Peter is the disciple who seems to be in the right place at the
right time. On the seashore of Galilee, fisherman Simon,
always ready for an adventure, hears the call of invitation and
says in so many ways, “Yep, I’m in!” Dropping his nets, he
kisses that life good-bye. And so it goes: the camping trip up
a mountain and the witness of the Transfiguration; Peter, who
impulsively and without hesitation jumps out of the boat, then
instinctively moves toward his Messiah. Yet stories of Peter moving
away from the Lord offset some of these events. He finally
denies knowing Jesus.
Who better to help us find our identity in Christ than Peter?
He knows from personal experience about long-term commitment
to Jesus: “a stone that makes [us] stumble, and a rock
that makes [us] fall.” But Peter has learned that God builds the
house, and Jesus Christ is the cornerstone. The pupil becomes
the teacher. And commitment to this understanding makes
believers “living stone[s]” who are precious in God’s sight.
We are constantly called back into the covenantal relationship
as God’s chosen people, called to move toward God. It is a
daily endeavor that occurs moment by moment. When I move
toward the Wonderful Counselor, words flow more freely onto
the page. But when uncertainty and fear of failure creep through
the cracks in my confidence, I move away from living confidently
as a child of God. Fortunately, this scripture speaks to us
when we want to turn away and deny the claim that we “are a
chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.”
Who is this guy? Peter was the impulsive rock on whom
Jesus would build his church—a man who at one time moved
away but with the taste of God’s goodness on his tongue was
“called . . . out of darkness into his marvelous light”!
Lord, may we ever move toward you. We are your chosen ones. Amen.
Since the beginning, Israel’s faith has turned to God in situations of extreme trouble. In such turning, Israel has found God utterly reliable and able to rescue. Today’s psalm reading sounds those ancient cadences of reliability. The sermon in Acts 7 takes up those ancient cadences and places them on the lips and in the mouth of Stephen. Stephen’s preaching evokes hostility in his listeners. In the end, however, it is Stephen who knows the joy and well- being of life as a gift from God. Both the Gospel and epistle readings turn the faith of the psalm and drama of Stephen’s ending toward the concrete reality of the church. They tilt toward the need of a domesticated church to reengage its peculiar identity and its unusual mode of being. The language of “place” serves the practice of risky obedience.
• Read Acts 7:55-60. When have you experienced the Holy Spirit’s nudge telling you, “This is wrong”? What did you do?
• Read 1 Peter 2:2-10. How will we continue to drink of pure spiritual milk so we can repeatedly be called out of darkness into God’s light?
• Read Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16. What would it mean for you to
say to God, “My times are in your hand”?
• Read John 14:1-14. What tough faith questions have you asked Jesus? What was his response?
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