To be a Christian is to participate. To be a Christian is to be part of something bigger than just yourself. To be a Christian is to be bound together with others. By virtue of our baptism we are made members of a new family, a new community, the Body of Christ. That family, that community, that body, is called the Church.
I am the Church, YOU are the Church, WE are the Church. If we want the Church to grow and develop and change for the better, then we who call ourselves Christians and members of the Body of Christ must step up and take responsibility. We are called to be active participants, not passive observers. We are sent by the Lord to participate in his work for the world. We are called to be apostles, those who are sent in the name of Christ, just as much as Peter.
Jesus famously says to Peter that he is the rock upon which the Church will be built. He has an important part to play, an offering to give. Like all of us, Peter was imperfect in so many ways. He proclaims Christ as Lord and then betrays him. He is reluctant to let Jesus wash his feet and he sets his mind on earthly things rather than heavenly things. But despite everything Peter becomes Cephas, the ‘rock’, and Peter proclaims Jesus as his Lord and his God.
Peter may well have driven many of us around the bend, but he was a central figure in Jesus’ life and in building up the early Church. We have so much more in common with him than we’ll ever realise. By his example we can have great hope in the fact that the Church of God is made up of ordinary people who are bound together in God’s love, a Church made up of diverse opinions and personalities that through love can change the world for the better and become extraordinary!
Everyone has gifts to share, something to offer. However inadequate we feel, God can take us and use us, whatever our backgrounds, whoever we are, in our diversity and with all our imperfections. But in order for this to happen we need to step up and take responsibility.
This truth is clearly seen in the life of St Peter. We are the rocks that help build the Church of today, the living stones that have so much more potential than mere bricks and mortar. As we look forward to re-entering our church building for worship in the weeks ahead WE must remember that it is the people who make the church building come alive, not the other way around. Building community, building a Church is never easy and only achieved when we step towards the action, not away from it.
Around this time of year, on or around 29th June, the Church makes new deacons and priests. This year, because of the pandemic, that will happen a little later than planned. People from all walks of life will take a step forward for Christ into an unknown future and put themselves forward for all sorts of ministries according to their God-given gifts. Amongst them we pray for Cate Turner from St Peter’s, who will be made a Curate in the Bramerton Group, in our own diocese. We pray for Cate’s current and future ministry and with thanksgiving for her family. We also give thanks for all those members of our local church family who have contributed so much to our community through their own ministries and who, sadly, have passed away during Lockdown. This week we celebrate Thelma Hale.
So at this time of year, when we remember St Peter and the fact he stepped forward and said ‘I am the Church’, perhaps it’s also the time for us to remember that WE, too, are the Church! We are not all called to be ordained, but by virtue of our baptism we are called to be a living stone. We have a part to play, something significant to offer. Inspired by the teaching and example of Peter, perhaps today is a good day to think about our contribution to the life of the Church and consider what God is calling us to be and do in his name.
Following the pandemic, the Church of the future will look very different to how it once did. And all will be well. Indeed, it could even be much better. Bound together by love, let’s step forward together in humility and service and in doing so, continue to make our world a much better place for all.
Every Blessing, Christian