Aug 24 – “But who do you say that I am?”

Title:Aug 24 – “But who do you say that I am?”

 Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014  (full size gallery)

Catherine is on vacation for this week and next. Despite its size, our congregation is flexible and  has the ability to fill in for one another. Eunice was the officiant and read Catherine’s sermon. She did well and kept the service moving. She and Roger returned earlier in the week from the Moravian clothing distribution in Staten Island which helped over 1,000.

Jennifer was the lector today and it was good to see TC in attendance with here. Helmut played the organ – next week he is the preacher. 

The day before Sunday was Justin and Karen’s wedding. The flowers on altar with roses were left as were decorative bouquets on the side of the pews. There were about a 100 at the wedding.  Numerous arrangements were in the Parish house.

It was partly cloudy Sunday with soothing wind, billowing clouds and sparkling river. A great day for a walk. We had 25 in attendance.

The sermon and the Gospel centered around the Apostle Peter. Peter  was given the keys to the kingdom not to prevent people from getting in but for leading people to the kingdom.  He did fulfill this by after Pentecost risking his life to "do the Lord’s work, speaking boldly of his belief in Jesus. It was also Peter, the Rock, whose strength and courage helped the young Church in its questions about the mission beyond the Jewish community. Opposed at first to the baptism of Gentiles, Peter had the humility to admit a change of heart, and to baptize the Roman centurion Cornelius and his household.”   

He was right today proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah "son of the living God."  But he was the one who tried to convince Christ not to go to Jerusalem and in the last denied Christ three times.  You could argue that Peter was typical of the deposits who could not get it right.

The sermon concluded with these words :

First of all, to get some clarity for ourselves about who Jesus really is. And if we truly believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the son of the living God, the next challenge is to get off the fence and to follow him.

"Having Peter as a companion can help us when we get stuck on the fence, or when we, so tossed about by “the changes and the chances of this life,” as a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer puts it, that we’re anything but strong rocks as we too struggle with ourselves, we too deny God, we too speak and act too rashly and with too little deliberation and with too much haste, denying Jesus in the process. "

"It’s then, when we’re trying to run away from whatever challenging situation is staring us in the face, that we can remember Peter, turn around, and head back into the fray, and pray that the Holy Spirit will transform us, in whatever situation we find ourselves, to be solid rock,“people who show forth God’s love, not only with our lips, but in our lives, and by giving up ourselves To God’s service.”  

We have an abundance of pears in the back of the church, thanks probably to Rev. Ware’s wife who planted trees around the Parish House. At the conclusion of the service the Wisdom were picking pears for a delicious pear dish later today.

An analysis of this week’s scriptures from Canon Lancy Ousley, Diocese of Olympia

"Our stewardship answers the question of whom we say Jesus is. It reflects whether we have conformed to this world or are being transformed by the renewing of our minds by the Spirit of God. Our stewardship is an outward sign of what we believe. This either can reflect the inward spiritual grace of God’s abundance we have embraced in faith, or the incarcerating pursuit of material accumulation we have employed to keep appearances. Our readings this week can launch us into these themes of conformity and transformation providing a foundation for a serious conversation about stewardship formation.

"The reading option from Isaiah this week simply outlines the life of living in right relationship with God and others. The poetry of the verses explains the divine source of all life and the freedom that comes in recognizing God’s limitless love and reflecting that love to God and all people in our own lives. Faithful stewardship is a reflection of living in this relationship understanding one’s own value and a worthiness of love, as well as others’. Giving of one’s self and resources for the good of all helping to establish God’s kingdom in the world expresses who God is in our lives and ultimately, what we believe about ourselves.

"Paul’s words to the Romans reflect this same theology of self giving stewardship in response to the graces given us by God. He counters the dominant culture of materialistic measurement of the value of life with the transformational faith in God through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul explains, much like he does to the Corinthians (cf. 1 Cor. 12), that each of us have gifts and each person is needed equally by the whole. He encourages us away from an hierarchical humanity into an egalitarian life of unity recognizing the divinely created nature of the other. We are called in faith to be good stewards of our selves and our gifts, as well as good stewards of others and their gifts. Paul states plainly that this is our spiritual expression of our relationship with God and the world (Romans 12:1).

"Jesus posits the question to his disciples, "But who do you say that I am?" after he has asked what others are saying about whom he is. His question is posed not only to allow them to articulate their faith, but also to present an opportunity for them to step away from the cultural articulation of who Jesus is in the world. Peter’s answer, "You are the Messiah, the son of the living God," elicits Jesus’ response that this has been revealed to him by God. In other words, this is a spirit-filled answer to Jesus’ question. Peter is far from perfect, but he is engaged in the spiritual journey of transformation that Paul later described in our reading from Romans this week. Peter’s ability to answer the question in faith counter to the popular opinion shows that he has begun to move away from "conforming to this world" in spite of whatever continued struggles we see in him after his proclamation of Jesus as the Christ. It is this type of faith, one willing to move counter to popular opinion and distorted cultural values, that is empowered to live sacramentally as stewards for God’s kingdom in the world. This is the rock upon which Jesus has built his Church. The preservation of which comes through answering his question of his disciples, "But who do you say I am?" with our lives as stewards for the sake of God’s kingdom come. Jesus asks us, "But who do you say I am?" How do you answer his question with your stewardship?

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