Tuesday, August 30, 2011
And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean.” And he went out into the gateway1 and the rooster crowed. And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept. Mark 14:66-72
Yesterday was a day of return and relief, a day of joy and a few tears. We were finally back home late in the day, a day not without challenges of its own. The trip was hard, traffic and road closures delaying and rerouting all the way back. We were relieved when the only damage were fallen branches and some water in the basement. There is some cleanup but no major work ahead. We prepared for the worst and prayed for the best and we felt blessed, and exhausted. Tears came, as a body, which had been holding back all the anxiety and apprehension for days, could finally relax a bit. Tears come, invited or uninvited, when the reality of our circumstances, good or bad, finally take hold within us.
Peter is challenged in the court yard and denies Jesus. He has held his breath as his dear friend was questioned and tortured, and he feared for his own life and his friends. He denied Jesus to protect himself, his friends and his family, to survive for another day. And yet when he was alone, his circumstances caught up with him, his shame and his grief, the choices he didn't want to make. We often feel shame for Peter, not standing up for Jesus, but he was one man trying to get through a perplexing situation. One person with a family, friends and a community relying on him. There was no good way to get through that day, and the tears came. The reality of the situation took hold and he wept, for himself, for Jesus, for his weakness, his life and the circumstances that surrounded him. We know that God would walk with him, and strengthen him, and make him a faithful leader for all times. And God, no matter how exhausted and weepy we are today, will see us through, beyond these circumstances, strengthening us, renewing us and equipping us to lead beyond the broken moments.
Today, as we assess damage and put things back in place, I want to praise God for seeing us through this crisis, and ask God to use us for the good of others, who struggle still. May our weaknesses become our strengths, our failures deepen our compassion, and our tears become the backbone of our resolve to serve.