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Feed my sheep.

March 17, 2011

Our next stop was at the Chapel of the Primacy.  This is the place where Jesus may have called some of the disciples to leave their boats and become fishers of people.  This is the place where Jesus is thought to have appeared to his disciples for the third time after his Resurrection.  And over the rock he supposedly stood on, they built a church.

Before exploring the chapel or the beach of the famous fish barbeque breakfast (John 21:9-14), we gathered in the shade under a huge tree and listened as John Simmons shared his passion for this place.  He read us the gospel from John 21:1-19.  We heard about Jesus appearing, telling the disciples to throw their fishing net one more time over the other side of the boat, and hearing that famous interrogation between Peter and Jesus.  The risen Lord needed to hear, not that Peter truly loved him, but that he would go and feed his sheep.  Three times the question was asked, and three times Peter answered with assurance.  This was not Jesus’ way of punishing Peter for denying him three times before his death.  It was Jesus’ way of emphasizing the importance of creating and caring for the new disciples once he was gone.  On the beach there lay six heart-shaped stones…one for each question, one for each answer.

John assured us that this is a place of redemption.  This is a place where all of us can recognize our messiness and our sinfulness, and receive the hope of redemption through the appearance of our Lord.  Beside the chapel is a rock that John had called the “Wesleyan Wailing Wall.”  Visitors from all over had come and written notes or prayers on tiny pieces of paper, rolled them up, and placed them in the cracks of the rock.  John asked us these two questions: “What is your particular witness that you have for the world?  What is it that God has redeemed in your life?”

The importance in this place, and of the call and response Jesus invites us into, is not only for us to feel forgiven or redeemed, but to use that renewing grace and to go and feed Jesus’ sheep.  It was not a question asked only of Peter.  Jesus is still asking us today…”Do you love me?  Then feed my sheep.”

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