Simon Peter said to them, “I’m going fishing.” They said to him: “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but caught nothing. Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. He said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish…When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore full of large fish…and though there were so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”…Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. John 21:1-14
Such familiar words: “Come and have breakfast.” We have said these words or heard them from others many times. This can be an invitation, a command, or both. Jesus knew the disciples were hungry after fishing all night, so he offered them bread and fish and a beach picnic. Jesus enjoyed eating with friends and the marginalized. He did it throughout his ministry and, even after the resurrection food became the means of recognition. Once again Jesus used food to remind the disciples that he was risen and with them even in the mundane activities of work and eating.
To eat together is to be in community. To eat together is to “meet at the level of our most basic need.” To eat together is to relax, to share in conversation, and to “be with each other.” To eat together is to offer and receive hospitality. Remember that food for the body and food for the soul are linked together. Jesus, as the Bread of Life, fed the soul, but he also liked to eat with others.
We may not be able to experience a picnic as did the disciples, but Jesus invites all of us to his table to partake of bread and wine, reminding us of the presence of the risen Christ. We come to his table so that “we may walk in newness of life, may grow into his likeness, and may evermore dwell in him, and he in us.” In communing together, we are remembering Christ’s death and resurrection and also recommitting ourselves to God’s new creation.
“Jesus, dear expected Guest,
thou art bidden to the feast;
for thyself our hearts prepare;
come, and sit, and banquet there.”
Charles Wesley, 1740
Joyce D. Sohl has been Laywoman-in-Residence since 2009 as a full-time volunteer. She retired as CEO of United Methodist Women in 2004. She is the author of 4 books, a teacher, retreat leader, writer and non-professional musician. Here at the Center her work is in the area of Spirituality & the Arts with such programs as Tuesdays in the Chapel, Vespers & All That Jazz, Poet’s Corner, quarterly retreats, and art exhibits.