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Laity Reflection: Have You Stretched?

April 25, 2019
Northern-Sun Print
Sometimes I’ve just got to stretch, don’t you? In the middle of the night, when I’ve been sleeping in one position for a long time, it feels so good to just stretch and get the kinks out. Today we are going to consider how Lent stretches us, if we let it. When we enter the days of Lent, we enter a time of prayer, thoughtfulness and change. Some of you may have “given something up” for Lent. We enter a time of consideration, learning about and contemplating Jesus’ last days on earth. We are encouraged to consider our sinfulness and enter into a time of repentance. If we do it right, this time of stretching leaves us changed. When we begin our stretch, we are just you and me – our human, imperfect selves. Now after the celebration of Easter, after accepting the gift God has given us of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, we find ourselves as changed persons. We have been following the life of Simon, now named by Jesus “Peter”. The last time I wrote, we were considering Peter stepping out of the boat as Jesus invited to him to come to him walking on the water. As Peter was distracted from keeping his eyes on Jesus, Peter began to sink. We were reminded that we, too, swerve from the path when we lose our focus on Jesus. After considering other aspects of Simon Peter’s life as a “Flawed but Faithful Disciple”*, we come to the pivotal events in Simon’s life that continued to prepare him for the role Jesus planned for him. In John 13:14-17 Simon and the other disciples learned Jesus wanted their role to be servant leaders: 14  If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15  For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16  Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant[c] is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17  If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. After the painful, humiliating realization that Simon Peter’s humanity would not back up his bold claims to follow Jesus, even “unto death”, we see the disciples fully embraced and welcomed to another chance as they meet Jesus on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Peter hears Jesus’ three questions about loving him and directives to Feed my lambs” and “Tend my sheep” bringing him forgiveness and direction to stretch into leading the formation of Christ’s body, the Christian church. (John 21:1-17) But that promise would not be fulfilled until Pentecost and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit we read about in Acts 2:1-4 and 34-41: (read the entire story in Acts 2:1-41) 2  When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2  And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3  And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested[a] on each one of them. 4  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. After this, with boldness, Peter spoke to the crowd gathered in Jerusalem of the one, Jesus of Nazareth, who had been crucified, died and buried, but rose again, having taken our sins upon him and died on our behalf, who now lives and invites us to live with him in his heavenly kingdom. Those listening to Peter were devastated at their part in his crucifiction. In Acts 2:37-41 we read: 37  Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38  And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39  For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40  And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41  So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. It wasn’t by Peter’s will that he was able to speak Christ’s power and resurrection. He was changed by the Holy Spirit giving him the desire and words to tell Jesus’ message and invite those who heard him to join in his changed life! It is not by our power and strength nor by our courage and knowledge that we are called to tell Jesus’ story of love and redemption. We, too, are not expected to be able to live and transform others into followers of the Easter-risen Christ by our power. Jesus’ invites us to know that his Holy Spirit can be the spark within us that transforms us from the meek, hesitant, shy and flawed followers we are to bold, inviting Christians telling His Holy story. We know this transformation may take place all at once or gradually in God’s time. As we do grow, we do change, embracing all that Easter means for us and stretching into the shape of Christ! *Reference: Simon Peter: Flawed but Faithful Disciple, Adam Hamilton, Copyright © 2018 Abingdon Press

In the grace, Spirit and love of Christ, Carolyn Moe



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