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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Matthew 16:13–20

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on 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, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. (NRSV)

“For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.” Jesus recognizes the faith and risk it takes to not only believe in Jesus but to be part of the world Jesus desires. Keep in mind, at this point there was no church or Christianity. The disciples must have been confused but also filled with hope, excitement, and probably fear of what was to come. They probably had no idea what they were getting into, but they learned through Jesus about faith in the intangible—a type of faith that would lead them to take risks.

Struck by the image of the rock as the church’s foundation, I’m reminded of my brother who loves to rock climb. It just so happens to be his birthday today, so it’s fitting that I think of him. In hearing his stories, rock climbing seems terrifying. It involves building strength and resilience, trust in your climbing partner or team, and also faith in the sturdiness of the rock. If you’ve got a good hold on your next step (I have no idea what the climbing jargon is), you’ll be fine. When you do reach your goal, you’re amazed at what you’ve accomplished because you weren’t even sure you could do it in the first place. The path is never clear. You figure it out as you go with your partner or team.

I think working towards God’s kingdom on earth is similar. It seems impossible, and we don’t even have a clear vision of how to get there. We do know, though, that it takes faith in the mystery of God’s rocklike presence and power, and it takes our ability to risk.

God, help us have faith today, so that we are empowered to take risks for the earth that you desire. Amen.

Written by Abbi Heimach-Snipes, Pastoral Resident

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