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Jesus said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” – John 21:17  

Last week I did some continuing education at the border of Wisconsin and Minnesota at a beautiful camp called Camp Wapo – Lake Wapogesset Lutheran Bible Camp.  My friend Suzi, a seminary classmate, is the director of the camp. Another pastor friend, Megan from Iowa, joined us at the camp. It was a time to breath, hike, read, and process. Yes, Lent and especially, Holy Week can take a lot out of pastors and staff, but even more so, I confess, the last two years have taken a bit of toll on me and I am sure on you too – the pandemic, the dividedness of our country, the loss of jobs,  the growing mental health challenges for people, the death of loved ones, the hurtful laws to the LGBTQ community, the gang mentality among people passionate about their point of views, the loss of focus on following Jesus and caring for our neighbors, the decline in church attendance and volunteers, the neighbors turning against neighbors – it’s all a bit much and can overwhelm our human spirit.     

The disciples in this week’s Gospel are most certainly overwhelmed by the last week of Jesus’ life, the dividedness of people, the anger, and the death of Jesus had taken a on toll on them. The human spirit can take only so much. Following all these events, it seemed the disciples needed some time and space to get their bearings again and Peter says, “I’m going fishing.” Fishing, something familiar. This is how we often respond to emotional overload, and the disciples’ decision to return to their former life and trade sets us up to realize, that wherever they go, God will be with them.   

And could it be that when we step back and breath and put ourselves in the ordinary that it is the key to help us to recognize and see God in our daily lives. Maybe the risen Jesus offers the Peter in each of us still another way to recognize God in our day to day lives. The Gospel reading this week gives us some guidance in surviving, and even overcoming, situations that threaten to overwhelm us.   

Stepping back and praying and being ordinary helps us to recognize the presence of God, even in the most routine and familiar times of our over-busy lives. Feeding Jesus’ sheep is a concrete way for us to stay in relationship with the God, as well to show our love for Jesus, “not only with our lips, but in our lives.” Amen.