Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Minister's Minute from the June issue of The Journal of Hope and Joy

I have been studying about Pentecost, because as I am writing this Pentecost Sunday is coming up. There are those who call it the birth of the church, but I am not so sure about that. It is definitely when the church entered its own with the power of the Spirit. However, I tend to think the church started way back when Jesus started calling disciples and forming them. That is what the church is after all, disciples who are called and formed. Peter preached one mean sermon on Pentecost, apparently 3000 people were baptized that day, but he did not start off as some ancient Billy Graham. He started off as a fisherman who fell to his knees and told Jesus, “I need to get away from you, I’m a sinner!” And Jesus said, “You don’t get to get away from me, you’re coming with me, I’m going make you fish for people.” Then Peter got out of his boat and he followed Jesus. Peter made a lot of mistakes along the way. He wanted to build houses for Jesus, Moses and Elijah to stay in when he saw the transfiguration. That was not the point of the transfiguration of course. The point was that God wanted people to listen to Jesus. Peter missed that, because it was not long until Jesus said, “Hey I’m going to be handed over and killed.” Peter did not like hearing that and he took Jesus aside to scold him, “Jesus you will not be killed, do you hear me?! You’re wrong that’s not how this Messiah thing works!” It was then that Jesus had to scold Peter, and I am pretty sure Peter did not like it very much. No one likes to be scolded or to be called Satan. Peter needed it though, he had missed the point and the point was important. I am glad that Jesus took time to correct the disciples, it was one of the ways he went about forming the church. Peter did not like it when Jesus told him, “Hey you’re going to deny me.” “No I’m not,” Peter said. “By the time you hear a rooster crow you will have denied me three times.” “No I’m not Jesus, really there is not a chance!” Of course he did, and he wept when he realized what he did. There must have been a lot of shame in those tears, and probably a lot of self-doubt. Peter could not even stand up for Jesus when confronted. But that did not stop Jesus from taking so much time to build him up through their time together. It did not stop Jesus from renaming him “Rock.” “You’re going to be the rock I build my church upon,” is what Jesus told him. He probably did not feel like much of a rock most of the time, but Jesus kept working with him. We all know death did not stop Jesus. He kicked that stone away and burst out of the tomb and went looking for Peter. “Do you love me?” “Yes,” Peter replied. “Then feed my sheep.” I take that to mean that Jesus was hoping Peter would build people up like Jesus built him up. He did not get it all the first time, but Jesus was not done working with him. Jesus left, but the Spirit showed up and made sure Peter was still built up. Then he preached a sermon and thousands of people believed. That is what happens when Jesus builds someone up and the Spirit takes over. The guy who denied Jesus shared the same death as Jesus because he knew that love is sacrificial, he had to build people up and death was not going to stop him. That is what a church is, a place where people are willing to build others up no matter the cost. A church is a place where disciples are called and are formed and the Holy Spirit does what the Holy Spirit does, and lives are changed through the power of the Gospel of Jesus the Christ. Who knows what Peters are in our midst, people who feel like unworthy sinners that God just cannot wait to build up and use in incredible ways. Jesus spent more time building Peter up than healing or proclaiming the good news… may we learn from his example and build others up too. When we do then God can use us to change the world. Riding the wave of the Holy Spirit, Garrett

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