Friday, April 15, 2016

Bishop’s Note: April 14, 2016 – Around A Charcoal Fire

Bishop Eric Menees

This past Sunday was the Third Sunday of Easter, and the Gospel reading was from the 21st Chapter of the Gospel of John. Jesus appears to the disciples on the shore of the Sea of Tiberius. There he has prepared a charcoal fire with some fish and bread on it and invites the disciples to “Come and have breakfast.” What a beautiful scene – Jesus provides for the disciples a boat load of fish (153 of them) and a simple breakfast reminiscent of the Last Supper, though this was the First Breakfast!

What caught my attention this week in reflecting on the 21st Chapter of John is the “...charcoal fire.” The phrase “charcoal fire” is used only twice in the entirety of the scriptures. The first time it is used is in the 18th Chapter of John. The scene is the late night of Maundy Thursday or the early morning of Good Friday. Jesus and the Beloved Disciple are in the court of the high priest, while Peter has had to wait outside where he stood with a servant girl warming himself by a charcoal fire (vs. 18:18). The servant girl asks Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you? He said, “I am not.”

It was standing at a charcoal fire that Peter denies our Lord, and it is at a charcoal fire that Jesus invites Peter and the other disciples to have some breakfast.

Of course, immediately following breakfast, Jesus takes Peter for a walk along the shore and asks three times in slightly different ways: “Do you love me?” Peter responds, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” And then Jesus directs Peter to “Feed my lambs.”

With these three questions, responses, and directions, Peter is forgiven for his three denials of our Lord. I find it interesting that forgiveness begins around the charcoal fire. Our Lord invited Peter back to the charcoal fire to revisit, as it were, his denials.

I think it very important for all of us, when seeking forgiveness, to return to the metaphorical charcoal fire in our lives; that we consciously return to the place of our sin, acknowledge it, and allow Jesus to transform it. While it’s not clear that Peter consciously recognized what was taking place at the time, it is clear to all that in this action Jesus is forgiving Peter and empowering him for service. I pray that all of us may consciously recognize our sin and respond to the invitation of Jesus to love him and receive his love. That Grace in Jesus’ invitation - the Grace in His Love - is what allow us to admit our sin, and what allows for Jesus to transform our lives.

I pray you all a very blessed and Grace filled week.

Catechism Questions: 272-274

272. What is the Second Commandment?
The Second Commandment is: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them.”

273. What does the Second Commandment mean?

God’s people are neither to worship man-made images of God or of other gods, nor make such images for the purpose of worshiping them. (Deuteronomy 4:15-24)

274. How did Israel break the first two commandments?
Israel worshiped the gods of the nations around them, neglected God’s Law, and corrupted the worship of the Temple, thus earning God’s punishment. (Exodus 32; Judges 2:11-15, Psalm 78:56-72; Jeremiah 32:30-35)

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