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Moment to Movement: Vulnerability Welcome

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THE POINT: We don’t have to be some idealized version of a Christian. There is healing and hope here.

  • What's the deal with Peter being naked?
    • This doesn't sound like the most deeply theological question, but it's still one that's out there.
    • It's an interesting word in the text itself: gymnos.
      • In general, it doesn't necessarily mean completely naked, but instead with loose-fitting clothing
      • But still, why does John feel the need to let us know this?
  • Peter's last few weeks
    • We know that Peter hasn't had the best of it over the last few weeks - if you remember back at Easter, we reviewed his Holy Week and saw how things really just went from bad to worse, culminating in his denial of Jesus at the end.
    • And it's not a far stretch to imagine Peter still is wracked by all sorts of feelings.
    • But, as any of us who have been tasked with the work of counseling grief will often say, one of the ways we manage is to try as best we can to try to, at some point, get back into the rhythms of life - the things you know, even if they feel more empty for a time. And it seems like the disciples are doing just that: going back to the sea to fish again.
    • And, in a brilliant call back, Jesus once again make the nets full - a reminder to the disciples of who they were talking to once again
    • But what is so fascinating is what Peter's next move is - he wants to see Jesus - that much is clear, but first, he clothes himself again.
    • That seems odd too, that we hear that. Why does it matter if Peter's loosely clothed in order to see Jesus again?
  • What if it has nothing to do with his clothes at all, but his heart?
    • Because what would any of us do when faced with the things we struggle with, and the things we know we're hurt by through what's happened in our world suddenly being brought right to the fore by the object of that brought right back to life?
    • We'd likely be scared, and want to shield that vulnerability right then and there.
    • It's so hard to be exposed in our grief, in our pain.
    • But as the text goes along, we see that Jesus has no need of shaming, or vengeance. Instead:
      • They spend time together: they eat. And I'm sure not in silence. They probably talked, laughed, caught up.
      • And then, Jesus get to the heart of things, and very simply - Peter, do you love me?
        • The first and second time, it seems very non-descript: yes, Jesus, obviously I do.
        • But that third time is different. Peter is hurt by Jesus' continued asking... a combination of feelings somewhere between anger and sadness.
        • This reminds me of one of the most gripping scenes of Good Will Hunting - Robin William's character is working with Matt Damon, and continues to say to him "It's not your fault" after revelations about his past come to bear, which has made Damon's character prone to self-destruction, limiting his gifts.
        • It would seem for Peter and Jesus that finally, Peter is truly exposed. And Jesus answers him the same way - feed my sheep. Do the thing that I always knew you could do, the thing you've been made to do.
  • While this sermon is titled "Imperfection Welcome" I think it could just as easily be called "Vulnerability welcome." For the easter moment to become a movement, those who follow and make it needed to take to heart that Jesus was there for restoration and healing, not just simply holding on to what they believed separated them and use it as a shield or as a stable comfort.
  • This is something admittedly hard for us to do both personally, but also corporately.
    • The word "unchurched" has come up a lot more in the last few weeks. It's always struck an odd chord with me, because it's often coupled with an action that leads primarily to getting people into the church.
    • But that seems to miss asking the question why... why are folks walking away?
    • The answer may in part lie somewhere in between Simon Peter and Will Hunting
      • For many, the church became an unsafe place to be. The collective shields we all put up to protect ourselves and the fears we present as truth becomes so damaging, the only place to go is onto the boats, back to work again.
      • This has been something I heard over and over again as I've built relationships with people in Jacksonville who share many of the same dreams and hopes we do as a church, but won't be caught in a sanctuary... that the church had hurt them deeply. And so, once again, the church applies new labels to them, and hands another cloak for them to wear - the unchurched, apparently in need of some kind of rescuing.
      • And that's to say nothing of the realities of those of us who have stayed within the church, and still carry the pains of the past. Most of the angriest people in the church are holding fears and hurt and perhaps tell themselves stories that they simply don't matter. And so, they put on layers even as they meet Jesus.
    • What would a community of believers be like if what was heard more was to attend to the heart, and make it a place to be open?
      • To not feel the shame of circumstance, and to not be bound by the stories we tell ourselves?
      • To hear Christ say to others that they - we - are still called to the task we believed before things went sideways?
      • That would probably be revolutionary, or at least more like Jesus.
      • And if Jesus can heal Peter who had literally denied him three times, who are we to not do the same for literally everyone else who is ever within earshot of our reach?

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