It was the news we were all waiting for. We have been struggling for nearly three months
with lack of human contact. First in May, people in England were being encouraged to take
unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise with one other person. Then we could meet with up
to six others in gardens and local parks for outdoor picnics and barbecues – providing social
distancing guidelines were followed.
Wow, light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Contact with real people at last. But it had to be
severely limited. Keep outside; if you visit a friend’s home stay in the garden; if someone has
‘to go’ be careful about using the toilet; wipe all surfaces; wash hands for 20 seconds. If you
have a barbecue, remember to wash or sanitise your hands before passing things from one
to another. Still concern, fear, uncertainty – will there be a second spike? It is all a far cry
from the heady summer days of previous years.
It made me think of another barbeque. This one was held early one morning on a beach in
Galilee. It was also after a very dark and dangerous time. That was nearly 2000 years ago.
Jesus had been crucified and his followers’ hopes were shattered. His disciples went back to
what some of them knew best – fishing. The group included Thomas, Nathanael, James,
John and the brash, bold Simon Peter. These “experts” went out all night but caught
nothing. A stranger on the shore sent them back to try again – this time they returned with
a full net of fish.
As they approached the shore, the barbeque was well lit; there was already fish and bread cooking. “Bring more fish.” said the stranger. Then they
recognised it was Jesus. What joy, what excitement! The darkness was lifting; the catch of fish; the reunion with their Master. Jesus had died but was, indeed, risen. As Jesus served
them, it gave them hope.
As you read on in the story (in Acts), you will see that they faced many challenges. So too
will we. But this small group of disciples had hope in a God who cared for them. They
received the Holy Spirit and were empowered to change the course of history.
Are we prepared to encounter Jesus too? To put our hope in a God who cares. Recently on
the radio I heard Marcelo Gleiser, a Brazilian physicist and 2019 Templeton Prize-winner. As
he discussed attempts to find a vaccine for COVID-19, he said “one thing that is more infectious than coronovirus is HOPE."
Where do we place our hope?