TO: Manatial de Gracia
TITLE: I AM: A Man Named Pete
Hebrew Scripture: Leviticus 19:1-2 and 9-18 NIV
The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the LORD your God. You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; and you shall not lie to one another. And you shall not swear falsely by my name, profaning the name of your God: I am the LORD. You shall not defraud your neighbor; you shall not steal; and you shall not keep for yourself the wages of a laborer until morning. You shall not revile the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind; you shall fear your God: I am the LORD. You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor: I am the LORD. You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
Gospel Reading: Matthew 26:33-35 and 69-75 NIV
Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: “‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same. Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said. But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.” He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!” After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.” Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
I AM: A Man Named Pete
Happy Sunday! As you may have heard I am just returning to Connecticut after having spent some time studying and worshipping in Indonesia. I was asked to preach today, but I was also asked to tell you a bit about my experience. And though I am still processing all the changes that have happened I want to share a bit about my trip. So please bear with me if I seem to over-share!
Buenos Dias en Espanol.
Good Morning in English.
And Salamat Pagi in Bahasa Indonesian.
On Sundays in Indonesia, the phrase that you most often hear in churches is Happy Sunday “Senang Minggu!” It is exclaimed joyfully, alerting all within earshot that we have made it to the bosom of our faith community once more. It is stated joyfully because it is not always the case. It is an accomplishment, being able to once more proclaim that we are Christian’s out loud, together. And the response upon hearing it, is equally jubilant. So, let’s practice…Happy Sunday church!!
Today’s Gospel reading comes from the Gospel according to Matthew, chapter 26, verses 33-35 and 69-75 NIV. Let me tell you the story: Jesus and his disciples shared a meal together, this is not an uncommon thing, actually it is a very common occurance, something they had done repeatedly during their time together. But this meal was different than the others. This meal was a special celebration, an observance of a special event. This was their Passover celebration (the day Jews celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread—some of you might remember that this was the meal that the Jewish people cooked in a hurry prior to Moses leading them on a long trip out of slavery)
During that dinner two stand out things occurred:
1-Jesus talked about a man who would betray him… and Judas sat at the table with him and Jesus KNEW. And though Jesus knew his betrayer, he shared a meal with him. And
2-As they talked around the table, Jesus took the bread, gave thanks and broke it as he shared the bread with his disciples he said: take and eat, this is my body. Then he picked up a cup and after giving thanks once more, he shared with them and said, DRINK – ALL OF YOU! This is my blood of the covenant POURED OUT FOR THE FORGIVENSS OF SINS. This is the last meal we will share together until I meet you in my Fathers kingdom.
When they finished eating, they left to the Mount of Olives, and again Jesus talked of those who would betray him, this time one who would deny him. And Peter said, Not me Jesus! I would never do that… But Jesus knew. God knew.
Before I continue, let us pray: …
This weeks sermon is titled: I AM: A Man Named Pete.
Have you ever felt like you weren’t good enough to be used by God? Have you ever wondered about your worth? Have you ever felt like you were fighting an uphill battle? Or as Rev Day would say: Have you ever Considered Working for God?
YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I told you that I was asked to tell you about my trip to Indonesia, but before I can do that I have to tell the truth. I have always considered working for God. Really! When I graduated high school I was accepted into Roanoke College’s Christian Studies Department. But I did not go. See, I didn’t think I was good enough. I didn’t think I was worthy. I felt like I was fighting an uphill battle.
To be HONEST… I had been told that I wasn’t good enough to call myself a Christian. Much less to think about working for God. In 1995 my guidance counselor explained to me that he did not really think I was cut out for college much less seminary. And at the time, I believed it.
I can’t say I was like Judas and knew I was going to betray Jesus, but I wasn’t willing to try. And I can’t say I was like Peter and was willing to at least lie and say that I’d never deny Jesus, but I wasn’t willing to try.
So instead I did lots of other things! And most of my experiences, I am not willing to share. But let me tell you a secret…I AM a man named Pete. I have not walked this walk alone. My Creator has been with me all along. And if God could walk with me where I walked, he is for sure walking with you as well.
Last year at this time I was a Seminarian, studying at Hartford Seminary and in the process of completing my transfer application to Andover Newton Theological School in Massachussetts. Some of those fears and feelings of inadequacy were falling away. Enough that I was daring to dream big. I mean, if I could be accepted to Seminary, what other things could God do?
I put together my application for a special grant, one that would require that I step completely out of my comfort zone. A fellowship to do research on a topic of my choosing… If you want to know what I learned talk to me later! What I found in Indonesia though, is that when God has a plan for you, the table is set. The bread and the wine are already there, everything is prepared for you.
When I arrived in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, after a 32-hour commute my plane was 6 hours late. No one knew to meet me at the airport. I had no phone to reach out to my contacts, there wasn’t a payphone. Oh did I mention that I don’t speak Indonesian?
But I met a lady working at a booth, who understood that I needed to call someone. I reached my destination. But that is not the surprising thing. That came the next day over a shared meal at the cafeteria. I met a man who invited me to speak at his church that Sunday, and low and behold, it was the same church I had planned to attend!
I was welcome there. As I am welcome here. As we are each welcome at God’s table. This sacred table, whether it is in a cathedral, a park, a Buddhist, Confuscious, or Hindu temple, a mosque, a parking lot, the side of the road, the creator is there to welcome us. Just as we are.
Because the most beautiful part to me of Judas and Peters story, is that Jesus welcomed them at the Sacred Table just as they were. He didn’t ask them to be anyone other than who God had created them to be. Amen.
Song: Peter by Urban D / He Knows My Name by Israel (the one with children)
Prayer (taken from In Spirit and In Truth Prayers to the Holy Spirit
God, of grace and holiness, send upon us today your Holy Spirit as you sent the Spirit upon the apostles on the day of Pentecost, so that our prayers and our deeds may bear witness to this desire which possesses us: We wish to be one, Lord, so that the world may believe that we belong to you. Fill us now with your love [en sobre abundancia. Amen.]