I'm writing this in the light of Easter, and after spending some time in reflection on the 21st Chapter of John. It's an interesting chapter, with the challenging questions and request of, 'Do you love me?' and 'Follow me.' However, the part I want to look at is Peter jumping into the water.
This is another story of Peter seeing Jesus and jumping out of a boat. The first time, he walked on water for a bit (until he realized what he was doing), this time he swam to shore. The part that I've always wondered about is that, depending on the translation, Peter is naked or lightly clothed, puts on his clothes and then jumps into the water.
It makes no sense. Why would you get dressed to go swimming? Normally, we do the opposite. If we have clothes on, we remove at least some of them before we jump in; but not Peter. What's going on?
For many people in the church, regardless of the denomination, there is tendency to treat a declaration of faith, or confirmation, and sometimes even baptism itself as an end point. Go to a tent revival and people's new found faith is celebrated. Many churches and pastors mark with pride the number of baptisms they have. And we all know how confirmation has become a rite of passage in many churches.
Peter jumped in with his clothes on. He somehow knew that that first step to come to Jesus, to follow him, to seek after him was only the beginning. If he had jumped in naked, and then Jesus said, 'Let's go to Jerusalem,' Peter would not have been ready. He would have asked for more time, he would have made excuses. But, he jumped in with his clothes on, he was now ready for almost anything Jesus asked of him. His faith act was not the end point, it was the beginning.
We at Zion UCC have made many faith declarations, as individuals and as a church. Those faith declarations cannot be an end point, they must be a beginning. Now that we know who we are, now that we have declared our vision and mission, where do we go from here? Are we dressed and ready for what God calls us to, or are we standing on the beach naked making excuses?
Jesus called Peter to follow him, and he was ready. Are we?
With the Greatest of Hope!