When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them - fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread. "Bring some of the fish you've just caught," Jesus said.
John 21:9-10 (New Living Translation)
Graduation! A time of celebration. The ending of one phase of life and the beginning of another. In school, we study and write papers in the process of learning something new. For pastors, the three or four year graduate school is seminary, a school where we learn the acceptable ways to do "church" things and to talk about God. The disciples had their own kind of seminary as they learned from Jesus during three years of traveling with him and listening to his teaching. They learned about the meaning of baptism and Holy Communion, about saying blessings at meals, about priorities and how to handle different crises. But they had not learned how to carry on without their leader. Like many graduates, they found themselves suddenly thrust into a new phase of life, and they felt lost, without direction.
Sometimes graduates, elated with the thrill of graduating, are jarred back to reality when they face making decisions of what to do next. Do they get a job? Go back to school until they figure out what they want to do? Try some new adventure, and hope and pray that it works out for the best?
Following Jesus' Resurrection, the disciples were left no Plan B. So, they did what they knew best - they went fishing. When they were unsuccessful, Jesus appeared on the shore and gave them a miraculous catch. He even made breakfast on the beach, providing fish and bread for his tired friends. Maybe they remembered another miraculous time when he fed thousands with just a few loaves and a couple of fish. It's as if Jesus was saying, "If I can do that with such a small amount, imagine what I can do with 153 fish!" The disciples had indeed graduated and were being sent to do new things in the world - to spread the Good News about Jesus' resurrection to the entire world.
We, too, have graduated into new life if we believe in Jesus. Our mission is the same as that of the disciples - to share the Good News of Jesus' resurrection with others. Like the disciples, we must bring some of our own talents and gifts, recognizing that all gifts are from God. Then, we must accept the mission to go and feed others, helping them, teaching them, and encouraging them in the name of Jesus Christ.
So, what are you going to do next?
The Rev. Jan McCoy is the Associate Pastor of Covington First United Methodist Church in downtown Covington. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.