Sunday, April 28, 2013

Discover Life, Again: Restoration

Part 3 of John 21:1-19

Westminster Presbyterian Church
Sunday, May
John 21 part 3, John 21: 13-19

We continue with the story of Jesus’ third resurrection appearance according to John.  
The disciples are fishing in Galilee,
At home,
Doing the familiar things they used to do.
They go fishing, and catch nothing.
Jesus give them a little encouragement, Cast your nets on the right side of the boat, and there they find loads of fish.
And now, Jesus seeks to restore at least Peter if not all of them on their way of discipleship.

[The retelling of the story is adapted from a combination of Bob Lupton’s Urban Perspective publication “Let’s Go Fishing, (Again)!  and Caleb O. Oladipo’s article “John 21:15-17” Interpretation pp65-66.]

By the time the others hauled the bulging net to the beach,
the still wet Peter was warming his hands by a crackling fire talking with Jesus, who appeared a little different.
This Peter was a little different, too.
Bold as he’s always been he dove in the water,
Why Peter didn’t he walk on water as he had tried before?

Maybe he’s a little hesitant, especially when he realizes what’s really going on.
The last time he was warming his hands around a crackling fire was just before Jesus crucifixion.
I will not deny you Lord, I’ll stay with you to the end, he had promised.
But, after Jesus’ conviction, it was hard enough to navigate the big city with those strange folks.  
Jesus was gone, Peter might be next, what difference did it make if he changed his mind.

Aren’t you one of Jesus’ men? Peter was asked around that fire.
I tell you  I don’t know the man,” came the response.
Three times he denied Jesus.  Peter hadn’t forgotten...

Did Jesus know Peter had denied him? Lied? How close could he get?

“Come on over, join me be the fire.  Have some breakfast.”

When stomachs were full and good friends relaxed around the warm embers,
Jesus directed the conversation to Peter.  “Simon, son of John…”  
Jesus uses the full title of Peter...
In Nigeria, especially among the Yoruba people, the use of a full title of an individual implies that an important message is to follow.

“Simon, son of John, do you love me?
By asking Peter, Do you love me....the focus is on Peter’s love for Jesus.

But, the questions stung a bit as Peter remembered his cowardly act...
“I do love you, Master,” Peter reassured Him.  “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus directed.

“Do you love me, Simon, son of John?” the Master repeated.  
“Yes, Master,” Peter replied again, “I do love you.”  
again Jesus instructs, “Tend my sheep.”

Jesus looked directly at Peter and for the third time,
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”  What was Jesus getting at?!
“You know everything there is to know, Master,”
“You’ve got to know that I love you.” (frustration)

“Then feed my sheep.”   

The message was clear.  Three times denying. Three times redeeming.
Simon, son of John, the fisherman was being restored to Peter, the rock, fisher of men. And then:
“You will die one day, Peter. How shall you live your life?”  

“Follow me,” came the plain invitation.  And Peter did, again.

Jesus is not about punishing, humiliating, payback...what does this say about God?
Jesus shows the path of restoration, by calling on Peter to claim his true self as a servant of God,
rather than his false self which emerges out of fear....

Without this act of restoration, how might have Peter lived his life?
But, restoration came, and so did the church’s foundation.  

Who have we done wrong?
Who have we let down?
What do we hope from them in order to restore the relationship?
What are our attitudes toward them?
Peter dove in the water...and accepted an invitation to breakfast.

And then the real questions of power: Who has done us wrong?
Who has let us down? How do we seek restoration with them?
What is Jesus’ example with his disciples?

A great leader in South Africa once said:
"Those who think of themselves as victims eventually become the victimizers of others."
If we are harmed, we may go on the the journey of victim to victimizer - as individuals, as communities, and as nations.
But, the journey of healing is to move from being a victim to a survivor to a victor, to take back agency.

Denied and abandoned by his friends in his darkest hour...
Jesus joins them on the beach, helps them with their fishing project, invites them to share a meal...

And then the challenge to Peter...
restoration so that he may respond again to the invitation to follow.

