It’s hard to say, “Good bye!” No matter how long much you try to prepare yourself for that moment when a beloved friend moves away, a co-worker leaves for another company, or pastor or favorite teacher retires, it’s just difficult to do.
Such was the challenge Jesus faced when he appeared to his unsuspecting disciples on the seashore of Lake Galilee. It was soon after his resurrection and his disciples had a frustrating night fishing ending with empty nets. Directing them from shore as to where they could put their nets down one last time, the disciples soon realized when their nets were suddenly filled with fish, that it was the Lord himself standing before them.
He had come to say “Good bye.” But before he did, he had some unfinished business. Centering his attention on Peter, he asked him three times: “Do you love me?” to which Peter replied: “Yes Lord, you know I love you.” At each of Peter’s responses, Jesus tells him simply: “Feed my lambs.” And it is with these simple words that Jesus forgives and commissions Peter and the rest of the disciples for the task ahead after he was gone: to love his many followers with more than just words of love. It was a bright moment filled with promise and hope for the future.
As we gather this weekend to say: “Good bye” to Pastor Mark and Jeannie, perhaps we need to return to that seashore and hear Jesus’ challenge to love with more than words. And, as we do, may we be filled with a new sense of God’s hope and promise that even in our times of “Good bye,” Jesus still wants us to love with more than words