"When they came to land, they saw a charcoal fire laid there, with fish and bread on it. Jesus spoke to them. ‘Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,’ he said."
The Gospel of John
Try something fun. Go ahead and light up your search engine with "campfire with Jesus."
We all have campfire memories. When I was young--around 11 or 12--I spent my summers on Vashon Island, a wonderful free-range place in Puget Sound. I'm pretty sure we had a beach bonfire every night. Sometimes just a small group, other times a huge fire, with so many people up close in the light or lingering back in the shadows. Beach fires, camp fires, are mesmerizing. They define the word. Staring. Embers. Warmth. Smoke. People flickering in and out of comprehension. Sticks. Sparks. Flames. Some kind of strange longing for light. All this from a fire on a beach, or deep in the mountains.
The story is told that after his death, and after ambiguous and emotional encounters, the "Friends of Jesus" went fishing. This was, it should be noted, mostly a group of grieving men. They could not believe the women who had spoken the impossible. Fishing was possible. It was what they knew how to do, and while they had given up fishing for some new and crazy hope, now that it was over at least they had a fall-back position. Now that he was gone, fishing seemed to make sense.
But as often happens, there is a difference between fishing and catching. They had been out all night, but they were empty. In the simple dawn light a man by the shore, a man standing by a campfire, said, "hey, try the other side of the boat." Fisherfolk rarely take advice from folk standing on shore, but in this story they tossed the nets the other way and filled them with fish. Ecstatic, awestruck, laughing, I'm sure, they made their way to shore. The story says one of them stripped naked and dove in, delighted.
And then they all stood around a fire, ate grilled fish, and warm bread. And the man who built the fire forgave them and redeemed them and sent them out to save the world. It's amazing what we will say and believe and do when we stand around an open flame. The light in the dark gives us new life, or at least new hope.