Christ's Charge to Peter (1515) by Raphael
Let Us Worship Together!
Our Saviour is incredibly pleased to have you join us for live in-person worship inside the Nave and Sanctuary on Saturday, April 30 at 5:30 pm (casual with Voices of Praise), and Sunday, May 1 at 8:00 am (simple service) and 10:30 am (traditional with choir and/or organ music). The Saturday evening and Sunday 10:30 am services will will also be online via Facebook Livestream!
Join your prayers with the community! During the live stream of the service, you are invited to type into the Facebook chat any prayer requests for those you want included in the prayers of intercession. (As always, you may also send your prayer requests by Wednesday the week ahead to firstname.lastname@example.org.) Please do this at the beginning of the service so that we can write them up and hand them to the pastors before the prayers start.
Saturday 4:00 pm — High School Youth Group
Saturday 6:15 pm — Holy Land Christian Solidarity Cooperative (presentation & olive wood carvings for sale) and Potluck
Sunday 8:00 am — First Light Service
Sunday 8:45 am — Holy Land Christian Solidarity Cooperative (presentation & olive wood carvings for sale)
Sunday 8:45 am — Fellowship
Sunday 9:00 am — Sunday School for All Ages (including adults)
Readings and Psalms:
3rd Sunday of Easter, Year C, May 1, 2020
Our Saviour Lutheran Church, Warrenton, VA. The Reverend Terri Luper Church
Waiting for a Mission
He had waited. Every day for 40 long years, he had waited. He was looking for a sign, a signal that it was time to act, that someone needed him. He was following in the path set forth by his father, and his father before him. A path of service of the most excruciating kind—serving by waiting, serving as the last-remaining person at the outpost. He was waiting, and he was very much alone. So alone he had started to lose hope.
And then, one day, someone walked in, and Aditya Sahil stood up and said, “Welcome to Starfleet. How may I help you?”
[Yes, I’ve gone from the X-men to Star Trek in two short weeks. What can I say but confess to being a nerd and ask you to bear with me?]
Mr. Sahil is a character in the show Star Trek Discovery (Season 3, Episode 1). In this strange future, Captain Kirk, and even Captains Picard and Janeway are long in their past, and the United Federation of Planets has fallen on hard times. Into this challenging future is thrust Commander Michael Burnham, desperately looking for signs of Starfleet, for her friends, or anyone who could help. Thus, she is so excited to find Mr. Sahil and his outpost! However, he doesn’t have good news. So, then she starts to lose hope. That’s when Mr. Sahil looks at her in amazement and says that his faith has already been renewed, for “that hope is you, Commander Burnham.”
He asks only for one thing—for her, as a commissioned officer, to do something that could only be done by someone with a commission, which he did not have. “Would you help hang the Starfleet Flag?” And she did, but she went one better. Right then and there, Commander Burnham formally commissioned him, giving him what he had been waiting for, a mission and the reminder that someone needed his service. He was not alone! And in needing her, Mr. Sahil showed Michael that she was not alone either. They had hope, and hope is a powerful thing.
St. Peter was waiting for a mission as well. He was a man of action, a fisherman before Jesus called him to follow him. Peter watched Jesus change the world with a word, a touch, his presence! And Peter jumped into action—sometimes where no action was needed. But Jesus was his friend, his teacher, and they were close. Up until that day in the garden, when Judas betrayed him with a kiss and the chief priest had him arrested. Then, Peter acted like they were not close at all. “No, I tell you,” he shouted at servant after servant that night, “I do not know the man!” And then the rooster crowed, and he could not have felt farther from his friend than he was right then. He began to lose hope.
Then, Jesus was back! He was alive! It was awesome—except, it wasn’t, because the burden of his failure weighed so heavily on him. How could he have doubted him? How could he have denied knowing Jesus, over and over again? How could he have run and hid, and then laughed at Mary and the other women whey they spoke about angels? Why, oh why, did he give up hope?!!!
And so, even though Peter was overjoyed to see his friend and Lord alive again, he could not shake his shame. And so, he said, as we start our lesson today, “I’m going fishing.”
Peter was not feeling strong and bold and like a leader right then. But he still knew how to fish! And despite his lack of confidence in his leadership skills, the others saw what Jesus saw in hm, so they followed him right out onto the waters. And then, nothing. Figures, right? No fish!
