“After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples
by the Sea of [Galilee] …” (John 21:1; NRSV. Emphasis added.)
And just when you thought you were about to leave … or hang up the phone … you hear those infamous words from a close friend, or perhaps (just perhaps?) your beloved Mom: “Oh, you really don’t need to go quite yet, do you? C’mon, have another cup of coffee.” Or “Thanks for calling. But … ah … just a minute. There was something else I needed to tell you. Now, what was it?” Ever experienced this? Yup? It’s what has come to be referred to as the infamous “Minnesota/Midwestern Goodbye.”
In our Gospel story for this coming weekend, St. John’s Gospel also concludes with a “Midwestern Good-bye.” That is, it ends not with one but two endings. “Ah … just a minute … there was something else I needed to tell you.” In the first, Jesus appears to his disciples after his resurrection – as they cower behind locked doors (John 20:19-31). He gives them his word of peace, breathes new life and hope into them, and sends them forth in mission in his name. Sounds like an ending, right? But it it’s not. Or at least it’s not the only ending according to St. John’s gospel. Because in the 21st chapter that we’ll hear this weekend (John 21:1-19) there’s another, quote, “It’s the Lord!” … ending. And if it all seems a bit confusing, it’s hard to blame John because we all know how hard it is to come to an end. You think you’ve said everything, and then you think of something else, something too important to leave out. And so we put a “P.S.” at the bottom of the page/conversation … trying not to actually say, “Goodbye.”
Indeed, it’s hard to blame John for lingering over his ending for a while. Perhaps because he just wanted to make sure he had pretty much said it all (cf. John 20:30-31). He wanted to make sure he’d given us everything we’d need to make it through the long nights when we wait for a seeming eternity for our next daybreak to come. St. John didn’t know how long it would be for us, but he did know how long it had been for him and some of the other disciples. And so he decided to tell us a story about them that might help us too.
Come join in the family of faith this Sunday at worship, and hear why the disciples decided to go back to their fishing nets. What happens when they’re out all night fishing, get skunked, and at daybreak a voice calls to them from the shoreline – as their nets, say nothing of their lives, begin to overflow with joy? And then they gather ’round a campfire with a multiplication of bread and fish, a meal Jesus has prepared just for them [and you!].
With a calling word and a splashing of water
Even when the campfires of our lives have seemingly all gone out
Someone has written something “good news” news
In the ashes of our lives that says:
”You will not see me for a little while.
But in the meantime … when you gather around my meal of broken bread and fish
And then go out into the world and feed my sheep
Know that I am always with you.” Signed “Jesus”