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Sermon Series on Brian McClaren’s book Naked Spirituality

Scripture:  John 21:1-19
Preached:  April 7, 2013

Have you ever thought about what you say YES to in life, in relationships, to God???

Have you ever said yes to someone to keep them from asking you again???

What does your YES look like when it’s not cloaked behind a veil of guilt and shoulds, when it’s not expected from you, when your YES is simply your gift to life, to God?

You all said YES to being in worship today – even though the big celebration of Easter is over, and we have been plunged back into the throes of winter.  That’s what I call Spiritual Maturity!!!

For the past 2 1/2 months we have been on a journey using 12 Simple Words as spiritual practices in forming a life with God.  Today we come to the difficult word of YES.  Easy to say, difficult to truly put into practice.  And I guess that is why spiritual disciplines are more often called PRACTICES.

What is an authentic YES, and what does an authentic YES look like?

Today’s passage from the Gospel of John invites us into Peter’s world after the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus.

We don’t know how much time has passed since Jesus appeared to the disciples in the upper room, but here in ch. 21 we see Peter and other disciples back on the familiar waters – fishing all night long, without any luck, until a stranger tells them to try the other side.  Of course the stranger just happens to be Jesus, and of course when they move the nets to the other side, they come up with a haul of fish.

When Peter gets to shore, Jesus is stirring up a charcoal fire.  Peter remembers another charcoal fire. It was the night Jesus was taken into custody.  And Peter was in the court yard of Caiaphas, the high priest.

“Now the slaves and police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were warming themselves in the courtyard of the high priest. Peter also was with them warming himself.” (Jn 18:18) The maid servant says to him, “You were with him.” “No, you’ve got the wrong man, it wasn’t me.”  “Surely you were with him. You are a follower.”   “No, I’m not the one.” It was beside that fire that Peter denied knowing Jesus three times. A charcoal fire would be, for Peter, a symbol of denial and shame.

Finally Jesus speaks to Peter, “Peter, do you love me?”  Peter looks at the sand between his feet, pained by the question, and answers,  “Ah, Jesus, Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”  “Feed my sheep.”  And then again. “Peter, do you love me.” “Yes, Jesus, Yes Lord, you know I love you.” And then again.  Each time Peter answers with all the sincerity he can muster, anguish evident in his voice.  “Yes, you know I love you.”

Peter had already told him once, what more did Jesus want? And each time Jesus follows his response with a simple command: “Feed my lambs. Tend my sheep. Feed my sheep.” 3 times Peter has denied Jesus around a charcoal fire. 3 times Jesus invites him deeper into discipleship, around a charcoal fire using words of nurture & hospitality.

Jesus is wanting a commitment from Jesus. Jesus must know that Peter loves him, but Peter needed to say it, he needed to voice it.  Ever experience that where either you needed to say it or someone needed to hear you say it?  Dialogue between Golde & Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof:

God says  – follow me deeper down, deeper in

When our heart says YES to God, we enter the next spiritual practice –
of consecration, commitment,  surrender, submission

Prayer is not primarily saying word or thinking thoughts.  It is, rather, a stance, a way of being present.  Living in awareness of God’s Presence.  Of saying YES to God!

A life that whispers yes to what has been, to what is, and to what is to come.
Dag Hammerskjold:  “For all that has been – Thanks! To all that shall be  — Yes!”

The purpose of the spiritual life is not only to connect us more deeply to God; it is also to connect us more deeply to neighbor.

God be in my head, and in my understanding:
God be in my eyes, and in my looking:
God be in my mouth, and in my speaking:
God be in my heart, and in my thinking:
God be at my end, and in my departing
– 15th c. french book of hours