by the Rev. Dr. Delmer L. Chilton
Bubba II apologizes for his “deadly sin” this week (sloth, you know!) No commentary on the texts, but here’s the sermon. Happy preaching, friends!
I have often wondered why Jesus decided to give Simon-Bar-Jona the nickname Rocky, for that is what the name Peter means. It comes from the Latin “petra” meaning rock or stone. The most familiar English usage is in the word “petrified,” meaning “turned to stone”.
Most of the time people who are nicknamed Rocky are stalwart, unmovable, straight-ahead, no-nonsense kind of guys, like Rocky Balboa. Somehow the name Rocky doesn’t seem to fit Simon son of Jona.
For this Rocky, this Peter, was, to put it bluntly, not very dependable. He was hot one minute, cold the next.
I’ll walk on water, Lord.
I’ll never let them take you Lord, give me that Sword.
Lord, I’ll stand by you forever.
Was Jesus making fun of Simon by calling him Peter?
Or was Jesus being both more realistic and more daring than we can ever imagine?
When Jesus picked someone like Simon bar Jona to be the backbone of the church, Jesus picked someone remarkably like us. We are all probably more like Peter than we would like to admit.
We grow hot and cold in our enthusiasm for God; we are often confused about our faith, about what it means to be a follower of Jesus; we continually stumble on our journey to Jerusalem.
There are TWO great confessions of faith in today’s Gospel Lesson:
One is Simon saying to Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
The other is Jesus saying to Simon, “You are Rocky and on this Rock I will build my church.”
Ever since I was a little kid I have found many things in the Bible hard to understand.
I have spent my adult life sorting out answers to those questions.
But, that is indeed what God has done.
When Jesus says to Simon, “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my church . . . . “
We should hear, “Members of Messiah Lutheran Church, you are Rocky and on this rock,
There are many things that come to mind when one says “Church;”
All those aspects of being the church are built on just two things:
1) Our faith in God; and
2) God’s faith in us.
A better way to say that would be that the church is built on just one thing;
God chose to build the church on the somewhat uncertain rock of our faith and our discipleship and our commitment to Christ and the Gospel.
God risked everything by trusting us with “the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven.”
I have two grown sons. I did not realize what a tremendous thing God had done in giving us the keys until I had to give my oldest son the keys to the family car when he turned sixteen. But, after a few speeding tickets and small fender benders he began to live into that trust.
God has handed to us the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. God has shown a tremendous amount of faith in us. And let’s be clear. It is not trust that we have earned; it is trust that we have been given in the fervent hope and belief that we will grow up enough to handle it.
It is a scary thought, and a humbling one, to realize that God has put the Gospel, the Keys to the Kingdom, into our hands. It is a thing that is so, so big, and we are so, so small; that we don’t even know where to start.
“It helps now and then to step back and take a long view.”
Those are the first words of what is being called “The Prayer of Oscar Romero.” It has circulated on the internet and printed on posters, etc.
Romero was the Archbishop of El Salvador who was killed at the Altar during Mass by a government death squad.
“It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work”.
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
in realizing that.
an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.