Saturday, May 24, 2014

Sixth Sunday of Easter: Breakfast with Jesus, Part Duex

Readings for this Sunday: Isaiah 6:1-8, JOhn 21:9, 13-35

TO: Jesus, Son of Joseph, Woodcrafters Carpenter Shop, Nazareth
FROM: Jordan Management Consultants, Jerusalem

Dear Sir:
Thank you for submitting the résumés of the twelve men you have picked for managerial positions in your new organization. All of them have now taken our battery of tests; and we have not only run the results through our computer, but also arranged personal interviews for each of them with our psychologist and vocational aptitude consultant. The profiles of all tests are included, and you will want to study each of them carefully.

As part of our service, we make some general comments for your guidance, much as an auditor will include some general statements. This is given as a result of staff consultation, and comes without any additional fee.

It is the staff opinion that most of your nominees are lacking in background, education and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. We would recommend that you continue your search for persons of experience in managerial ability and proven capability.

Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper.

Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership.

The two brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, place personal interest above company loyalty.

Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale.

We feel that it is our duty to tell you that Matthew has been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau.

James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus definitely have radical leanings, and they both registered a high score on the manic-depressive scale.

One of the candidates, however, shows great potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen business mind and has contacts in high places. He is highly motivated, ambitious and responsible. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your controller and right-hand man. All the other profiles are self-explanatory.

We wish you every success in your new venture.

Sincerely yours,
Jordan Management Consultants

Jesus called them anyway. 

Of course there was no consulting firm vetting the disciples.  Just Jesus, consulting with the Father in prayer, selecting the people who became his closest followers.

There’s been three years of intense on the job training. A final weekend of testing.  Weeks of debriefing.  Now it’s time. 

Time for them to go out on their own.

There’s just one last thing to do.  The disciples are sitting around the charcoal fire, picking over the remains of breakfast.

Jesus taps Peter on the shoulder. “Come, walk with me.”

They walk down to the lake shore and stare out over the water.  Peter can still smell the smoke from the fire, and he shudders.  Suddenly it smells like that night – the night he betrayed Jesus.  He can’t speak – the words just won’t come.  Rash, impulsive, blunt Peter is still and silent.

Jesus turns to him.  “Peter, do you love me more than these?”  Did he motion to the boat and the nets, the life of fishing Peter knew so well - do you love me more than your old way of life? Did he motion to the other disciples – do you love me as much as they do, or more?  Maybe Jesus did both. 

Peter jumped at the chance to prove himself. “Yes, Lord.  You know I love you. More than fishing, more than boats, more than anything else!”

“Good, feed my lambs.”

They stand silent again for awhile.  Jesus asks again, “Do you love me?”

Puzzled, Peter replies, “Yes, Lord. I love you.”

“Good.  Tend my sheep”

Silence again.  Finally, Jesus turns to Peter one more time. “Do you love me?”

Pain wells up in Peter’s heart.  The same question a third time.  Surely Jesus is doing this because he betrayed him three times.  Peter cried out, “Yes Lord.  You know my heart, you know everything.  You know I love you!”

“Good, feed my sheep.

Suddenly it begins to dawn on Peter.  Sheep and lambs – old and young.  Feed and tend – nourish, care for, love. Jesus still wanted him to be a part of his mission!  

He wasn’t going to be left out!  Jesus knew everything, and still loved him.  Jesus forgave him.   

A smile grew on Peter’s face.

Then Jesus said, “That’s right.  You are mine.  You are going to do great things for me.  In fact, you are going to be so good at proclaiming my love and forgiveness to the world that it’s going to get you arrested and killed.

The smile grew bigger.

Peter noticed the beloved disciple standing a short way off.  He asked, “What about him?”

Jesus said, “What about him?  Don’t worry about him.  He has a job too – but that’s not your concern.  You just concentrate on what I tell you to do.  And don’t worry.  The Spirit is coming to give you everything you need to get the job done.”

God doesn’t call the qualified.

God qualifies the called.

It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.  It doesn't matter that the world has beaten you down.  It doesn't matter how you think you have failed yourself, your family or friends, or even God.

God has called you.

God loves you unconditionally, warts and all. God forgives you, no matter what you’ve done.

And God sends you to bring the good news of God's love and forgiveness to the world.  To be God’s hands and feet in the world.

Jesus forgave Peter and gave him a job.  And he does the same for each of us.

And God gives us exactly what we need to do the job we are called to do. 

Wherever we are.  Even in those places we never expected to be.  And in ways we never imagined.

Today we bless those who are travelling to Nicaragua.  We will be meeting new brothers & sisters, learning about their work, and ministering to the people of Nicaragua with them. 

We will visit the Women’s Training Center in Managua – where women learn vocational skills.  This is our partnership with the ILFE – we support this training center.  Those five women who will graduate the program while we are there – God equipped us to support them in their goals.

Just like we support the Primary School of Pocho Cuape  where 1st to 6th grade children learn to read and write.  God has used the congregations of South Dakota to provide what is needed for the people God has called in Nicaragua.

When I was taking my Lutheran Identity class in seminary, I had no idea that I would be teaching a workshop to pastors and lay leaders in Somitillo Nicaragua.  Maybe I would have paid more attention!

We don’t know what to expect as we meet Lutheran youth, stay in the villages with our host families, worship with them, visit the farming projects.  What I do know is that God has called each one, and equipped them with the gifts needed to minister.

To do that God first called you.  Gave you the gifts needed to raise up children of faith, to care for the brothers and sisters that gather here.  

God doesn’t call the qualified.

God qualifies the called.

God calls you.

[i]  From Tim Hansel’s book “Eating Problems for Breakfast,” 

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