Rev Anita Venter (Bethlehem Bible College)
Sunday 5th of May 2019, St Andrews Jerusalem & Tiberias
3rd Sunday of Easter (Year C)
Acts 9: 1-6 & St John 21: 1-19
In the wake of tragedy, arises opportunity!
Let us pray. Lord, we thank you for the gift of your Word and as we think on these things, open our hearts and our minds to hear you and to go and do likewise. Amen.
Kintsukuroi … is a Japanese word that I am not even sure I pronounce correctly. However, I am fascinated by its meaning which is “golden repair”. Dating back to the 15th century Kintsukuroi is an art, using a special lacquer or epoxy dusted with powdered gold, silver or platinum to restore any broken pottery. According to legend, the craft started when Japanese shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa sent a cracked tea bowl back to China for repair.
Based on the Japanese feeling of mottainai, which expresses regret when something is wasted, as well as mushin, the acceptance of change, the people of Japan rather restore than toss a broken pottery away. The practice is related to the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, which calls for seeing beauty in the flawed or imperfect.
Stunning seams of gold shimmering in the cracks or the replacement fragments, as well as the combination of two aesthetically different works, emphasize its fractures and breaks instead of disguising them -rather giving them a unique appearance, celebrating each artifact’s distinctive history.
This meticulous method of restoration is often very time consuming. Piece by piece and with great zeal the broken item is revitalized with new life making the piece of pottery even more beautiful than the original.
As people would behold its unique beauty, the pottery with all its golden cracks and other inlays would be a once broken vessel touching the hearts of those who see it with a story of restoration. It would be an invitation to meet the person who took this item and with great love and passion turned it into a unique work of art.
One could say that in the wake of the tragedy of a broken vessel, the Japanese find an opportunity to restore.
In this passion to restore something broken I see some similarities in our gospel story. A beautiful story of grace, compassion, loving kindness and passion to reinstate.
Jesus, being sold to the enemy, betrayed and deserted in his darkest hour by those closest to him, according to our world view, certainly has much reason to be angry, to retaliate, resort to violence or at minimum toss away his friends like an old broken piece of pottery. Yet, once again he challenges status quo.
After the resurrection bit by bit, Jesus is restoring his disciples; showering them with love and care and attention, he reinstates them to their former beauty and even far beyond.
This was the third time that Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples. The first to Mary Magdalene restoring her sorrow to joy.
The second time was behind closed doors when he restored the faith of Thomas without judgment and here, at the sea of Galilea where he initially called his disciples, Jesus reveals himself again to them restoring the friendship of those who left and betrayed him.
Haunted by their failure to stand with their friend, haunted by the news and image of the crucified Christ, even since the appearance of the resurrected Christ to them the last time, the disciples had given up all hope. In desolation they disbanded the group and went back home to their previous lives and jobs.
The sin of utmost betrayal forgiven, Jesus leaves the many to speak to one with forgiveness, intimacy, and invitation. He takes his time and sits with Peter encouraging him little by little to take up his purpose to feed God’s sheep and ultimately follow him.
Jesus picks up the broken pieces of the lives that have been shattered and begins to restore them. He heals their broken hearts and reinstates them to that which he had called them in the beginning … to follow him and be his ambassadors.
Through the Holy Spirit the cracks and fragments of these broken vessels begin to shimmer with love and compassion and restoration that touches the lives of all who encounter them.
The author of John affirms the invitation that has always been the concern of God: that is the redemption, reconciliation and restoration of all humanity. For that very reason, another chapter indicates we have not arrived at the end of the story yet. Resurrection appearances confirmed and Jesus’ Lordship confessed is an invitation, not a conclusion.
Having heard the Easter events, what is there for the community to do now? Jesus is clear – follow me – go and do likewise – feed my sheep.
Today Jesus continues to restore us too. As restored vessels that have been fixed with golden cracks and fragments and colorful inlays our purpose has changed.
One could almost say that our old occupation has been transformed into a godly mission. We are no longer just a beautiful vessel on a shelf to see, but we are now to be picked up for our cracks to be investigated and as they are, we begin to portray God’s immense love and work of restoration through our flaws, imperfections and change. We become a testimony, an invitation for someone to meet the one who has restored us, an opportunity to feed God’s sheep, to take care of his people.
Saul breathing threats and murder against the early Church reminds us of the latest wave of attacks on houses of worship in the world. The recent attacks on Muslims in New Zealand, Christians in Sri Lanka and Jews in California are truly tragedies and together we mourn the loss of loved ones … but they are also opportunities.
For us, this is an opportunity to end that very cycle and bring restoration.
Instead of acting with vengeance, or posting hate speech on social media thereby encouraging more anger and hatred, this is an opportunity to say, “Hatred will not take me. Hatred will not thrive in my community. Let there be reconciliation. Let there be Love.” This is an opportunity to reach across the borders of religion and embrace those who mourn.
So in the wake of the tragedy of a world that is destroyed with hatred and violence, the tragedy in our communities where siblings and neighbors and people of different religions turn against each other and relationships are destroyed, in the wake of the tragedy of a world drowned in poverty and abuse of women and children, rises the opportunity to bring restoration.
May the resurrection and restoration power of Christ awake in us a greater spiritual force, strength and passion to follow Him and pursue our God-given purpose to imitate Christ, to embody resurrection and bring restoration.
To reach out with His heart, His mind and His hands, to embrace, to touch, to bind up wounds, to feed, to encourage, to lift up, to support ….. to walk in His footsteps living out His love and bring restoration into every area in this broken world.
May it be so in the name of Jesus.