This is my last edition of Trail Notes at St. Dunstan’s! My practice of writing a brief essay for each Sunday of worship began over 30 years ago. For many years it was called simply, “About this Service.” Then when we became “The Church on the Trail,” I changed the name to something that fit our parish theme – the idea of journeying together.
I’ve enjoyed the weekly task of writing about the scriptures, particular feast days and seasons, notable events in the parish life, and local and national affairs that demand a Christian response. I’ve appreciated comments from many of you – both agreement and criticism. Thank you for being a part of the conversation.
This third Sunday of the Easter Season, we naturally hear the story of a resurrection appearance of Jesus. This one is on a beach by the lake. It is filled with symbolism: the work of fishing, the great haul of fish, the recognition of Jesus, and Jesus feeding the disciples. These are Jesus’ themes throughout his ministry: the task of evangelism (fishing), a world-view of abundance, and the challenge of seeing and recognizing God’s hand in the world. The breakfast on the beach is clearly Eucharistic: Jesus takes what is offered, blesses and transforms it, and it becomes food for disciples – for us.
There is a final, mysterious interaction between Peter and Jesus. Jesus asks (three times in a row): Peter, do you love me? Peter responds: Yes Lord! Then Jesus says Feed my sheep. We know that Peter had a close but conflicted relationship with Jesus. Peter professed great faith, but then denied Jesus three times. So this is Peter’s moment of truth, and a time of healing of his relationship with Jesus. These are Jesus’ last words to Peter.
If I myself have a last word for you, the people of St. Dunstan’s, it would be:
Attend to the work of fishing – find new ways to take the love of God into your neighborhood, and ways to gather people together here at St. Dunstan’s. Invest in this congregation so that it may thrive. Practice abundance not scarcity. Recognize the winds of God’s Holy Spirit blowing among you. Embrace change. Welcome your new rector, and offer your active support for her/him and the new initiatives and vision that he/she will bring. Share fellowship and eat together, as Jesus taught us. Be patient and forgive each other. Love God, and love your neighbors. Feed Jesus’ sheep.
Thank you for the privilege of serving as your rector these nineteen years. I wish you all the very best. JBM