May 3 Virch Service - Reservoir Church
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Resurrection: Signs of Life and Love

May 3 Virch Service

Lydia Shiu

May 03, 2020

May 3rd Virch service was a joyful celebration – spring has sprung! We shared stories of where our community is finding life during quarantine, worshiped through song and communion, and heard more about the resurrected Jesus giving us invitation to give and receive of God’s provision. Sermon text from John 21. Join or rewatch.

FOR THIS WEEK’S EVENTS highlighted in our service slideshow, including contact information and links: CLICK ABOVE “Download PDF.”

Sermon: Jesus Cooks Breakfast

John 21:9-14

9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

Let’s pray, Loving God, illuminate your word to us now, that we may listen, hear your voice, and be transformed. By the power of your spirit, descend on us now we pray, ignite in us your mercy, your grace, your love, deep within ourselves and for our neighbors we pray. Show us, God, we seek you now. Amen. 

I’ve been cooking a lot lately. More than usual. Why does the next meal come around so fast? Especially in the morning, I’m like so hungry but not sure what to eat. And these days food runs out quicker, I don’t know how. Okay, so I’m constantly eating all day. On Tuesday morning last week, I woke up and there was no yogurt, no banana, and no bread of any kind. Nothing quick I could grab so I made eggs. I put some coconut oil on the pan and adjust the heat to medium like Gordan Ramsey taught me, I crack a bunch of eggs in and take it off the heat, stir, add some milk, on the heat, stir, off the heat salt and pepper, and turn off the fire and back on the remnant heat. And I added some avocados on top. It was delicious and satisfying that I didn’t even sit down to eat. Breakfast, really the most important meal of the day, and ya know, it tastes even better when someone else cooks it! 

Jesus cooks breakfast for his disciples. I love this. Fish and bread. I’m not sure if americans eat fish for breakfast but when my mom made mackerel and rice for breakfast, it was a special day. Jesus cooked up fresh fish by the beachside, over open fire bbq. Have you had fresh fish that’s just been caught and cooked up right after? Our family used to go camping a lot in Korea. It’s one of the cheapest ways to take a vacation and we were always camping either by the beach or by the mountains, public spaces provided by the government. We didn’t catch our own fish but you could buy fish off the boats that would just come in. They’re some of the fondest memories I have with my family. 

It’s been a few weeks since Easter and we’re continuing to meditate on the events following Jesus’ resurrection. The sightings of Jesus, that made the disciples realize, he’s back. Signs of life and love that Jesus showed us before he ascended into heaven. Those few moments they had after the resurrection were the foundation of a church built that would become known as Christianity. There aren’t that many. The book of Mark ends abruptly with the disciples finding out the resurrection and they scattered in fear. When you read the last chapter, chapter 16, you’ll see a little note that says, “the earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20” meaning that the last 10 verses or so were added later with Jesus showing up again, giving them a commandement, a closure you might call it. In Matthew, Jesus resurrects in the first few verses of chapter 28 and then there’s a story about the guard’s being paid to keep their mouth shut and another commandment, known as the Great Commission, “Now go and make disciples of all nation,”ending chapter 28, which some think that the later ending of Mark got it from Matthew and added it to match with Matthew’s account better. Luke has a few more good stories of how Jesus showed up to a few guys on their road to Emmaus, while they were leaving town, and they didn’t even recognize him, and another story about how they gave him fish and saw Jesus eating in his resurrected body. But John, John has almost twice as much as content of the post Easter stories than the rest. Jesus appeared to Mary, Jesus appeared to Thomas, the miraculous catch of fish that Steve shared a few weeks ago. And then, this story, of Jesus cooking them breakfast. I love that we have these varied sources of what happened. No one knows exactly what happened and different people saw different things. I have this one book, that lays out the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in chart side by side with parallel stories. It’s honestly my favorite thing to pull out and look through. I feel like I’m sitting around the table going, wait but what did you see, and you saw this, you didn’t hear this but you did! Fascinating! 

This is right in line with John’s style. “Signs” was a big theme in his book. All of Jesus’ actions are captured as signs, a testament to his power. A visible sign to the invisible reality. Bible commentators name John’s writing style as one with a “sacramental” tone. Sacraments, what we usually call baptism and communion, sacred acts to enact and unveil holy power, water to represent birth, bread to represent life. Sacramental theology is a way of looking, playing, interacting with embodied human things to try to understand heavenly things. It’s part mystery, part poetry, it’s like art–where symbolism is the only way to properly express truth. Like I can’t explain it to you with words that are too lofty to use. I can only show you, here’s what I mean, and the artist busts out in a song that you might not understand, but oh you feel. Yes, John’s style was like this, from the beginning, was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word became Flesh! It reads like the children’s book. 

The poetic nature of John’s accounts are unmistakable. An Introduction to the Gospel of John says, “Some have suggested that his prose is quasi-poetic and should be printed in poetic format.” They said, you can even find rhyme, although rhyme isn’t common in their poetry but does occur, and even rhythm can be picked up in the original language. There’s parallelism in his prose, or “staircase” arrangement of his speech, like a good rap. I mean that’s what hip hop and rap was for African Americans and many others, and like the blues and the gospels, the singing kind not the 4 books of the bible, a way to express the inexpressible things. Like Chance the Rapper’s song, Blessings, here’s a few lines,

I don’t make songs for free I make ’em for freedom

Don’t believe in kings, believe in the kingdom

Chisel me into stone, prayer whistle me into song air

Dying laughing with Krillin saying something ’bout blonde hair

Jesus black life ain’t matter, I know I talked to his daddy”

Like, I’m not gonna explain the lyrics to you, cause it’s kind of like modern art, you get what you perceive. Kinda like Jesus, said those with ears, let em hear. It’s got double meanings and puns of truth. 

