What Do We Do Now?
John 21: 1-17 Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3 “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So, they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered.6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. 7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. 9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”
Think about times that our country has faced a crisis in the past. I know after the bombing of Pearl Harbor which marked the beginning WWII, many Americans were faced with uncertainty and fear. Life as they knew it was never the same. After the 9-11 terrorist attack on the twin towers, many Americans were faced with uncertainty and fear. Life as we once knew changed and air travel has never the same.
In the scripture reading, Jesus returns after his resurrection only to find some of his disciples hiding, others have returned to their old life style of fishing from their boats and come to shore once again with empty nets. Why? They lost faith and hope after Jesus was arrested and crucified. To these faithful disciples, life was uncertain and they didn’t know what to do next.
Most of us have faced our own life changing situations. A death of a close friend or family member, the loss of a job, a home lost after a storm, maybe a divorce, a diagnosis of a terminal disease and pending treatments. Now, we are faced with the COVID-19 crisis. Our future is now marked with uncertainty; life as we knew it has changed and it will never be the same. So, what do we do now?
Before I answer that question, we read in Luke 8:24-25 where scripture describes a scene with the disciples and Jesus in a boat being tossed about in a storm. 24 And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 He said to them, “Where is your faith?”
So, what do we do now? First, don’t panic!! Panic is what happens after a disaster hits even when we know we are to remain calm. All of us are wondering how long we are going to stay in our homes, away from friends and family. We watch as the COVID-19 numbers rise, unemployment is looming, and many shake our heads as we witness people panic and hoard food, medicine, hand sanitizers, and toilet paper. Times like this truly do bring out the best and worse in people. So, what do we do now?
Let us refer back to the opening scripture from John 21. May I ask each and every one of you, do you love Jesus? I know all of you would say, “yes!” If Jesus asked you the same question, how would you respond? If you would tell him, “yes,” Jesus would in turn ask you to care for others. Love you neighbor. Pray for your neighbor and also, love your enemies and those you disagree with. Yes, pray and love those who have hoarded in this time of crisis. “To take care of my sheep.”
This virus doesn't care who you are or where you live. It doesn't care about your name or your job. In times of tragedy, the church body makes all the difference. All churches, including Paint Creek and Howarth, are God's first-responder team. We care for each other and we care for those in our communities. And Christ wants all of us to have that kind of support from the church (John 15:12-13).
The church is at its best when it functions as God's family, leading in love, hope, and prayer. In this time when we cannot meet to worship together, individually you are still are the ones running to help one another. Each of you must continue to be the face of Christ. We are called at this moment to calm the sea, to show we still have faith no matter the crisis even when the end, at this point, is so unknown.
So, it is our Christian faith and acts of service that extend out from both Paint Creek and Howarth into our communities and the world. Whether it is COVID-19, or storms, earthquakes, droughts and hardships. We as Christians have always been leaders in responding to everyone, everywhere they are in need. Now we are being asked to sit tight and trust in God to support us as we wait, but also as we become the hands and feet of Christ no matter what happens next.
That kind of "closeness" demands us to not lose heart—a willing and generous heart. At this time of quarantine, do not to forget your financial giving. The churches are still here waiting for us to gather and praise God once again. Let us take encouragement knowing that God supports us through this crisis. We hope and pray that others will call upon God during this critical time of need, finding peace and solace during moments of stress and turmoil.
So, what do we do now? Be still and know that God is among us through everything. Stand strong, call one another, feed his sheep and always love Jesus.
Remember, God loves you and so do I.
Peace, Pastor Marv