But then someone on the shore suggests a different tactic, and they give it a try, and we hear that they pulled up way too many to haul in! Another friend of Jesus, John, perhaps, said, “Hey! It’s Jesus! No one else could have done that!” And before he could finish his sentence Peter is diving into the water and swimming to shore, hoping beyond hope that he could help, that he could be forgiven, that he could be part of the Jesus Way again.
So, Jesus fed them some bread, and some fish, and then the one-on-one with Peter came. Awkward! I don’t know what Peter was expecting Jesus to say, but it wasn’t “Feed my lambs.” But that is what Jesus commissioned him to do—tend the sheep, feed his lambs, take up the lead again while following behind Jesus. But Peter could not jump right into that mission. First, Jesus needed him to hear something important.
Jesus asked, “Simon, do you love me more than these?” And Peter responded, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” And Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Then Jesus asked him again, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” And Peter jumped in again, “Yes Lord; you know that I love you.” And Jesus said, “Tend my sheep.”
Then, a third time, Jesus asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” And Peter was a bit slower to jump in this time. The Bible says he felt hurt because he had been asked a third time, but we all know the truth—he was hurting long before Jesus asked that question, for he was ashamed of his behavior, their friendship was broken. But he stood up straight and said what mattered most, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” And Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”
And I swear I hear a rooster crow whenever this passage comes up! Three denials; three questions; and three reminders that he was still on a mission—in other words, three times to be told, “I forgive you, Peter!”
Do you love me? Jesus asked, and then gave him what he had been waiting for, a commission, a purpose, to be needed. Then Jesus reminded Peter that he was not always in control, and that sometimes he would have to listen before jumping into action, and yet, that he would always be loved and forgiven and vital to the mission of Jesus. Peter followed his Lord with a fresh new step, leading the others even after Jesus ascended to heaven, no longer doubting, no longer alone.
We are also given a mission to follow Jesus. We don’t get our mission because we are perfect, but because we are broken and restored, like Peter! We follow in the footsteps of Peter and John and Mary and Paul and all the apostles who saw the risen Lord, were forgiven by Jesus, and were sent to tell others the good news of God’s love. But just as they each did that telling in different ways, our mission from Jesus is as unique as we are from each other. So, my question to you today is what is your mission? What is Jesus calling you to do?
Does your mission sound a lot like what Jesus told Peter on that beach—feed my sheep? Are you called to help this church serve our neighbors by donating online for Give Local Piedmont, or shopping for the Summer Food Program or the SAFE house for abused women?
Does feed my sheep look like serving the world with the Lutheran World Relief Quilt Ministry or perhaps purchasing a craft made in the Holy Land, or more importantly praying and advocating for our brother and sister Christians in Bethlehem? Come back to the Fellowship Hall to shop and listen to their stories.
Or is Jesus commissioning you to take the lead in our Vacation Bible School ministry to help children learn that Jesus loves them and will always be with them?
Perhaps, you will help learn and lead a new adult small group as you study God’s Word together. (Listen for news about that.)
Of course, sometimes our mission is more personal. We all know how stressful the past few years have been. What we don’t know is how that stress is affecting the people around us. Perhaps your call right now is to listen. Could you take the time to listen—even to someone who disagrees with you, or who has hurt you, or who you are quite certain is an idiot—without defending your position at all? Could you follow Jesus and listen to understand? To listen and not ignore? To forgive and receive forgiveness?
If we all sought reconciliation with a friend, coworker, or church member, imagine the joy and peace we would spread!!!!! Now imagine if we stopped waiting for the right time and just set each other free. What a world that would be!
What are you waiting for? Jesus has set you free and commissioned you to feed and tend his sheep. Whatever Jesus is calling you to do, we are all given a great commission, and we are loved and supported while we follow it, for we are always following the great shepherd of the sheep, Jesus Christ, our risen Lord. Amen.
Liturgical material © 2017 Augsburg Fortress, used by permission of Augsburg Fortress/Sundays and Seasons #SAS009239. Copyright Acknowledgments for print & broadcast: CCLI - Copyright License #2800659 and Streaming License #20585472 (including SongSelect Advanced); and One License #710443-A.