Group reflection: Intimate grounded presence

Tonight we reflected on John 21:19-31, the story of the Risen Jesus appearing to the disciples as they were fishing. We spent time sitting with the reading and then chatted about our responses: in particular, the sense that after all the chaos and trauma, Jesus helped the disciples “move on and find the fish”, and how much we too need to rest in his intimate, grounded presence.

What do we notice? What do these texts remind us of in the world, Bible, church or ourselves? What word does the text speak today?

  • We sensed the intimacy of a coal fire, sitting with friends, eating, and hanging out together. It brought memories of camping, eating outside, being present to the natural world and each other whilst sharing in a simple meal.  A very grounded experience.
  • We felt like it is a total “spin out” that Jesus, who had been crucified, was there with them in their everyday activities again.
  • We noticed the physicality of Jesus. He was no ghost, but there. How could disciples process this? – cognitive dissonance!
  • Jesus’ words “come and eat” – a simple invitation and a reminder of the Lord’s supper.
  • It was comforting that after the busyness of life with Jesus on the road, the promise of a new kingdom, the trauma of losing Jesus, and then his crucifixion, now they were going back to what was normal, and this is what we do as humans when we face a traumatic experience and try to get on with life. He was helping them move on and find the fish; gently gathering them together and showing them he was still present.
  • The favouritism which Jesus seemed to give Peter was weird, as we look at it with eyes of our current parenting culture where to play favourites is not acceptable.
  • We noticed that Jesus asked Peter three times who he was and this repeated the pattern of when Peter denied Jesus three times, also sitting around a coal fire.
  • We talked about our need to be busy and our inability to rest in Jesus and just accept his presence. Some of us remembered a beautiful picture painted by Tanya, reminding us of God sheltering us under wings, comforting and creating a safe place.
  • A funny aside was the image of a t shirt which says, “Look busy, Jesus is coming!” How bizarre that we should need to justify ourselves by being busy, and yet that is often how it seems!
  • Then there is the simple offer “follow me.” Are we able to let go and trust that we will be led, despite us having no idea what is coming next?
  • One of us talked about physically hugging a pillow, imagining leaning into Jesus’ chest, when she felt totally bereft, missing another’s touch and that all embracing hug.
  • Finally we reflected on the idea of Mother God, and the safety of that image nurturing us, breastfeeding us, scooping us up when we are hurt, embracing us when we are confused, unsettled, scared, traumatized … indeed being a place of rest and sustenance. Ω

Reflect: When have you experienced Jesus’ presence after loss, suffering or shame? What normal activities did you need to return to? What helped you rest in God’s presence? 

A Sanctuary conversation on John 21:19-31 on 1 May 2022 © Sanctuary 2022 (Year C Pascha 3). Photo by Clint Bustrillos on Unsplash.

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