Bonnie A. Perry
April 14, 2013
He was that person.
“That person” takes several forms.
That person can be the one
who says the thing
that makes everyone else wince.
True though it may be—
everyone else knows—
some tidbits are not to be uttered aloud.
Every one else understands this truism
except “that person.”
In the world of kayaking trips,
“that person” is the one
everyone else is always waiting for.
He or she is the last person packed,
the last person
with her sleeping bag stuffed into her boat,
the one whose foot pegs
need to be adjusted on the water,
the one who has forgotten
a vital piece of gear or equipment some place else.
In one of my
high-end kayak training classes in Scotland,
where I was the only American,
and the only woman,
the only one under 5’10”,
I was also the only one
who had forgotten
her life jacket, spray skirt, and paddle
in another bag, back at the gear shed.
Seriously they all looked at me
and took a collective step away
…I was “that person”…
(the instructor though—when I suggested he chide me said,
“Seriously Bonnie I can’t imagine
that I could say anything to you
that you haven’t already said to yourself
and much louder.”)
Well he was that person.
He was the one
everyone else was really glad
that they weren’t.
This was about a lot more
than not having his gear
in the right place at the right time.
He was the one
who was going to be there.
He was the one
who promised to stick with him
through it all.
But after the arrest,
as Jesus was being questioned
by the high priests,
after the fickle crowds
did what fickle crowds do—
when the obnoxious girl
made fun of his accent
right there in the high priest’s courtyard
—“listen to you—
you’ve got the same hick accent he has—
you’re a Galilean—
he’s a Galilean—surely you are one of them.”
“No no no. Not me.”
No no no—
I don’t know who or what you are talking about.”
Yeah he, Peter,
just became “that person.”
Think about it—
he’s probably the only one
who is kind of
about Jesus’ resurrection appearances.
How’s that got to feel?
Hey he’s not dead—he’s alive.
oh right—Jesus knows I’m that person.
Ever had that feeling?
When you see
that side of yourself,
that shallow, flawed, frail side,
that side of you that you know so well
and like so little?
They go to Galilee,
because Mary Magdalene said
that Jesus, up from the grave,
he has said,
go to Galilee and there
I will meet you.
So they go.
Peter who was supposed to be the rock
—upon which all will be built—
Peter goes too.
But I gotta figure
he must have been something of a mess.
So they get to the sea.
Peter says, I’m going fishing.
And the rest of the gang follows along.
There’s got to be some comfort
in at least doing the thing
Peter knows how to do.
to what he was doing long before
Jesus of Nazareth walked into his life.
All night long—
in two different boats—they fish.
I have to say, (as an aside)
there doesn’t ever seem to be
a single story in scripture
of these guys being successful fishermen—
without divine intervention.
Anyway—all night long
they ply the waters
and come up with nothing, nada.
Then as they are heading back to shore,
as the first rays of the sun
are beginning to splice through
the water’s darkness
a man from the beach calls out to them.
“Lads—did you catch anything?
Try throwing your nets off to the right side…”
than the dudes from Discovery Channel’s
Deadliest Catch ever had.
Then John, the apostle
the one who stayed by the cross,
the one who was with Jesus
to the very end,
he’s not blinded by self-loathing—
he sees who it is.
He sees that it’s Jesus on the beach.
He tells Peter.
Peter, God Bless him,
Peter puts on his clothes
and dives into the water.
He swims to shore.
He may be that person
but he’s not hiding from Jesus. He goes for it.
He gets to shore—now what?
Jesus has a little bar-b-q going:
fish and bread on the grill.
No one else has yet gotten to shore-
--Peter can’t stand being himself
with Jesus alone.
He goes back, wades into the water
and greets the boat as it lands.
He hauls out the net.
well he must have lined up that catch on the beach
—one flapping fish—
laying next to another—
how else would we know there were 153 of them?
Well eventually Jesus says,
“Come on over and get some food.”
Breakfast on the beach.
Food never tastes better
than when we get to eat it on the beach.
And in front of everyone else,
Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?”
Peter no doubt horrified
that he had denied Jesus before
“yes, you know I do.”
“Do you love me?
Yes I do.
Do you love me,
“Yes yes yes.”
I think Jesus asks him three times,
just so that Peter can hear himself say aloud
I love you Jesus—
as many times as he denied Jesus.
Jesus ends his interchange with Peter by saying,
Because with Jesus that person,
doesn’t stay on the edge.
the one the rest of us are all stepping away from,
that person is the one
Jesus moves toward.
With Jesus not one of us
is ever lost, let go of
or written off.
“That person” just doesn’t exist in Christ’s world.
In baptism this morning—
as we pour waters
from around the world on Nell,
we are saying to her
and reminding each of us—
that baptism—is what washes
the grit of shame and despair away.
Let’s be clear –not that Nell has any need of that—
no way—no how
she is beautiful and pure
and made in the image and likeness of God.
But this day
as we pour water on her beautiful head
we do so reminding ourselves
that for us and for her
from this day onward
we can never be forgotten,
excluded or set aside.
Nothing we can ever do
can permanently separate us from God.
In God, in Christ,
“that person” does not exist.
Alleluia. Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.
Copyright Bonnie A. Perry 2013