Father Michael Lapsley is a former South African anti-apartheid activist. In 1990, three months after the release of Nelson Mandela, the ruling de Klerk government sent Father Lapsley a parcel containing a religious magazine with a highly sophisticated bomb planted inside. When Lapsley opened the magazine, the explosion blew off both of his hands, destroyed one eye and burned him severely. Father Lapsley went on to work at the Trauma Centre for Victims of Violence and Torture in Cape Town, South Africa, which assisted the Commission for Truth and Reconciliation headed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

In an interview shortly after the Boston bombings, Fr. Lapsley said as a response:
Well, firstly, compassion to those who died...
I guess, in a particular way, I identified with those who suffered traumatic amputation.
I’m conscious, as happened to me, that something happened in an instant, but people live with the consequences for the rest of their lives.

I’ve been encouraged that so much of the world has responded with kindness, generosity and compassion—the best which is in us.
But, I’ve had a sense of horror as well. I was watching a local television channel, and I was hearing a state senator defending torture. [People’s responses] to horrific things [can bring] out the worst in them.

My heart reaches out to the families of those who may have been responsible, and I wonder what it is that they may be going through.
I’m concerned about Islamophobia, which has been part of the response that we have seen.
I am concerned that, in the name of fear, rights that people in the United States developed over several centuries seem to keep being eroded.

In my experience, sometimes the survivor, the direct survivor, of a horrific incident, has an easier healing journey, in a strange kind of way, than people who get traumatized by what they hear and what they watch [from a distance].”

When Lapsley was asked what he would say to the person who tried to kill him, he responded:

A speculative question. I think if the person doesn’t care about what...they did to me..., I’m not sure that I want to meet them. If, however, they’re a prisoner of what they did to me, I have a key, and I would be very open to using that key.
If they ask for my forgiveness, one of the things I might say to them:
"Well, excuse me, sir, do you still make letter bombs?"
And they say, "No, no, no. Actually I work at the local hospital."
My response would be, "I forgive you. And I would prefer you spend the next 50 years working in that hospital [instead of going to jail], because I believe a thousand times more in the justice of restoration than the justice of punishment."

So often when we say "justice," we mean punishment, if not revenge.
This type of retributive justice asks the question, "How can you punish them for what they did?"

But there’s another kind of justice: the justice of the journey of restoring relationships.
Restorative justice says: "This reality of life has been destroyed or broken by what has happened. How can we restore the relationship?"

So often in restorative justice, the key actors in the process are central,
differently often when retributive justice happens, the actual direct survivors and victims are swept aside, and the state then acts on their behalf.

Lapsley says he might also say to the person who harmed him:
"Well, yes, I have forgiven you, but I still only have one eye. I still have no hands. I’ll always need someone to assist me for the rest of my life. Of course, you will help pay for that person," so that reparation and restitution are also part of the journey of forgiveness.

Lapsley notes, Key to this work is healing of memories.
If horrible things have been done to us or to our loved ones, people are justified to hate, to be bitter, even want revenge. But the problem is, if we keep those feelings inside of us, it doesn’t destroy our enemies, it destroys us.
How might we give people safe and sacred spaces, where they can detoxify,
where they can deal with the poison inside them, so that they may be free.

Lapsley came to see that if he was filled with hatred and bitterness and desire for revenge, the person who set the bomb would have failed to kill the body, but would have killed the soul.

He calls the work of healing and restoration the "soft vengeance of a freedom fighter," working for a different kind of society, a gentler, kinder, more just society.

Safe space, on a beach, around a fire, with food.  Jesus knew well restoration, healing, kindness.  

I find it interesting that before Jesus re-invites Peter to follow, he calls attention to the reality that Peter will die, his life will end.

Our time is limited, Some day, we will all share in that common experience called Death.  

There is a quote that goes something like:
"If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right."

How might you work to restore relationships today, if this is your last day to do so?
How would live differently, if this were your last day?

Ric Elias was sitting on the front row of the 2009 US Airways Flight which Captain Sculley brilliantly landed in the waters of the Hudson River after losing power from a bird strike.
In those surreal moments as that silent plane sank rapidly toward the Hudson, in the face of sure death, Elias says he learned three things:
1. He said he learned that it all changes in an instant. He thought about all the people he wanted to reach out to, all the fences he wanted to mend, all the experiences he wanted to have but he didn’t.  
2. The second thing he learned: He regretted the time he had wasted on things that did not matter with people that matter--his wife, his friends, his kids...When given a second chance, he decided to eliminate negative energy from his life, he would not allow petty things to negatively affect his relationships, he would no longer try to be right ... he hadn’t had a fight with his wife in 2 years!
3. The third thing he learned: He knew he was going to die, and he was sad, he wished for one thing...he wanted to see his kids grow up.  He learned a new top priority: to be a great dad.
Elias said, "I was given the gift of two miracles that day. The first was I survived. The second ... to see into the future and to come back and to live differently." “Three things I learned while my plane crashed," TED: Ideas Worth Spreading,

Peter you will die... live life differently, follow me.

