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The Disciples Had Breakfast with Him - Second Sunday After Easter - John 21

A worship service based on John 21 for the second Sunday after Easter. Jesus' post-resurrection appearances offer the disciples a renewed call to follow and serve him.

Theme of the Service

This is the second Sunday after Easter and so our focus on the importance of the resurrection of Christ continues. The passage for today will present one of the post-resurrection appearances. This event not only verifies Jesus' actual bodily resurrection, but offers the disciples a renewed call to follow and serve him.


Prelude: "Alleluia! Jesus Is Risen," Powell [organ]; David [piano]

The Call to Worship

*Opening Litany:
Mighty God, by your power you raised your Son, our Lord Jesus, from death;
by his glorious resurrection, you proved him victor over death;
and you assured all of us, who acknowledge him as Savior and Lord, that we do not need to
fear death.
With grateful hearts we welcome another Eastertide Sunday,
joyously repeating the ancient Christian greeting: "Christ is risen!"
"He is risen indeed!"

*Song: "Alleluia! Jesus Is Risen!" SNC 150

*Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting:

Congregation of Jesus Christ, in whom are you trusting?
Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.
Grace, mercy and peace to you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

*The Passing of the Peace

*Anthem: "Hallelujah, Christ Is Risen," Pethel


The Call to Confession

Our Prayer of Confession:
Almighty God, you have accepted our Lord's sacrifice for our salvation.
By your power you have raised him from the dead,
you have clothed him again with flesh
so that his disciples might recognize him.

We humbly confess that,
while we know the story and believe it,
it often has made too little difference in our lives,
and at times we have been silent when we should have spoken of it.

Forgive us, we pray, of these sins.
Enable us today to reflect more deeply on the sacred story,
that our obedience may increased
that our service may be more joyful,
and our testimony may be more courageous.

Hear us in the name of our risen Savior. Amen.

The Assurance of Pardon: John 20:19

Response of Praise: "Oh, How Good Is Christ the Lord" PsH 401, SFL 177

God's Call to Resurrection Living:
We really are people who have the privilege of living a new resurrection life with Christ.
Now we are really alive!
Christ was raised from the dead, and we have been brought from death to life.
We must set our hearts on this and always see ourselves from this perspective.
Our old life is dead. Our new life is found in Jesus Christ.
Though invisible to others, this new life is our real life.
There are, however, still some things within us which are more a mark of our old life than
of our new, real life.
These are the things that come between us and God; things that stifle this new

Still rising out of the way of death to tempt us are impurity, greed, evil desires, hostility,
harmful words and deceit. These are evil traps that can destroy us and others close to us.
We must, by God's grace and power at work within us, demolish these demons
of our lives.

And we must do so again and again, for they die hard, these enemies of our new life.
We must grow in faith, allowing the Spirit of God to captivate our thinking, our
feeling, and our actions, until everything is brought under the influence of his

(paraphrased from Colossians 3)

*Song: "Christ Is Risen" SNC 147

The Children's Moment

Song: "This Is the Day" PsH 241, SFL 175, TWC 801


The Pastoral Prayer

The Offertory: "Praise the Savior Now and Ever," Haan [organ]

The Offertory Prayer


*Song: "Praise the Savior Now and Ever" PsH 400, TH 243

The Prayer for Illumination:
O Spirit of God, we ask that you come down now to illumine our minds and hearts
while we hear and speak your Word. We cannot understand, and cannot obey,
unless you give us light and lead us in your light. Come and lead us in the name
of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Reading of Scripture: John 21:1-14
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Sermon: The Disciples Had Breakfast with Him

The Prayer of Application


*Song: "How Great Is the Love of the Father" PsH 231

*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!

*A Moment of Meditation

Postlude: "Processional in C," Hopson

* you are invited to stand

Sermon Notes:

