should stay in high school … just said, “I’m with you.”  And climbed into the car with Bob.

Late that day they arrived inYosemite… and only then did they realize they had no place to stay.  So, with very little money, they snuck in through the back of a platform tent in a pay-per-night camp site.  The next morning … with glorious sight of El Capitan andYosemite valleystretching out before them … Bob went into town to find a job.  Randy went with him.

Bob tried theCampCurrycompany cafeteria … no luck.  He tried half of the shops in town … no luck.  In between, he tried his ‘hand’ at climbing a rock wall … no luck.  Discouraged, Bob returned to his car and told Randy about what had happened.  Instead of lecturing him, Randy merely said, “Bob, you can do anything you want.  You have the right stuff.  And, I am with you.”  Again, they snuck into the back of a rent-per-night tent.

The next day was a miserable repeat of the previous day.  Bob finally admitted that, with only a few dollars left, he would go home and finish high school.  Randy merely said: “No matter what you decide: I’m with you.”  When they finally reached Randy’s home, Bob found the living room filled with boxes that were filled with china, microwaves, coffee pots … and Randy’s girlfriend greeting him with: “Welcome home, honey!”

Bob suddenly realized that these were wedding presents and that Randy and his girlfriend had just gotten married.  When Bob knocked on Randy’s front door … Randy wasn’t focused on anything but a kid who needed a friend and companion.  Consequently, some of the first days of Randy’s marriage were spent sneaking into a tent and helping a teen who needed a guiding hand and friend.

The author says that, what he learned most was: just as he needed a friend at that time, Jesus is always with us … in our times of joy and most especially in our times of doubt and trials … calling to us, feeding us, sitting patiently with us, and just loving us ~ no matter what.

As the author says:  “What I learned from Randy reinforced the simple truth that continues to weave itself into the tapestry of every great story:  LOVE DOES!”

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