Why am I going on about this? The symbolism of John? Because we need to listen deeper. We need to not just take the story at its face value but dig. That’s how we should read the Bible with some respect, like those art geeks who walk the museums with the commentary device in their ears. Like when you lean into a painting and read the little box that says, acrylic on canvas 1978 expressing individualism of a woman’s body after childbirth. And you’re like, WUUUUUT these colors and lines I couldn’t make out is about, OOOOOOOH! And then you see it. There’s layers of meanings. 

So let’s lean in and see it. This story of Jesus cooking up fish. What does it mean? Here’s one interpretation, and one access point is just a starting place for each of you to find your own deeper meaning in these Bible stories. Never read or take anyone’s commentary as the authority, it’s just one perspective of someone who spent some time and studied it but that’s it. The fish, is the people. Peter and his friends catching fish, is them doing ministry. Peter was the bedrock foundation of the Church. And the way that they were doing ministry, wasn’t bearing fruit. They were looking at the wrong places. They thought they needed to do ministry to a certain people and Jesus says, no not there, the other side. Not those, the others. And then, their ministry boomed. 

At first this story, my first pass at it, I was like, ugh, I love that Jesus cooks breakfast. What a sweetie! Like when your date says, hey this weekend, come over, I’ll cook for you and you’re like ooh! Special night! Which, I think there’s that meaning too in this story. Jesus loves us. Jesus provides for us. Jesus feeds us and nourishes us. Especially in times of frustration and fear, when you’ve worked all day and came out still with nothing to show for. When your loved one has just died and you’re confused and sad and afraid. Jesus sits you down and says, “eat, drink.” But just like good art, this story, it might have different meanings for different audiences. 

And you know, to be honest, sometimes it’s hard preaching one sermon here at Reservoir. We’re so diverse, and that’s a good thing, but sometimes one message is not what one needs to hear but the other needs. Like if I were just to say, God provides for us. That if we just believe in God’s provision, God will make it happen, well it wouldn’t be the whole truth. That would be prosperity gospel. To those who are in need, those who are poor, those who are oppressed, yes, God says, I will provide, I will feed you, I will bless you and liberate you. But to Nicodemus and Zaccheus, and we have some Nicodemus’es and Zaccheus’es in our congregation, Jesus tell Nicodemus to be born again, which essentially means to… face a kind of death first? And Zaccheus, ends up giving his money away. And the rich young ruler who went away disappointed at Jesus’s sermon because it’s not what he wanted to hear that day. 🙂 Preaching is a weird job. If I made everyone happy with my sermon then I’m not doing my job. Many of Jesus’s messages legit angered people and made them want to kill him. So if I’m preaching the message of Jesus, there should be some people….. 🙂 well, even if everyone hates your sermon, that also doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being prophetic. 

Anyways, Sometimes God provides and sometimes God…. destroys. I’m sorry I hate saying it… cause it’s hard. Sometimes God giveth and taketh away. Isaiah 40:4 says, ‘Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.” You know what that means? High mountains shaved down, rugged places stomped over with those big machines that flattens everything out! So are you a mountain or a hill that will be made low, or are you a valley that shall be raised up? Cause we got both in our congregation. We’ve got the privileged, highly educated in this zoom room, who might’ve lost tens of thousand in their stocks right now maybe. And we also have the ones who’ve lost our jobs, taking care of a child as a single parent, old, single/widowed/divorced, those without healthcare, not knowing where the next rent check will come from. For those, I want to say, Jesus will cook us breakfast. Jesus will have it ready for you burning on hot coals, as soon as you get off work, as soon as that fussy baby goes down for a nap, as soon as you get off the phone with your boss, as soon as you go through another bad date or a breakup, as soon as you’re tired and you’re ready to rest. “Come and have breakfast.” There’s some fish here already, all cooked up, and some bread. 

And that categorizing is not even sophisticated enough. Cause there are some who are rich but drowning in addiction, that need to be raised up from the valley. And those who are traditionally poor who are proud or stubborn that needs to be shaved down. I don’t know your heart, but Jesus does. 

Anyways, to some of us Jesus says, verse 10, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” put it here and add it to the pile that I’ve started. But Peter and his disciples might’ve been thinking, but we just worked all night and caught nothing for a while! We’ve been running empty too and just caught these! I worked hard for them! … Bring some of the fish you have just caught. Contribute and be generous, and put in your part, which I have blessed you with. “Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn.” Reservoir, those who can, those who have the means, those who are able, literally and metaphorically, physically and spiritually,  if you’ve just caught some fish, climb aboard and drag the net ashore. The net, ha! you know like what’s your net worth? Cause even with so many, the net will not be torn. 

Because Jesus will come and take that bread, take that fish and give it to us all to feed us and nourish us all. 

“This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.” These were the signs of resurrection that changed the world. What signs of life will you join into? 

Let me pray for us. 

Sweet Jesus who lives and reigns, who gave himself for us and showed us the way. May your life give us life. May your light give us light. Where there is death, where there is darkness, may you shine in and through us we pray. Amen.