Sermon for May 1, 2022 Third of Easter “The Place Jesus Interrupts Us”
The number of sermons that have been and will be preached on the texts for Acts and John are more numerous than the stars in the heavens or the sand on all the beaches and deserts. The conversion of Saul to Paul in Acts and the shared breakfast on the sea shore in John are profound insights into the heart of God and Jesus.
Saul was on a mission to gather up and bring to justice, Roman justice followers of Jesus. Along the way he encounters Jesus, becomes blind and is led to Damascus. There he is entirely dependent on others. The part of the story that moves me these days is Ananias. He is a disciple and hears God’s voice directing him to go minister to Saul. Of all the people he was called on to minister to, Saul was not one of them. All the followers hated Saul and worked hard to avoid him, now Ananias was being asked to go and minister to him! It is a tribute to his dedication and commitment to Jesus that he listened, heeded and went to Saul. Laying his hands on him, he was healed and became a tireless disciple and follower of Jesus and his teachings.
The Gospel teaching is of some of the disciples fishing, they see Jesus on shore and head toward him. Peter, is frustrated with the slow progress so leaps from the boat and swims. When they all arrive, Jesus asks how the fishing was? Not so good came the reply. Cast your net on the other side. After doing so the nets are full. Then breakfast is prepared and teaching continues.
In these texts are years of sermons. For today I remind myself that Jesus meets us on the roads we travel, at our places of work or leisure, and there disrupts our lives, or maybe it is a nudge away from complacency and routine.
Paul needs some blindness to be able to see, Ananias needs to get over his well held prejudices to minister to Saul/Paul. The disciples do not seem so amazed at a net full of fish and are reminded that they are to offer food to others not force feed people. And for us it is a reminder that we offer ourselves, our work, our presence, our gifts to others, and the hardest part of all…make space for God to enter, allow the Spirit to fill the spaces that we are tempted to force feed.
In our 21st century need to get it all, all at once, to multi task our way to something less than even mediocre and to believe if I work harder, longer that success will happen (whatever that is). We forget that God is here. So instead of a gentle nudge there is a full on road block that stops us and after the flash of anger, there is the realization that we were in imminent danger to ourselves and others.
Where are the places and times when God has stopped you, changed your path or your mind? We are in many ways like the first followers of Jesus who needed constant reminders to change our mindset or our way of being. Jesus did not interrupt the lives of the first followers so they could have a three year break and travel around doing cool stuff and they going back to the way it was. Jesus interrupted their lives forever, they were not going back to the way it was before. The revolution of changing hearts for good, was beginning and with resurrection was set on a path that would last for generations, to our day and beyond.
The interruptions were not intended for us to be in an even bigger rush once we were around them. They are intended to get our attention and then set us on a new path. Where to now? Jesus has a plan, you are part of that plan, and much to the chagrin of the GPS genie, it is for us a leap of faith. Did you notice that the disciples were not surprised at the nets full of fish?