Field of Dreams: if you build it, they will come!

Ss. Peter and Paul
July 1, 2013, 9:05 am
Filed under: Sermons

The gist of a sermon preached (with extempore elaboration) at All Hallows, Easton, 30th June 2013

peter&paulLast Sunday we remembered John the Baptist, the one who was called to prepare God’s People for the immediate appearance of the Messiah. Today we remember two men called by Jesus Christ, the Messiah himself, to bring his message to all the world.

Peter and Paul were real human beings, with faults and failings- and virtues- just like each one of us. If we think about their lives, we can learn how we too can be better disciples of Jesus. Take Peter: Peter, the young fisherman, the first to recognise Jesus as the promised Messiah – generous and impulsive, but tending to panic in a crisis. Peter, who at the moment of trial denied that he even knew Jesus: not much like the “Rock” that Jesus called him. Peter, forgiven and restored, told to tend and feed the Lord’s flock. What carried Peter through was the love he had for the Lord, the trust he had in the Lord. Because he recognised his own weakness, he relied on the strength the Lord could give him. We can all relate to that.

Paul was also quite a fiery character. An angry young man, the persecutor of those he thought were preaching a false messiah to Israel; then completely turned round by the Messiah, and sent out to be the Apostle of the nations. But once he had become convinced of Jesus being Messiah, nothing would stop him speaking out about it, whatever the cost. He even rebuked Peter on one occasion when he thought Peter was in the wrong.

It’s easy to forget that the Peter and Paul we tend to think of, Peter as he was in today’s Gospel, Paul at his conversion outside Damascus, were young men- young hotheads, indeed- probably in their mid twenties. Peter is usually pictured in Christian art as a middle-aged man with curly grey hair and beard; maybe that is how he looked thirty years on, when he was martyred at Rome. Paul we do actually follow getting older- if his conversion took place when he was in his twenties, his missionary work recounted in the Acts of the Apostles must have been from his thirties into his late fifties and beyond. In today’s Epistle we hear the older Paul writing to Timothy and summing up his life: I have run my race, I have kept the faith.

Both Peter and Paul were flawed characters. The point is, that they were chosen by our Lord to do a certain work, and he gave them the strength and the ability to do it. The Apostles were very aware of their own weaknesses. That is why they put their trust in Christ rather than in their own abilities.

We all need to have a willingness to admit our own weaknesses, and even sometimes our stubborn refusal to listen to the Lord; and then we need to forget ourselves, and focus on our Lord himself, his teaching and his example. Then we can all be like Peter, rocks on whom others can depend; we can all be like Paul, ambassadors of Jesus Christ, bearing witness to him in a world that does not want to accept him.


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