Monday, 2 July 2018

On this rock I will build my church

St. Peter’s Patronal festival – 1st July

Ezekiel 3: 22-end
1 Peter 2: 19-end
Matthew 16: 13-19

Today we celebrate Saint Peter after whom this church takes its name.
But which Saint Peter? The one who denied Christ three times, the disciple Jesus called Satan for trying, however well intentioned, to shield Jesus from the path laid down by God or Peter who in a flash of insight recognised who Jesus really was when in a flash of insight he said.

“You are the Christ, the son of the living God”    

We celebrate every facet of Peter, the intensely human Peter, the flawed and leaden footed, sometimes cowardly sometimes brave Peter, the sometimes dense and the sometimes insightful Peter.

We celebrate the whole person because he is just like us. We too are flawed, sometimes leaden footed, sometimes obtuse, sometimes cowardly.
Sometimes we can be guilty of getting in the way of God’s plan rather than helping it along.

But we should also celebrate the inspired Peter and try to emulate him.

For the rock that Jesus refers to, the solid rock of faith, is the same rock on which this church was built.

More to the point it is the rock on which the future of this church is being built right now.

We together as a community are all the present and the future of this church and however flawed we might be, just like Peter, this rock of faith is the only solid foundation that we have.

If we build on that rock, we have nothing to fear.

That rock of faith unlocks the gates of heaven. The keys to the kingdom belong to all of us who have faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ, son of the living God.

If we can say along with Peter…”You are the Christ, the son of the living God”, no matter how much we get things wrong, and we often will; if we keep that belief at the forefront of our hearts and minds, that is our foundation.

If we can build our personal lives on that belief, we are secure because churches are just collections of individuals. Our collective strength relies on us going forward in the same direction based on that common belief.

But the edifice will fall if our foundations are not strong.

Jesus said “On this rock I will build my church”

When we talk about the church let’s be clear what and who we are talking about.

The church is not primarily this building even though that is what we colloquially mean when we refer to the church. This building houses the church. The church, ecclesia, actually means a collection of people.

We are the church. We are built together on the rock of faith in Jesus Christ.

This was the faith of Peter who wrote in his first letter this inspiring piece about us, and I want to end with Peter’s words. Have in mind that when Peter was writing this, he was thinking of each one of you.

1 Peter 2:4-6 
As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
    a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”


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