A Sermon Preached by the Rev. Susan Allison-Hatch
We’ve all had them. Both in our individual lives and in our shared life. Moments of fear, confusion, doubt, deep sadness, frustration. Times when we’ve been at sixes and sevens. Times when we’ve not known what to do or even if we could do. We’ve all been in that place the disciples were living in following Jesus’ death.
Mary Magdalene in her deep sadness asking “What have you done with my Lord?”
The disciples—well ten of them—huddled behind doors locked by fear.
Thomas saying to himself and the others too, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”
Peter, at sixes and sevens, feeling cooped up, caged in, saying to the others, “I’m going fishing”
We’ve all had them—moments when we wonder “What will become of us?’ “Where is my place in all of this?” “Where do I fit?” Sometimes it feels like being stuck in a deep fog; at other times it feels like your flesh will pop out from your skin. Moments when all you can do is shake your hands in the air. Moments when you desperately want to turn back the clock.
Like those disciples of long ago, you and I—we, too—are living in just such a moment. We, too—we the part of the body of Christ known as Live at Five—are facing a loss; we, too, are staggering in the news that our life together as a Eucharistic community will soon end.
Like those disciples of long ago, we, too, wonder “What will become of us?” “Where will we go?” “Where do we fit in the community of St. Michael and All Angels?” We are all asking these questions. I bet everyone of us here has asked at least one of these questions. I surely have.
Perhaps some of us will huddle behind locked doors—like the disciples who didn’t go to Galilee. Saying to ourselves and to those who ask, “I’m just going wait and see where the Spirit calls.” And that is a faithful response. Listening to the voice of the Spirit ought not be sneezed at.
Maybe others will join Peter, saying to themselves and to those who might ask “I’m going fishing” as they return to the place and time they worshipped before they joined this little community gathered around the table. “You can find me at 9:00 or 11:15 or even 7:30 or maybe Thursday morning." That, too, is a faithful response, for following Jesus is not a walk we do alone.
But remember what happens on that early morning by the Sea of Galilee. After a night of fishing, a night of empty nets—just after daybreak--the disciples look up and see a man standing on the shore. About a football field away from them. They hear him ask, “Have you no fish?” “No” they reply. And then he suggests they try the other side of the boat.
Imagine that. Imagine fishermen with years of experience, with the kind of body knowledge that comes from long experience, casting their nets in a different way. It couldn’t have easy for them. Yet they did it.
They caught a net full of really big fish. So many big fish that they couldn’t even haul them into the boat. More than they could ask or imagine!
Like the bright light of a new day, it dawns on one of them: That’s Jesus standing on the shore. The Risen Lord. “It is the Lord,” he says to Peter. “Of course,” the others say to themselves as Peter girds up his loins (and the rest of him too) and swims to shore. “It is the Lord.” Off they go. To the shore. Trolling a net filled with really big fish. A net so full they worry if it will hold.
And when they get to shore what do they find? A fire, some fish grilling, and bread baking on the hot coals. “Come and eat,” their Lord says to them.” Resurrection at work. Right before their very eyes.
Here’s the truth. The truth about Resurrection. A truth you and I know from our own lives. The truth about resurrection at work in human lives. We know from our own moments of despair and sorrow the sorrow Mary Magdalene felt as she approached the tomb that Easter morning; we know from our own moments of fear like the fear the disciples felt as they huddled behind locked doors; from our moments of doubt and our moments of confusion too, we know that resurrection happens. Right before our very eyes. In our very lives. Resurrection turning us from sadness into joy.
Almost exactly eleven years ago, I got a rumbling sense in my gut that I had to get home. I had to be with my mom. Just ten days before, Tim and I had been there together. But I needed to get back home to California. She had lung cancer. We’d just gotten her on hospice, but she needed meals brought in. Amazingly, her neighbors, friends and church folks each took a day. Thirty days of hot meals and someone checking on her. When I told her what folks were doing, she said to me, “Really—they’re doing that for me?”
Jesus said, “My peace I give you. My peace I leave with you.” You could feel the peace descending on my Mom. It enveloped her—and me as well. Resurrection happening right before our very eyes.
The next day she died. But that’s not the end of the story. I flew home and returned to work the following Monday—two days before my birthday. I have never been so sad in all my life. After work that Monday, I found a package on our porch. My Mom’s handwriting in the address on the front of the package. Inside a card reading, “Happy Birthday! Love, Mom” . Resurrection happening before my very eyes.
We know it. Resurrection. New life. A brush with the living God. It happens in your life, in my life and in our life together. Resurrection happens. Even now. In this moment.
Live at Five is being transformed. We’re on the cusp of something new. God is at work in our midst turning our tears into laughter, our mourning into joy. Resurrection happening in our very midst. Morning breaking on a new day.