How is God restoring us to living life abundantly?
How are we acting to restore others to living life at their full potential?
How are we being called again and again to leave the former things behind and live into the new reality, the new creation God is making before our very eyes through the healing of our hearts and the redemption of our memories?
Feed. Fear not. Follow.

Watch the world being restored before you.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Discover Life, Again: Passion

Part 2 of John 21
How many have figured out what you wanted to do when you grow up?
What do you want to do when you grow up?
Have any of you figured out what really motivates you, inspires you, gives you energy to spend countless hours working and yet, you’re willing to give more?
Have you found what you're passionate about and following that passion? For those of you who figured it out...awesome. You’re super lucky. For the rest of us... How many of our hours do we spend just watching the clock, watching the weather, watching Oprah reading, people magazine, following tweets, waiting for the next big thing to happen. Is that really living? Is that how you want to live?

Admittedly we get stuck. I mentioned last week: After Jesus’ death, and even after his resurrection and his appearing before them, they seem to be still a little shaken, a little stuck. They return to what they know as they regroup. They go fishing. The disciples had been out fishing all night...
Jesus, apparently, calls to them, “how they biting?” “We ain’t caught a thing.” How many hours of life do we spend with empty nets? Hoping something might come along to provide fulfillment..countless hours of fishing...nothing! And Jesus says, “Cast your nets on the right side of the boat; you’ll find fish there!”
Was this a statement about political persuasions? Ah, I couldn't resist. Basically Jesus is saying: "Hey, if life’s not working for you, try something else. Consider a different approach. Take a little chance. If you're empty over here, cast your nets over there... you have the tools, you have the ability, just hear my voice, make a little your passion, discover what you love to do, discover life."

Steve Jobs, who's responsible for this thing (iPad), gave an inspiring speech about discovering what he loved to do to young graduates from Stanford in 2005. He says: I was lucky - I found what I loved to do early in life. [starting] Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation - the Macintosh - a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him.So at 30 I was out.

What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating. Jobs remembers, I really didn't know what to do for a few months.... I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me - I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over. I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life. During that period Jobs started two companies, including Pixar - which made Toy Story - And, he says, “I fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife and we would have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple, jobs reflected. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. Your Work [fills] a large part of your life, and the only Way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle.

Don't settle with how you’re spending your days if your nets are empty all the time. Life is too short to be fishing with empty nets. for those who have retired you probably need to resist settling more than working folks.. all the world says you're to do is retire, step aside, do nothing....
I'm reminded of what Linkin Newton said frequently, you can't retire from jesus! Jesus' call from the shore--discover life! --Is for everyone! No matter your age, occupation, or ability, all of us, deep down, want our life to be full of meaning, purpose, hope, we want our nets to be full. If things aren’t going your way, maybe just do things a little differently, cast your nets to the other side of the boat..there is life out there! The problem is, of course, how do we know where we need to be fishing? Not only how do we figure out what we’re passionate about; but, even more deeply, how do we discern God’s voice?

Even if Jesus is on the lake shore, shouting to us, jumping up and down, screaming... "The other side! Over there! Look...! all the fish...!" The noise of the waves crashing against the boat; the chatter of the others on the boat... we may not even see Jesus....

There are all kinds of different voices calling you to do all kinds of things, and the challenge is to find out which is the voice of God, rather than that of society, say, or the super-ego, or self-interest. We can waste so much time living someone else's life--doing what others think we should be doing, trapped into living with the results of other people's thinking - aka dogma. How do we keep the noises around us from drowning out what God is calling us to do...?

Frederick Buechner, in a recent blog post, said: By and large a good rule for finding out what God is calling you to do is the following: the kind of tasks God usually calls you to are the kind of tasks (a) that you most need to do--[ what you are passionate about], and (b) that the world most needs to have done. If you really get a kick out of what you do on a daily basis, you've presumably met requirement (a), but if you sense what you do really doesn’t really amount to much for the good of the world - Buechner suggests for example writing ads for deodorant commercials - the chances are you've missed requirement (b). On the other hand, if your work is being a doctor in a leper colony, you've probably met requirement (b), but if most of the time you're bored and depressed by your work, the chances are that you've not only bypassed (a), but probably aren't helping your patients much either. “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.” (The Place God Calls you To)

We have to pay here. And then, have the courage to follow that calling.

