Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Jesus Anthology

I haven't posted a God Sighting in quite awhile, but this one may be a little much for my other blog. It may become a sermon one day, but at this stage I'm just getting some musings down so I don't forget them...

This weekend I've had the privilege of hearing Amy Gopp, the Associate Director of Week of Compassion ( speak to a group of pastors and laypeople at our Regional Church's annual School for Congregational Learning. Last night she spoke just to the workshop presenters and other event leadership at a dinner meeting. Her Scripture reading was the last chapter of the Gospel of John. She invited us to hear it as if for the first time (for us preachers, especially, this is a very familiar passage), and see what might jump out at us.

John 21 is a very rich text, including several scenes: the disciples fishing all night and catching nothing, then having someone tell them from the shore to cast their nets on the other side of the boat, whereupon they catch so many fish they can't get the net into the boat; the threefold questioning of Peter by Jesus, "Do you love me?" and threefold instruction of "feed my lambs"/ "tend my sheep"/ "feed my sheep"; Jesus' prediction of Peter's death; and clues as to who the Beloved Disciple and the author of the Gospel might be.

But what leapt out to me was the last verse: "But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written." I've always thought this verse was a bit humorous, but last night something else came to me.

So there's lots more that Jesus did. John leaves the story hanging, almost as much as Mark does in his original ending, which just almost trails off in mid-sentence, with women running from the tomb and saying nothing to anyone. Only Luke (and the longer ending of Mark, which may well be copied from Luke) feels a need to bracket the story with the Ascension. As far as John, Mark, and Matthew are concerned, the story continues. (This oversimplifies the matter a bit; as it turns out, Luke continues the story, too, with Volume 2, which is Acts.)

So I wonder: those "many other things that Jesus did," could they be going on even now? Could Jesus still actually be doing things among us? Could he be acting in and through each of us who call ourselves his disciples? And if so, should we perhaps be talking about that? If you were to write your entry in the Jesus Anthology, the story of what Jesus has done in and through you, what would it say?