This week is our final week covering “Resurrection Stories.” Next week we “Flash back” to when Jesus shared that he was sending the paraclete to be present with us in our work after the resurrection. Of course the disciples didn’t understand at the time, but it was made pretty obvious on the day of Pentecost! This year we celebrate Pentecost on May 31, and it will be the continuing work of the Holy Spirit to keep us united despite our distance!
But for this week, we hear Jesus offer Peter — the ROCK — redemption for his denials on the day of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion. And then another gentle reminder to: Follow Me. What does “Follow Me” and “Feed my Flock” look like in the time of Co-Vid?
Our Opening Hymn and the response to our sermon is a wonderful hymn with lyrics worth thinking about. The problem is with this hymn: lots of words, and it moves very fast! This week we will be singing different verses in two parts of the service. As an opening hymn, and to invite you into the theme of “follow me,” we hear the voice of God calling us into service:
Opening Hymn Will You Come and Follow Me (The Summons) Glory to God Hymnal, p 726, vs 1-3
“Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown; will you let my name be known;
will you let my life be known in you and you in me?”
“Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name?
Will you care for cruel and kind and never be the same?
Will you risk the hostile stare should your life attract or scare?
Will you let me answer prayer in you and you in me?”
“Will you let the blinded see if I but call your name?
Will you set the prisoners free and never be the same?
Will you kiss the leper clean, and do such as this unseen,
and admit to what I mean in you and you in me?”
Our sermon focuses on Peter’s guilt and grief, which Jesus addresses with the comfort of food and fellowship in John 21 (a continuation of last week’s reading). Something was holding Peter back. Something was keeping him from serving God in the way Jesus had called him to. Peter had returned to fishing because it was comfortable and he was pretty good at it. He was not comfortable with becoming a leader, the one to build the Resurrected Body of Christ into the Church; thus Jesus’ gentle reminder to “Cast your nets on the other side of the boat.”Then in a meaningful one-on-on discussion, Jesus asks Peter three times “Do you love me?” We know the story — we know Peter says “Yes, Lord! You know I love you.” It’s the same answer we give when Jesus calls to us, “Do you love me?” But just affirming our adoration and love of Jesus is not enough; Jesus calls for action — “Feed my sheep; tend my flock; feed my lambs.” Then Jesus simply adds, “Follow Me.” That’s our dilemma these days. How do we “Follow” in this time of Co-Vid? We have always been a congregation that loves to worship together; this week we really contemplate that Jesus never once said “Worship me.” He asked of Peter and the discples, and he asks of us to “Follow me.” CEH has found a new way to use her building and the beautiful space we have been given. You’ll get to see just how this is working out in a new ministry in the footage at the end of our sermon as we have figured out how to “Cast our nets on the other side of the boat.”
Here then, are the lyrics to the fourth and fifth verses of that same hymn — The Summons. Imagine verse four is Jesus calling you and questioning you; your answer is verse five.
“Will you love the ‘you’ you hide if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you’ve found to reshape the world around,
through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?”
Lord, your summons echoes true when you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you and never be the same.
In your company I’ll go where your love and foot steps show.
Thus I’ll move and live and grow in you and you in me.
I hope slowing these lyrics down and giving you a chance to ponder them prior to worship on YouTube on Sunday will help make the service more meaningful to you. We work very hard to make a theme evident through each worship service, and knowing it in advance perhaps will help that theme “stick” a little more.
I’m getting ready to offer a few more fellowship opportunities via zoom for our adults. These will be based around interests, so stay tuned. Some thoughts are moving our “Sinners & Skeptics” class to Zoom for engaging and challenging discussion about our doubts and fears and questions. Other opportunities will be about parenthood support, grief support, etc. Please let me know what you are interested in by texting, calling, or emailing me personally. I really miss connecting with each and every one of you each week. I want to support and encourage your during this time, so I pray you will reach out if you are struggling or drowning or even just feeling a little lost.
Peace in Christ,