Thursday, March 22, 2012
Affirmation and Denial
And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.
And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Mark 8:28-33
When we were recently visiting with our granddaughter I got a little flack for teaching her to shake her head to mean "no". I confess I did such a thing but it is also inevitable that she will indeed learn to say no faster probably than yes. She has lots of wonderful almost words, she waves and says "hiya" and calls Momma and Dadda regularly. We were sitting quietly the other afternoon and chatting and she smiled at all of us in turn, and somehow seconds later she was atop the coffee table and moving towards all the electronics equipment she so completely craves and is forbidden to mess with. We adults tried to suppress our amazed laughter as we knew she pulled a fast one on the whole group. As humans, we want what is trouble for us, we can affirm the truth and love in our lives in one breath, and in the next due to fear and anger deny it. Love is still there and God knows, we're human.
Thank God for Peter, and thank God it is Peter on whom the church was founded. Peter, so raw and human, so yes and no, so fickle and ever changing. So much like you and me. In seminary, people tried to show how pious and faithful they were, and how humble and honest they would always be - what great servants of God they were planning to be. And yet, we were all so very human, so yes and no, so pious and so angry, jealous and raging. So damn human. And on the rock in which the church was founded we find the same crags of fickle humanity, affirmation and denial, mistakes, bloated egos and out right fear. And God loves us as we are, human with all our yeses and nos, our affirmations and denials.
May we who follow and try to be faithful today, remember that we can be no greater than our founder - not Jesus but Peter. We can only be human, and God only divine. And as we are loved and forgiven may we love and forgive those who come our way today. May we reach out to the angry and the hurt, the lonely and the terrified, the simple and the plotting, knowing that just like us, they are broken and human - and thoroughly loved by God.