  1. The setting of this sermon requires that we remember there were approximately a dozen post-resurrection appearance of Christ. This one occurs at least a week after Easter along the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Seven of the disciples were present. Later this day Jesus will confront and reinstate Peter.
  2. Several points of interpretation beg for attention in this passage. First is Peter's suggestion that they go fishing (John 21:3). Was this just to pass the time and see what events would occur while they were waiting? Was it an expression of disillusionment and an attempt to return to their former vocation? Was Peter feeling a deep sense of failure because of his denials and trying to avoid Jesus? Or was it an attempt to seek some kind of familiarity in their daily schedule because they felt overwhelmed by the degree of change in all that was happening? Use sanctified imagination and attempt to get inside the minds and hearts of the disciples as this day unfolds.
  3. The second point of interpretation involves Jesus' invitation to continue fishing, and to change the location of their nets (John 20:4-6). Did they doubt the wisdom of his advice to cast the nets on the other side? Did they do so reluctantly? Did they remember what had happened earlier in his ministry (see Luke 5:1-11)? How long did it take them to realize that this was an event through which Jesus was continuing the process of self-revelation? The stage was now set for Jesus to reveal that he was present in all the power of God and that their ministry would continue!
  4. The story moves into a very touching scene of a fish breakfast together. The disciples recognized it was Jesus; they experienced a huge relief at that conviction; and they must have experienced surprise at his invitation to have breakfast.
  5. But there is more here. Jesus gives additional proof of his resurrection. He provides more information about the actual body with which he was raised—able to eat a fish breakfast! But his real intent was to erase their disillusionment and confusion, to prepare them for resuming their ministry. Therefore Jesus soon moved to the confrontation with Peter to reinstate him. The risen Christ has renewing power with a new and more powerful mandate for his followers!

Music Notes:

Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations:
PH The Presbyterian Hymnal (Presbyterian Church USA; Westminster/John Knox Press)
PsH The Psalter Hymnal (Christian Reformed Church; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
RL Rejoice in the Lord (Reformed Church in America; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
RN Renew! (Hope Publishing Company)
SFL Songs for LiFE (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
SNC Sing! A New Creation (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Christian Reformed Church, Reformed Church in America; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
TH Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America; Great Commission Publications)
TWC The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
WOV With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)

Music Level Key: E = Easy, M = Medium, D = Difficult

  1. The music suggestions for the prelude are based on the hymn tune earth and all stars, which is also sometimes referred to as dexter. This new classic-style hymn is found in Sing! A New Creation. Most music on the tune will be titled under "Earth and All Stars." The organ piece is a set of variations by Robert J. Powell found in Sing a New Song, published by Augsburg 11-10766 [1996] (E-M). While Powell pairs each variation to a particular verse of the text of "Earth and All Stars," many of the variations convey a spirit that is compatible with this Easter text as well. The piano transcription by Anne Marie David is found in Here I Am, Lord, published by Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7566-5 [2002] (E-M).
  2. Alternative harmonizations for the opening hymn can be found in John Eggert's collection Creative Hymn Accompaniments for Organ, vol. 2, published by CPH 97-6851 [2000] and by Anne Krentz Organ in Let It Rip! At the Piano, published by Augsburg 11-11045 [2000].
  3. The SATB anthem "Hallelujah, Christ Is Risen" by Stan Pethel is published by Coronet Press 392-4162 [1990] (E-M).
  4. The offertory music on the hymn tune UPP, MIN TUNGA is found in "Four Hymns of Rejoicing" an organ collection by Raymond H. Haan, published by Morningstar MSM-10-518 [1998] (E-M).
  5. The postlude "Processional in C" by Hal H. Hopson is published by Hope 345 [1992] (E-M). This piece can be played on the organ alone, but it also includes an instrumental part for B-flat treble instrument—preferably trumpet.

Liturgy Notes:

  1. During the call to worship include the awareness that we are still in the season of Easter and the resurrection. Let worship begin with Easter joy.
  2. The passing of the peace is a very meaningful part of our worship in Eastertide. See the comments of last week (worship service for April 18, 2004) to help distinguish between "Passing the Peace" and "Greeting each other."
  3. The service of confession includes the same prayer of confession that was included last week (see the worship service for April 18, 2004). The repeat of such a prayer can reinforce its impact. We confess that the resurrection of Christ has too little power in our lives, and receive God's call to new resurrection living. The words of this call are a free paraphrase from Colossians 3.
  4. The children's moment, as in previous weeks, should continue to focus on the Christ who came out of the tomb. Children can identify well with a retelling of the story of the Scripture passage. They may not be able to imagine having fish for breakfast (!), but they should be able to picture a picnic breakfast with someone you were afraid was dead and would never come back to you. Help them to feel the disciples' joy.
  5. The pastoral prayer, sometimes called the "prayers of the people," could include intercession for people who are confused and disillusioned, trying to find their faith again after an experience in life that smashed their hopes and made them doubt God. The certainty of the resurrection gave new hope to the disciples, and can do the same for all of us.


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