Open doors – a reflection by the Rev Anne Sardeson

In the weeks after Easter Day we continue to reflect on the amazing transformational work of God that the Easter story speaks. This transformational work isn’t limited to the resurrection, but all the resurrection speak of a particular aspect of God transformation: God’s presence being made known when people are frightened or confused. For God always comes to us in such times with peace and hope, reminding us that we can trust the one who faithful.

Our story for this week is about Jesus sharing breakfast on the beach with some of his closest followers after they have been out fishing all night. The story starts with Peter, who had promised he would be with Jesus to the end, but actually denied knowing Jesus when Jesus was arrested.

I imagine that Peter is unable to forgive himself for what he did and imagines that Jesus has lost faith in him, so he decides to go back to his old life of fishing, so he gets into his boat and the others come with him. However, he can’t even catch any fish that night! I imagine he felt completely wretched. Then a stranger appears on the beach and tells them to cast their net on the other side of the boat and when they do, the net is filled so full of fish that they struggle to haul it in from the water.

Then they realise who the stranger is: the risen Christ! Their eyes are opened to God’s transformational power by an abundance of fish, and they sit down and have breakfast together on the beach.

This week, through the abundance of Facebook, I discovered the origins of the famous saying in the image. I did not realise that Alexander Graham Bell said this. As a scientist and inventor, he was obviously used to disappointment and failure. Nor did I realise that the full quote is “when one door closes, another one opens, but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door we do not see the ones which open for us.” In my mind this linked with the story of breakfast on the beach.

I don’t think for one moment that God comes to us in our most fearful times and says move on and stop looking at what was. But I do think God wants us to see what is still possible. For Peter, everything had gone wrong – all the doors had closed. After the terror and sadness and failure and confusion of the last few days, he can only look back at what once was.

But the risen Christ comes and opens another door of possibility, and Peter dares to notice it. After breakfast Jesus makes sure that Peter knows, without a doubt, that he is forgiven and that he does still believe in Peter’s his ability to continue the work that Jesus has started: after everything that has happened, Peter needs to hear and embrace what is still possible with God.

The bible is full of stories like this: of lives turned around by people noticing what God is doing – what doors God is opening – when they thought everything was lost. It is full of hope and trust being renewed when God comes and says I still love you and trust you to follow me and be my people. Often, to know this truth, lives need transformed by learning to love, and this cannot always happen until something external loves that.

This is the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is Peter on the beach with the risen Christ. Peter discovers he can love, but only when he realises that he is still loved by God. And this is us, throughout our lives: seeing what doors God is opening and knowing the truth of God’s constant and faithful love for us, calling us again and again to follow.

I pray this week that you will know the depth of God’s love for you. If you want to talk about anything here or anything at all, please get in touch and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Rev Anne.

Come sing of our God who is always before us:
calling and guiding us through the unknown.
Come sing of our God who is always before us:
harvesting fruit from the seeds long past sown.

Come sing of our God, who is always behind us:
keeping a past we will never forget.
Come sing of our God who is always behind us:
holding with care all that we might regret.

Come sing of our God who is always beside us:
Source of our hope in the plans that we make.
Come sing of our God who is always beside us:
Ground of our being: The Road that we take!

Come sing of our God who is always around us:
On distant horizon, in quiet whispered word.
Come sing of our God who is always around us:
Lifting our lives with a song not yet heard.

© Anne Sardeson

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