Keith Burrell, a Reader in Lyon, who has lived and ministered in the Diocese in Europe for many years, draws on this week’s lectionary readings (Zephaniah 3.14-end; John 21.1-19) for this post-Easter reflection.
‘The Lord will take great delight in you… will rejoice over you with singing.’ (Zephaniah 3.17). A much needed message of hope for today, particularly because I cannot remember a period when there has been so much bad news around. But hope there is, even as I start thinking about this verse on the train to Paris shortly after the terrible fire in Notre Dame, a fire which calls to mind the fire in York Minster when it was struck by lightening in 1984 and the one in Windsor Castle in 1992. And then on this Easter Sunday morning came the news of the murderous bomb attacks in Sri Lanka.
What is there to rejoice about? Zechariah’s message of hope takes on renewed meaning in the light of the resurrection, and Jesus’ proclamation of peace and love for a broken world. Despite Israel’s situation, Zechariah saw reason for hope in God’s joyous love for his creation, and there is hope for us in Jesus’ reinstatement of Peter – Peter the disciple who had denied him three times. Perhaps Jesus had that verse from Zechariah in mind when previously he had spoken of the joy in heaven over one sinner who repents (Luke 15). Be that as it may, Jesus has no words of recrimination for Peter. In fact, I think he rejoiced because Peter was still there among the disciples.
Jesus just has one simple question for Peter: ‘Do you love me?’ A question that every so often I feel he asks me. Do I love my Lord with all my heart, mind, soul and strength? Or do I hold little part of me back? Is he perhaps asking us all that same question today?
Both York Minster and Windsor Castle have been rebuilt – there is now scarcely any visible sign of those disasters – and already vast sums of money have been promised to restore Notre Dame.
Jesus calls us to offer the world around us something far more precious and valuable than money: love. Are we prepared to express our love for him by serving those around us and bringing joy, peace and love where there is none?
The little baby sitting opposite me in the train has an absolutely gorgeous wee smile. Will she still be smiling when she is grows up?
Are we bringing joy to our Lord, is he rejoicing over us because we are bringing joy and love to those around us by putting ourselves wholly at His service in every possible way and more?
This picture of the Good Shepherd – which comes from Sri Lanka and is available via the facebook page of the Anglican bishop of Kurunegala, Rt Revd Keerthi Fernando, reminds us of Jesus’ post-Easter invitation to Peter, ‘Tend my sheep’.