"Simon Peter said to them, 'I am going fishing.' They said to him, 'We will go with you.' They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing." - John 21: 3
When my Grandma Kearney died, my sisters and I went to the movies to escape the pain of being in her house. We knew the film would be bad when we bought the tickets. It was just something to do, a way to be together.
I don't think the disciples are planning to catch anything on their midnight fishing trip. I hear a sigh in Peter's words, "I'm going fishing," a wistfulness in his friends' reply, "We'll go with you." What else can they do?
Maybe I'm supposed to believe they are swimming with resurrection joy, but I can't help feeling the reality of their loss. When Jesus comes back, he's not quite himself. As he invites them to join him on the shore, the story says, "None of the disciples dared to ask him, 'Who are you?'"
He doesn't look the same. They're not allowed to touch him. It's Jesus, but not as he was, like the grandmother that visits my dreams occasionally, waking me in tears. Present, but transformed.
Then something clicks for them, and he is once more familiar and dear. The resurrection miracle is performed again in the unexpected fullness found on the starboard side of our boats, in friends sharing breakfast in the gray dawn of grief, in the loaves of raisin bread my cousin bakes, saving one just for me. They were always my favorite, as Grandma knew.
Jesus, reveal yourself to me again, and again, and again. Surprise me with resurrection at breakfast!
Vince Amlin is Associate Minister at the United Church of Gainesville, Gainesville, Florida.