I love the story of Peace Pilgrim . An amazing activist recently featured on a great program: Peace Talks Radio, which began: “In 1953, Mildred Norman set off from the Rose Bowl parade on New Year's Day walking- the Korean War was still under way, and an ominous threat of a nuclear attack was on the minds of many Americans. And so, with "Peace Pilgrim" written across her shirt, she began walking "coast to coast for peace."
She walked for 28 years. She never used money. She wore the same clothes every day: blue pants and a blue tunic that held everything she owned: a pen, a comb, a toothbrush and a map. "I own only what I wear and carry. I just walk until given shelter, fast until given food," she said. "I don't even ask; it's given without asking. I tell you, people are good. There's a spark of good in everybody."

Her journey to work for peace stemmed from a childhood experience: One night in the late 1930s, "out of a feeling of deep seeking for a meaningful way of life," she began walking through the woods. She recalls, "After I had walked almost all night, I came out into a clearing where the moonlight was shining down. And something just motivated me to speak and I found myself saying, 'If you can use me for anything, please use me. Here I am, take all of me, use me as you will, I withhold nothing,' " Peace Pilgrim remembers: "That night, I experienced the complete willingness, without any reservations whatsoever, to give my life to something beyond myself." The motto Peace Pilgrim had sewn on the back of her tunic when she started out, "Walking Coast to Coast for Peace," quickly became outdated. By 1964 she had already walked 25,000 miles. Eventually, she stopped counting.

In July 1981, Peace Pilgrim was interviewed by Ted Hayes, the manager of a small radio station in Knox, Ind. "Peace Pilgrim, you know, there are a certain number of people who would probably think of somebody like yourself as a kook or a nut," Hayes said. "Well, I'm quite sure that some of those who have just heard of me must think I'm completely off the beam," Peace Pilgrim responded. "After all, I am doing something different. And pioneers have always been looked upon as being a bit strange. 'I shall remain a wanderer until [hu]mankind has learned the way of peace.
Hayes in the interview noted how she appeared to be a most happy woman."
[This response here at Minute 11:17]: "I certainly am a happy person," Peace Pilgrim responded. "Who could know God and not be joyous? I want to wish you all peace."

Peace be with you, Jesus breathed on his disciples. Don’t spend your days wasting time tending to endeavors that leave you empty. ..all of us have today to make life discovering changes if we need to. And as a church community, when we find ourselves engaging activities or aspects of church that aren’t life giving....let’s not waste our time on those things... discernment about the future of this congregation together begins today in just a few minutes.
Keep doing what you’re good at, but if you sense a need to change, Don’t be afraid--Cast your net to one side. And if your passion isn’t there, cast again and if not there, cast again And if you still are coming up empty...maybe it’s time to get off the boat, sit with Jesus a while, Sit, until others who have full nets come to shore and join with them in bringing the catch in...
Seek and ye shall find... If life is not fulfilling...Keep will find life. I pray it is so, in the name of life giver, the life teacher and the life sustainer. Amen

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Discover Life, Again: Encouragement

John 21:1-19 Part 1: John 21:1-8
[The retelling of the story is Adapted from Bob Lupton’s Urban Perspective publication “Let’s Go Fishing, (Again)!]
Three years. Hard work. Days and often nights. For what? The person you believed in, who you thought was going to bring real no longer around You gave it your very best, you reached deep down into your reserves and offered up all you had, you sacrificed your career, neglected your family, spent your resources, all in the belief that this man, this unusually gifted and inspiring man, would become – must become – the next great leader.

The defeat was crushing. the vision that stirred your soul vanished, The crowds are gone. there is no more adrenalin left to summon, You’re simply numb..... What will you do now? You thought you were going to make a big it’s all meaningless.

But, you can’t just sit around brooding over your coffee, feeling sorry for yourself. Might as well go and try to pick up the pieces of your old life. Six disheartened associates trudge alongside you, all heading home like whipped pups, with tails between their legs. “I don’t know what you guys feel like doing, but I’m going fishing!” you declare. “We’ll go, too,” they all chime in.

