After a week's absence, the update is back! I'm betting you're so excited you've dropped everything to read it. Today in the Church Calendar we observe something quite interesting "The Feast of the Confession of Saint Peter the Apostle." I find it interesting in several ways. It's one of the only times we mark a major milestone based simply on what a human follower of Jesus said. We note as well that what is said belies the title. In popular understanding, a "confession" is someone copping to something they did wrong, criminally or otherwise but as Christians we talk about "confessing our faith." This usage comes from the event in question. In answer to Jesus' question "Who do people say that I am?" his disciples answered with the names Elijah, John the Baptist, Jeremiah et al. It's interesting that people could only come up with a name that was in the past (John the Baptist had recently been killed). This says something about our ability to "imagine the new."
When Jesus follows up with "But who do you say that I am?" Peter pipes up "You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God." Jesus affirms his answer as a revelation of "my Father." This is why we celebrate this event during the Epiphany season, it's another "light bulb moment!" But then Jesus goes further and says, "You are Peter, and this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven..." Peter's identity is affirmed as he imagines God's new thing. Whenever creatively engage with God we come to fresh understandings about who we are and what we're to be about.
Roman Catholics and the rest of the Church differ in their interpretation of "the rock" which is a pun on Peter's name. Will Christ build his Church on Peter (as the proto-pope) or is "the rock" Peter's understanding of who Jesus is? I think it's the latter, especially when one considers that Paul is the one who takes this understanding out to the wider world and starts small house churches all over the Roman Empire. The formal role of the Pope was only codified centuries later.
In a day and age when Christians thoughtlessly "confess Jesus as Christ/Messiah" it behooves us to ask "what does it mean?" Certainly, it doesn't mean "believe in Jesus and you'll go to heaven," that understanding would have seemed absurd when Peter said it. It almost certainly has to do with the great hope Israel had that "Jesus would set things right in the world and that anyone who 'understood' who he was would align themselves with his Mission." That is still our Confession today. As we go into 2023 it has never been more urgent but also never more wonderful to live into God's New Life!
Friday, Jan 27th, 10 am -- The Healing Eucharist with Circles of Grace returns!
Saturday, Jan 28th, 12 pm -- a goodbye lunch for Fr. Allen in the Church Hall. Please connect with Irene Tisdale or People's Warden, Jan Guretzki for more information.
Sunday, February 12th -- Fr. Allen's last Sunday
Sunday, February 19th -- The Annual Meeting. If you are submitting a report please do so by the end of January.
The Bishop, the Archdeacons and the Wardens are actively planning for the next phase of ordained ministry at St. Thomas. Things are unfolding as they should and the future is bright for this wonderful parish!
Serving with you,
Fr. Allen Doerksen