Today, we close an amazing week of camp. Campers have changed and grown, and I have too.
Here is the Gospel text (from the Common for Artists and Writers) and my homily from closing worship for campers and their families.
Gospel: John 21:15-17,24-25
“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”
This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true. But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”
Imagine Jesus and Simon Peter, having just eaten a breakfast fit for ShrineMont: French toast, bacon, fresh fruit…you know what I’m talking about! These two were close, tighter than tight having spent time hiking, journeying and boating together, working side by side, talking and laughing, and, the way friends do, sometimes even crying, and consoling each other. This Gospel is like listening to a heart-to-heart feeling check. This particular Gospel gives us a sneak peek into the close conversation of Jesus and Simon Peter, his dear friend and disciple. Yes, the same Simon Peter who tried to walk on water the way our worship team acted out earlier this week. When I listen in to Jesus and Simon Peter, it reminds me of some of the conversations I’ve heard this week. Jesus asks His friend and disciple a question that many of us wonder about our friends, too: “Do you love me, for real?” Simon Peter responds back: “Of course, Jesus…you KNOW that…I love you, and I’ve got your back!” But I don’t think Jesus is giving Simon Peter a friendship test. He asks this question three times, not because he doesn’t believe Simon Peter. This friendship is deep and real. Instead, Jesus is letting his friend know something incredibly important: the most important thing that Simon Peter can do to show his love for Jesus is to share that love with others. Or, in the words of Jesus: “feed my sheep.”
This week, we’ve been forming friendships, connecting with God through our senses, feeding our bodies and our souls, and pausing with intention to consider the lilies. The art that has emerged from this week is spectacular, and I cannot imagine anything more beautiful than taking in the creative expressions that I have watched emerge from each of you, or learning from the depths of love and care shown among counselors and campers as we have grown deeper in relationship with each other, and in relationship with God. Art camp has been a masterpiece, and everyone here has been changed by that artistry. Pause, look around, take it in: consider the lilies in the faces, the expressions, the art that surrounds you.
But, don’t stop there. Jesus’ request to his friend Simon Peter is true for us, too. We have been fed in mind, body, and spirit here on this mountain. I will not go home the same as I was when I came here, and neither will you. You have made new friends, discovered your inner artistry in new forms and expressions, connected with God in new and deeper ways. These are also the ways in which we know Christ, who holds us and enfolds us and shows himself to us through our love for each other, when we take time to stop and look and listen…and even smell and taste…the many ways that God makes God’s self known to us. We are changed and transformed by that love. Like Simon Peter, our friend Jesus who knows that are hearts are filled with love, tells us exactly what we need to do next: Jesus asks us to show the depths of this transforming, inspiring love to all of God’s people…to the whole world around us. Share your stories of art camp. Pray for a friend. Ask someone you care about to do a feeling check with you. Make prayer flags. Give your art to the world. Let the music of Shrinemont….songs and nature…be what resonates in your ears and fills your days with song.
Today’s Gospel ends with a glimpse into that beautiful, transformed world: “there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” The real beauty is that we continue to live out Jesus’ love and teaching by being the eyes, and ears, and hands and feet of Christ in the world. We are the Body of Christ, transformed so that we can transform the world and continue to fill it with stories and actions of Jesus’ love. So go forth, spreading that love wherever you go. Share your art, connect with God, show love…be the lilies of the field that make this world beautiful as the love bestowed on us feeds the world, leaving brushstrokes of beauty wherever we go.