Ah the good ole But, the boys were down on their luck, or maybe a bit rusty.... Out all night fishing, nothing but empty nets. Dawn was breaking. A man on shore calls out: “Morning! Catch anything?” “Naw,” they holler. “Throw your net off the right side of the boat, you’ll catch some” the stranger calls back. Who is this guy? We’re the professionals...we’re the disciples...Oh well, Nothing to lose.

Soon, the net started tugging with fish, big ones. Seven weary fishermen become instantly wide eyed with excitement. “It’s the Master!” Peter looks, rubbing his hazed sleepless morning eyes. It has to be! SPLASH! He dives in. “Swim, Peter, Swim! Don’t worry about us and all these fish!”

This story is so rich, so interesting, even though Jesus had appeared to these disciples, even though Thomas had touched his feet and hands, even though Jesus had breathed Peace on them and commissioned them: Just as my Father has sent me, so I send you. Even with all of this, they’re just not quite there...yet THey have to do what they know... retrace their steps. They have to go fishing. It’s safe, familiar, We can certainly understand.

This is a story for disciples who get stuck. Even though we’ve had our conversion experiences, even though we’ve sought to serve God in our lives... even though we’ve experienced easter after easter. Sometimes we just get stuck... a tragedy happened. Expectations weren’t met. Disappointment after disappointment... Monotony of life lulls us to sleep... “The idea of getting stuck makes me sad,” writes Emily Rapp in The Still Point of the Turning World - her memoir about the death of her two year old son. “Don’t get stuck! we tell one another. Erase those old tapes about who you are and move on! But to where? And to what? And why?” (p.99)

Sometimes we can’t help but to resort back to what we know. When we’re stuck, we give up a bit, become more isolated in our own little worlds.. What difference does it make anyway?

I love that Jesus, this random guy from the disciples’ perspective, is just standing there on the shore watching his stuck friends. Morning! Catch anything?! Nope... Try the other side of the boat. He doesn’t scold them for not doing what he told them to: Shouldn’t you be doing something else...that’s why you’re nets are empty.... He doesn’t criticize them for going fishing. Just a small word of encouragement in their fishing. Don’t give up, don’t let empty nets get you down. Another cast...then see.

The letter to the Hebrews says: Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds (10:24) there is something within each of us that has the power to change the world...

What happens when we see that potential...the goodness and life-spirit.. in all beings and give a little encouragement. What happens when others see that potential in us, and they encourage us. Even if we’re just out doing our routine thing...even or especially when we’re stuck “Sister, you’re the best!” or, “Brother, you’re awesome!” Children, cast your nets again...

The late Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, a great encourager, loved telling this story: A young man AND woman, both orphans, were to be married. Neighbors in their small Ukrainian town had contributed by finding work for the young man, a small room for the couple to live in, and clothes and food for the wedding. It was time to celebrate. The morning of the wedding the young man walked eagerly to the ritual bath, to prepare for the wedding. The chief of police was waiting outside. He immediately arrested the bridegroom and told the elders who were standing nearby that if they wanted the bridegroom to be released, they’d have to pay a bail of ten thousand roubles. Ten thousand roubles! The men didn’t even bother to ask the policeman what the young man had done. Every few months the police would seize another Jew to get money to pay for gambling. But, ten thousand roubles? That was more than the police had ever asked. How could they raise that much money?

Word went through the community. We need money, lots of money. People looked through their homes for something to give—clothes, chickens, a pot, a pan, a candlestick, a goat. When they counted it up they had five hundred roubles. They needed ten thousand roubles. What to do?

At this time, three rabbis were visiting the town. One, a young rabbi called the Alter (means, the elder), along with two older rabbis. The three rabbis consulted. This was an emergency. Suddenly, Rabbi Alter said, “There’s a solution. It’s Zev.” “Zev?!” The elder rabbis exclaimed. “Zev, the miser? He hates people. He built his house on the hill so no one would bother him. He has a sign in front of his house: ‘NO TRESPASSERS.’ He shoots if you come in sight of his house. He converted from Judaism so he could make more money! Why even consider him?” “It’s not me who is considering,” said Alter. “It’s heaven who is pointing. besides, who else in this town has ten thousand roubles? I’m going to see Zev.” “You can’t go,” said the others.
“He’ll shoot you. We’ll go with you and protect you.”
“On one condition,” demanded Alter, “I do the talking and no matter what I say, you smile. Do you agree?” They agreed.

The three rabbis started up the hill together. The first miracle of the day: Zev did not shoot.

