Written by Courtney McHill, United Methodist Pastor
We are moving into another week of Easter (did you know that there are 50 days of Easter?) and Jesus keeps showing up! Even though we watched him die, Jesus has come back and is making appearances all over the place. Last week Jesus appeared in a locked room and met us right where our doubt resided and this week Jesus shows up to meet us in nature.
In Acts, Saul needs some serious come to Jesus time. He is persecuting the people who follow Jesus and I don’t think is a very happy man. It is clear, however, that it will take some major event to make him change his ways. A blinding light, a form of the environment around him, causes him to fall and out of that light comes the voice of Jesus. From that point on, we have Paul before us and ready to be Jesus in the world.
In John, Jesus decides the beach is a good place to motivate the disciples. Peter and his friends have gone back to what they know in their grief. They return to fishing, their profession pre Jesus. In their mourning they head north where they gather their boats and nets. I can only imagine what they are thinking. I am sure that they are grieving still and don’t know what else to do. Even in something they know it doesn’t go right. They can’t catch anything. Can you imagine the frustration? The grief? And the solace out on the water? Jesus appears on the beach, a place that they all know, for breakfast. It is in that moment that they are inspired again, in the environment around them.
This is natural for so many of us to see Jesus in nature. How can we not? The world around us, especially now, reminds us over and over again of resurrection. Trees are blooming. Seedlings are coming up out of the ground out of dead seeds. New life is in creation around us. For many in our lives, the natural world is where we commune with Christ. Over and over again Jesus meets us here. When I think that it might be preposterous for Saul to change to Paul because of a blinding light, I think of the many times that nature has totally and completely changed the way I see the world. In those moments Christ has transformed me. When I think about how ridiculous it is that the disciples would see Jesus walking on the beach, I also think of the many times that I was walking where I felt safe in the world and am comforted and inspired. It is not so far off to meet Jesus in nature, is it?
Quotes for the Week
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” ― Rachel Carson
“We know that God is everywhere; but certainly we feel His presence most when His works are on the grandest scale spread before us; and it is in the unclouded night-sky, where His worlds wheel their silent course, that we read clearest His infinitude, His omnipotence, His omnipresence.” ― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
“Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day’s work.” – Frank Lloyd Wright
“My father considered a walk among the mountains as the equivalent of churchgoing.” Aldous Huxley
Acts 9:1-6 (NRSV) Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’He asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ The reply came, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.’
John 21:1-9 (Message) Jesus appeared again to the disciples, this time at the TiberiasSea (the Sea of Galilee). This is how he did it: Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed “Twin”), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the brothers Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. Simon Peter announced, “I’m going fishing.” The rest of them replied, “We’re going with you.” They went out and got in the boat. They caught nothing that night. When the sun came up, Jesus was standing on the beach, but they didn’t recognize him. Jesus spoke to them: “Good morning! Did you catch anything for breakfast?” They answered, “No.” He said, “Throw the net off the right side of the boat and see what happens.” They did what he said. All of a sudden there were so many fish in it, they weren’t strong enough to pull it in. Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Master!” When Simon Peter realized that it was the Master, he threw on some clothes, for he was stripped for work, and dove into the sea. The other disciples came in by boat for they weren’t far from land, a hundred yards or so, pulling along the net full of fish. When they got out of the boat, they saw a fire laid, with fish and bread cooking on it.
Questions for the Week Do you see Christ in nature? Is there a sacred site for you in nature? Have you seen God this week around you?