His faith failed him. Though he made bold promises, when the going got tough he followed at a distance. Peter denies even knowing Jesus, not once but three times. In the cover of darkness he betrays Jesus, saying to the maid, “Woman, I don’t know him.” And Peter is left weeping bitterly in the garden. The gospel of Luke (chapter 22) records how Peter’s faith seems to disintegrate when challenged.
So it is quite a shock when the sequel is written, Peter plays a leading role. The book of Acts begins with these words “In the first book I wrote…“ We are meant to remember how Peter melted into tears and silent betrayal as Jesus went to the cross. But when the disciples reassemble to try to move forward, it is Peter who becomes a leader. He leads the charge to replace Judas among the twelve. And then, just five weeks later, when the church is born by the gift of God’s holy spirit it is Peter who musters the bold courage to rise and preach the first sermon.
When we began streaming church 15 months ago, I was a bit like Peter, completely unsure if our faith community would survive during this challenging season of indeterminate length. But our congregation, led by a wise board and creative staff, and supported by members and friends of deep faith, has exhibited a resilience that has astounded me.
This coming Sunday we observe Pentecost, which is traditionally thought of as the birth of the church 2000 years ago, when the Spirit came to the disciples and Peter rose to preach that sermon. And you and I are celebrating the 100th birthday of our congregation, which today has pivoted to serve the community and world in astounding ways. I shouldn’t have been surprised. I shouldn’t have doubted. I should have trusted that the Spirit of God would continue to blow through you.
Grace and Peace,