Bible Study · Church of England · Easter · Felixstowe · Growing in God · Sermon

Fish and Chips Forever!

supersize feediong of the multitudeFish and Chips Forever!

Words for the Third Sunday of Easter  – 18 April 2021 – A cyber sermon from the Vicarage

Text: 41While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ 42They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43and he took it and ate in their presence.  (Luke 24v41-43)

God give you peace my Sisters and Brothers.

Today I am tempted to go out on a theological limb so if I drift into a little bit of heresy please don’t tell the bishop, especially as I have my Ministerial Development Review next week…  On the other hand, as the topic is about Fish and Chips (for which Felixstowe is famous) I hope you will end up agreeing with my unorthodox views…

Have you ever wondered why we have bread and wine at the centre of the Eucharist and not loaves and fishes?  Yes, I know that unleavened bread and wine are at the centre of the Passover Meal but there is enough doubt amongst biblical scholars to question whether the Last Supper was a Passover Meal to ask to have ‘frying tonight’ as part of our Liturgy…[1]

Here is the case for Fish and Chip theology.

Jesus and his disciples were good with loaves and fishes.
Jesus fed 4000 and 5000 people with loaves and fishes.
Jesus called fishermen to become fishers of men.
Jesus helped them catch fish (just as well because they seem to have been somewhat unsuccessful fishermen!)
Jesus used a fish to pay taxes!
Someone counted exactly how many fish the disciples miraculously caught after the Resurrection – 153 of them.
Jesus’ breakfast of choice when He cooks for his disciples is fish, and fried fish at that.
And, when Jesus wants to demonstrate His resurrection (some disciples having decided that wounded hands and side are not proof enough!), Jesus doesn’t ask for bread or wine or lamb but for fish.

Little wonder that one of the early symbols of the church was not a cross but a fish

ichthysWhich just goes to prove three things;

  • Fish and Chips is on the menu at the Heavenly Banquet.
  • God is probably British.
  • If Joseph of Arimathea visited Glastonbury then there is no reason why he shouldn’t have visited Felixstowe as well!

Mind you if that really were the case we would not have to hold another fund raising coffee morning ever again as the gifts from pilgrims would fill the parish coffers to overflowing

Taking today’s text a little more seriously, Jesus eating fish after his resurrection is about more than my predilection for beer battered cod.  By the time Luke wrote his Gospel and its companion volume Acts, Christianity had spread widely and faced challenges from those who wanted its Jewish roots emphasised (Juadaizers), and those who saw in the story of a god walking among humankind parallels to Greek and Roman religions and philosophies (Hellenizers).  When, after the resurrection Jesus is given fish to eat (rather than eat something He has brought with him) He is demonstrating both His humanity – He has hungers like us – and His divinity – He is mortally wounded yet walks among us

Jesus the man is truly one of us and knows our fears and hopes, our hungers and our pain.  Jesus the Christ transcends death and, fulfilling that which was foretold, now offers something new and wonderful to His disciples. 

Thus it is written that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things. (Luke 24v46-48)

The Good News of the Gospel is not only the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – although that by itself should give us cause to worship in awe and fearful wonder.  The Empty Cross and Open Tomb are the dramatic world changing means by which the loving purposes of God are brought to fruition.  The Good News is this and simply this;

         ..repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations

Under the Old Covenant forgiveness was a distant dream.  Yes, forgiveness could be found for the sort of misdemeanour that the Church later called ‘Venial Sins’.  For the faithful Israelite this was well catered for in the Levitical Code with its list of reparations and punishments to restore justice to the community.  But for ‘Mortal Sins’ or as the Old Testament terms them sins committed with a high hand, there could be no reparation or forgiveness and the offender was cut off from the people of Israel and cast out, if lucky with their life intact.[2]

The Good News of God in Christ who lived and worked amongst us.  Who laughed and wept with us.  Who ate and drank with us.  Who lived and died for us is that we can, by grace, turn to walk in the way of Love and find forgiveness.  Or as the apostle Paul puts it; 

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.  (Romans 8v1-4

Romans 8v1-2Such love.
Such generosity.
Such a Saviour.

This is something to spend our lives celebrating by thankful service to those who have not yet heard of God’s generosity.
We, following the footsteps of the disciples as witnesses of these things are called to step out in joy to proclaim His name to all nations.
…and if you happen to enjoy a Fish and Chip Supper while you are doing this Jesus will be smiling on you.

 

[This blog ‘Fish and Chips Forever!’ is copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2021 and may be reproduced without charge on condition that the source is acknowledged]

[1] For a brief look at the arguments for and against the Last Supper being a Passover Meal this article by Shawn Woo is helpful.  https://trinitycambridge.com/lords-supper-passover-meal-1-4/
[2] Sadly the fact that I can talk of ‘Mortal’ and ‘Venial’ sins in the context of the Church suggests that Christians have not always lived out the Good News we profess we believe.

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