3rd Sunday of Easter, April 15, 2018
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
When we were small children, we spent a great deal of time with my maternal grandparents on their farm, but also going places with them. One of the things my grandfather loved was fishing, and so he took the three of us fishing with him and my grandmother. We fished all over Northwestern Connecticut. He took us to Mudge Pond in Sharon, Ct, and sometimes to Winchester Lake in Winchester. Other times we fished for trout in Colebrook River Lake in Sandisfield Massachusetts, and then it was the Housatonic River near the hydroelectric power plant in Falls Village. We caught Pumpkinseed and Blue Gill, Perch, Carp and Pickerel and both Rock Bass and Large Mouth Bass. One of my favorite photos is of me, when I was about 2 years old, standing on a stool, holding up a largemouth bass. My grandfather caught it and, in the background, you can see that he is the one who is really holding it.
How many of you fish? Do you still actively fish? What do you like about fishing?
Many times, I have heard it said, â€œFish is the sustenance of Life.â€ I have also heard it said, â€œGive a person a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach them to fish then you feed them for life.â€
In our lesson for this morning, the fish that the disciples give to the risen Jesus is important. It isnâ€™t important because it is food, but because Jesus uses it to prove to them that indeed he is risen, but also that it is really him because he can eat. It isnâ€™t a ghost, or an apparition but really and truly Jesus, risen from the dead.
Jesus uses the eating of the fish to get them over their fear and to realize that he is truly present with them here.
The fish is one of the more important symbols of our Christian faith. Fish was a common staple for the people of Palestine, and it was more prevalent for food that other meats were. In the early days of the church, when it was under persecution by the Romans, and many Christians were made slaves to Rome, to know if you were in the presence of another Christian, you would draw a fish in the dirt. If the other person drew a fish as well, then it was safe to talk to them.
The symbol of the fish is known as ICTHUS which stands for Iesus Christos, Theos Uios, Soter.
Jesus Christ, Godâ€™s Son, Savior. This was the way that Christians could find one another and secretly communicate with one another.
There have been few times in history when it was easy to be a Christian. But not as hard as those first followers of Jesus who struggled with both the Jews and the Romans and the Greeks. But they did survive by the grace of God.
They also survived because although they were frightened after the crucifixion and the resurrection, Jesus opened up to them the scriptures, and gave him the testimony of Moses and the prophets showing Jesus to be the Messiah, the Son of God, the Savior of the world. He encouraged them to go on spreading the Gospel. But he also taught them that one of the most important things to share with us is both the need for repentance and forgiveness. That we should both repent of our sins and be forgiven but also to proclaim forgiveness to others. The proclaiming of forgiveness is freeing for both the receiver and the giver.
We are fed, not only by the word of God but in the meal in which Christ is truly present in and with the bread and the wine. Bread or fish, Christ meets us when we gather together at the table of Godâ€™s grace.