Jesus appears on the shore.

Jesus also revealed himself to his disciples by the Sea of Galilee. This is what happened: Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael from Cana of Galilee, James and John (Zebedee’s sons) and two other disciples were together. Peter announced “I’m going fishing.” The rest of them decided to go with him. They caught nothing that night.

At daybreak, Jesus stood on the shore, but they did not recognize him. He called out to them, saying “Boys, don’t you have any fish?” “No,” they replied. He said “If you cast your net on the right side of the boat, you’ll find some.” They cast their net as he said, and the net was so full of fish they were unable to haul it in. John, the disciple Jesus loved, said to Peter “It is the Lord!”

When Simon Peter heard this, he tied his tunic around him (he was bare-chested) and jumped into the sea to swim ashore. The other disciples decided to steer the boat ashore instead, since it was only about a hundred yards away. They dragged the net full of fish with them.

When they came ashore they saw a charcoal fire with fish cooking over it, along with some bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring over some of those fish you just caught.” Simon Peter got up and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish – 153 of them – but even though there were so many fish, the net did not tear.

Jesus invited them to have breakfast with him. None of them were brave enough to say “Who are you?” to him. They all knew it was Jesus. He then served them the bread and fish.

This was the third time he had revealed himself to his disciples after he had been raised from the dead.

JN 21:1-14

The parable of the sower.

Jesus was again teaching beside the sea. He decided to teach while sitting in a boat in the water because a large crowd had gathered around him. The crowd stood on the shore to listen to him. They had come to hear him from every town.

He taught them many things using parables, including this one: “Think about the person who went out to sow his field. While he was sowing, some seeds fell along the path and birds came and ate it. Other seeds fell where there were more rocks then soil. The seed sprang up quickly, but then withered just as quickly in the sun because it didn’t have deep roots to gather moisture. Other seeds fell among the thornbushes and the thorns made it impossible for them to produce a crop. Yet other seeds fell on good ground and were able to produce 30, 60, even 100 times what was sown. Anyone who has ears should listen to this!”

MT 13:1-9, MK 4:1-9, LK 8:4-8

The servant of the Lord

Jesus left the area when he became aware that they were plotting against him.

MT 12:15a

He left, traveling with his disciples to the sea. Immense crowds followed him from Galilee, Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and around Tyre and Sidon. The huge crowds sought him out because they had heard the news about everything he was doing.

MK 3:7-8, LK 6:17, MT 12:15b.

They came to listen to his teachings and be healed. Everyone who was afflicted by an unclean spirit was healed.

LK 6:18

The crowds were thronging to get near him to touch him because he had already healed many other people before, and healing power was coming out of him that day.

MK 3:10, LK 6:19

There were so many people trying to get to him that Jesus told his disciples to prepare a small boat for him so that he would not be crushed by the crowds.

MK 3:9

The unclean spirits made the people they had possessed fall down and cry out “You are the Son of God!” when they saw him.

MK 3:11

He strongly warned them to not reveal who he was.

MT 12:16, MK 3:12

In doing this he fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, who said –
“Behold, this is my chosen servant, the one I love and my soul delights in. I will anoint him with my Spirit, and he will tell the world about justice. He will not fight or yell, and he will not speak in street corners. He will be kind to the weak and give hope to the hopeless, until he has successfully brought justice to the world. His name will bring hope to everyone.”

MT 12:17-21

Boat – on an anchorless faith.

I’m starting to think that the Episcopal church is better off without me. The whole deacon discernment process was put on hold a year ago. I understand now that there is no way I could speak freely and have them put their stamp of approval on me.

Because how dare I say that God is talking to me?

As Christians, our goal is to be connected with God. How can we possibly do the will of God if we can’t hear God?

Oh, right, I forget. We are supposed to trust that the priest/minister/pastor is hearing from God, and telling us what to do.

Yet, this isn’t what Jesus wanted.

So I’m on my own now. I’m non denominational. I’ve been without a church home for half a year, and it is a bit terrifying. There isn’t a road map for this. I keep wanting to go back to the old way, but then I feel a pain in my gut every time I think about it. I know that I can’t. I know that isn’t my path.

I’ll go to a Christmas Eve service. I’ll take communion in a gym. I’ll celebrate Christ in the pool at the Y. I’ll go to my spiritual director. I’ll go to a friend’s house where we share what the Spirit leads us to share. I’ll host events at my house. I’ll pray over my meal in silence at a buffet. I’ll make healing jewelry for a grieving friend. I’ll write.

God is connecting with me in new ways.

It is like I’m on a boat, sailing far away at sea. I’m no longer following the coastline or the man-made lights along the shore. The lights I’m following are the same lights that sailors have followed for thousands of years.

I’m going backwards to go forwards.

The radio doesn’t work here, this far out. There’s no map on the sea either. I have no way of knowing if I’m headed the right way. I have no way of knowing if I’m lost.

I’m pushed along by the breath of God, and that suits me just fine.

This is the same breath that created the world, that gave life to Adam.

I feel safe in this boat, this ark, the ark of Noah, the ark of Moses as a baby. Both went out on trust, went out in wooden boat on the ocean, adrift. Both were there because all was lost and the old ways didn’t work anymore. Both were there because to stay where they were meant certain death.

The Covenant has an ark too. So do Torah scrolls.

The main body, the sanctuary of a traditional church building is known as a nave. It is from naval, from ship. It is an ark for people. It looks like a ship, upside down. The sharp pointed roof is the hull of the ship, pointed towards the sky.

I don’t want that ship anymore. I want to take it and turn it all upside down and set it afloat again.

I don’t think that God wants us to be grounded or set in our ways, or stuck in one place. I think God wants us to be forever trusting in God’s ways, and the only way to do that is to set sail, rudderless, anchorless, free. God wants us to take us further than we’ve ever gone and right where we need to be.

God is, was, and shall be. The Hebrew YHWH is a contraction of these words. It is a good name for God, the infinite, the forever, the now and always is. God is endless and eternal.

We can’t understand this, we humans. We invented time. We invented the idea that tomorrow follows today and each day has a separate name and that time takes place. Perhaps that is why we are confused. We don’t understand God because we can’t limit God. We can’t define God because God is indefinable.

Wake up. Hear the gulls. The day is dawning here.
There’s no shore, but we are not alone.
The beings of the sea and sky keep us company.
Wake up, and smell the salt in the air.
We are safe.
We are home.