They knocked at the door and Zev himself answered, “Rabbis,” he said. “GOOD MAN,” Alter began. “What a blessing that you opened the door. What a blessing to see you.” Alter poked the other two, who smiled. “Good man, we would never disturb you but it’s an emergency. A big one. Yankel, an orphan, who is to marry Hannah, another orphan, has been arrested, today, on his wedding day. He’s done nothing wrong. The police chief who arrested him gambled away ten thousand roubles, so he needs to repay the money. That’s why we need ten thousand roubles. We know you have a good heart—” Alter took a breath.
“Emergency?” inquired Zev. “You are fortunate. I have emergency funds. I’ll get them for you. Wait.” He went into his house and returned with a penny. One penny. “From my emergency fund,” he said, holding up the penny.
“Wonderful,” said Alter. “What an excellent beginning. We all thank you. Yankel thanks you. Hannah, his bride, thanks you. Each of us appreciates your kindness.” As Rabbi Alter bowed, he poked his brothers, who bowed and remembered to smile. Zev shut the door.
The three started down the hill. “What were you thinking?” The others chided the young Rabbi, Then they heard someone running after them. Zev’s servant: “My master has more funds for you. Please return.”
Zev was waiting for them. “I have found more,” he said and held out another penny. The eyebrows of the two older rabbis shot up in astonishment. Alter said, “How very wonderful. Zev, you have a heart of gold. What goodness, what a difference this is going to make to this young man’s life.” At that moment, the three rabbis saw a light go on in Zev’s eyes: “Wait. Wait. I have more.” In he went, to return with a rouble. One rouble. The older rabbis thought that this could take years, even centuries. Alter said, “Zev, what an extraordinary person you are. You are giving so much. Zev, we thank you. We are so grateful to you,” and he poked his brothers, who remembered to smile. Zev said, “Okay, just wait here.” Zev came back with another rouble. They continued to smile. “Wait,” he said, and after a half hour he brought out ten roubles. An hour went by and he gave them a thousand roubles, then two thousand, then five, then....

Then he stopped and said, “This young orphan, Yankel, he doesn’t have a father... Who will be giving Yankel away? What if I give him away? What do you think?” “Wonderful idea,” they all agreed. Second miracle of the day: Zev gave the necessary ten thousand roubles so that Yankel could be released from prison. Third miracle: the joy of giving overcame Zev and he realized that he couldn’t stop there. He wanted to provide for Hannah as well as for Yankel. He wanted to provide for the education of their children and for all the orphaned children in the town.

It was one of the happiest weddings anyone had ever attended. There was singing and dancing. Zev danced with the bride. He danced with the groom. In his happiness, he danced with almost everyone at the wedding.

At the end of the party, in the early morning hours, the three rabbis returned to the synagogue. The two older ones asked Alter, “How did you know? How did you know it was Zev?” “The only person with enough roubles to pay the bail was Zev,” reasoned Alter. “Heaven knew Zev wanted to give. We all want to give. Every one of us wants to give, but sometimes we don’t know how. Our spiritual muscles are weak, untrained. We need some help. We need encouragement. Sometimes we think others aren’t doing enough but it may be that they are doing all that they can until they get the encouragement to build up their muscles and do more. In the beginning Zev only knew how to give one penny. We can help to open the hearts of those who don’t even know how eager they are to give.” (Adapted from Diane Wolkstein adaptation from Shlomo Carlebach’s telling as found in Parabola Spring 2013 edition))

"Children, have you caught anything? Cast your net on the other side."

I love Peter’s reaction...He Jumps in the water to get to Jesus. an outburst of love! In our baptisms, we have touched that water... Water that reminds us again and again I’m on your side...I’m with you..I promise. . Jesus on the boat calms the harshest storms Jesus off the boat gives us a little encouragement The Christ of the universe is with us, just beckoning us ...keep following in the way of God. I know you have it in you; You know you have it in you... Go will be find full nets... Go fishing by sharing God’s love for the world will find life....

Let us pray... Oh God of Life. You want us to live fully! You want us to live with joy! We want that as well. But sometimes it’s hard to keep going. When we get down, come along side the shore; in the form of a friend, a stranger, an angel and share a word of encouragement. When we meet others let us be agents of encouragement in the form of a friend, a stranger, an angel. So that we may gather ourselves again and continue the work for your kingdom of peace and justice.