Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest's house, and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. Luke 22:54-62
When we are alone, afraid or overwhelmed, denial can be our safest response. Peter, the strong, fearless fisherman had watched his friend's arrest and torture. We have seen things in the past week that make us frightened and overwhelm us. We have witnessed a quiet community become a scene of terror and violence. We have felt fear for all our children as they go off to school. We have all wondered where God is, in the midst of such devastation.
It can be hard to hear the story of the crucifixion as we prepare for Christmas. I keep wanting to find another text to use for my morning prayers. I want to deny the misery and pain. Like Peter,we can be overwhelmed by the events in our own lives. Such joy and companionship, an extraordinary ministry and journey, day after day with an amazing teacher - and it all comes crashing down in a violent moment in the garden. Peter is in shock and his response is denial and self protection. It is what we all do. And God invites us to move beyond our states of shock and denial. Our Advent journey is one of facing the whole of life with great expectation - with hope and desire for the presence of God. And God promises to be with us, helping us from denial and self-loathing, from fear and anguish to love and joy in the presence of Emmanuel, God with us.
Today I ask God to help me face those things which are very difficult. May we turn and see our world as it is, and ask God to give us the strength to do what we can on our little corners. May we be honest and humble, willing to face the worst of the human condition, so that we might also witness the best that God has to offer. May we all find ways, in the midst of our grief and pain, to welcome the one who is life, light and truth.