It’s a few days after Resurrection Sunday. Between Easter and Christmas, it’s harder to celebrate that Jesus has risen from the dead. We’re starting “ordinary time” on the church calendar. After Pentecost Sunday, we’ll be right in the thick of the ordinary.
It sounds so mundane. We talk about having an ordinary day, doing the same old tasks like every day before. Whenever a friend travels or starts a new job or does anything out of the ordinary, we praise them. This is good and right, but if you’re anything like me, I tend to be a little jealous. I want newness, too. Having an ordinary day can be so boring.
But there is nothing ordinary about a resurrection. Somehow that shocking info wears off after a few weeks or even a few days.
I am fascinated by what happens between the resurrection and the ascension. Jesus keeps disappearing in the middle of conversations, moving in and out of rooms like a ghost. There is nothing ordinary about that, either.
One of my favorite stories from this time between the resurrection and the ascension is Jesus’ conversation with Peter. It is only mentioned in John’s gospel account, but I believe this one moment had the most impact on Peter and his understanding of God.
Remember back before Jesus was crucified when Peter denied that he even knew Jesus? People kept saying, “Aren’t you one of his disciples? I’ve seen you with Jesus.” Peter said “no” three times. Even worse, Jesus told him this was going to happen. Jesus knows everything. So when Peter denies Jesus over and over again, he is completely overcome with guilt. He runs away and hides.
Even when Peter is told there is an empty tomb, he just goes back home. Then when Jesus appears to the disciples, Peter is quiet. I know Scripture does not say this, but I just imagine Peter shying away from Jesus. I picture him standing in a corner while Thomas is touching Jesus’ wounds. I think that maybe Peter fully believes that Jesus is God, but his shame keeps him from getting too close. He may love Jesus, but he certainly does not feel that he could be loved by Jesus.
So Peter goes back to the ordinary. He goes fishing. After all, this was his livelihood until Jesus came along. With Jesus quite literally popping in and out of Peter’s life, what else would Peter do?
Unknowingly to Peter, Jesus is waiting for him and the others that went on the fishing trip. When Peter and the others pull up to the shore with their full nets, Jesus has breakfast waiting for them.
I imagine Peter sitting at breakfast, still trying to avoid eye contact with Jesus. While all the others are enjoying their breakfast with the Lord, Peter’s stomach was probably in knots. Then, Jesus says, “Simon, do you love me?” I bet Peter hung his head a little as he said, “Yes, you know I love you.” After all, Jesus knows everything. Jesus asks again, and I imagine Peter looking up at Jesus with a bit of confusion. “Yes,” Peter says again, “you know I love you.” Jesus asks a third time, “Do you love me, Peter?” I picture Peter looking Jesus square in the face with complete confidence, “Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.” For each time Peter denied, Jesus forgave. In forgiveness, there is love. Through Christ’s forgiveness, all is made right. Peter does not have to be ashamed. He is fully forgiven and unconditionally loved.
From there, Peter preaches and heals and proclaims the Gospel. Never out of guilt, always out of the knowledge that he is loved.
In this ordinary moment—over a fire with friends and food—Peter is loved. I assure you that Peter had other ordinary moments in his life. I bet he went fishing again the next week.
Somehow, we have forgotten that extraordinary love doesn’t stop the ordinary days from coming. This love enhances the ordinary. The ordinary days and weeks and months are sacred because we are so very loved.
I struggle with being ordinary. I think it has something to do with that youthful mentality of impact: the notion that I am not doing enough until I have the right job with the right house with the right community with a whole lot of influence. Since I do not have those things, I can feel useless and unloved. My ordinary days can easily turn into a mess of tears and self-loathing.
No, dear one, this should not be. The ordinary is enough. You are loved at your worst, your best, and on your average, ordinary day.
When we know that we are loved, our ordinary days and tasks are transformed into life-giving moments. I am free to wash the dishes a little slower, fold the laundry with greater attentiveness, cook with a little more gratitude. I can do all of these mundane things, knowing that while they do not define me, they can also give me life.
I can celebrate that I have beautiful plates to wash. I am blessed with nice clothes to wear and a nose that can smell clean fabric and hands that can feel warmth. My little family has good food to eat, and we do not have to worry too much about finding our next meal. I have my own little sphere of influence here in my home. When I know I am loved, the ordinary becomes purposeful.
Peter did incredible things while proclaiming the Kingdom of God. I am convinced that those extraordinary moments in his life were defined by this one ordinary breakfast on the shore. Peter was loved.
We are loved, and that makes all of life sacred.