|15 Then Jesus asked the disciples, “But who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, Christ, the Son of the living God.”Then Jesus said to him, ‘You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.
19 And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven.’
(Matthew 16: 15-16,18-19)
Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
forgive our foolish ways!
Re-clothe us in our rightful mind,
in purer lives thy service find,
in deeper reverence, praise;
in deeper reverence, praise.
In simple trust like theirs who heard,
beside the Syrian sea,
the gracious calling of the Lord,
let us, like them, without a word,
rise up and follow thee;
rise up and follow thee.
Drop thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace;
the beauty of thy peace.
Breathe through the heats of our desire
thy coolness and thy balm;
let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm;
O still, small voice of calm.
Over the last 2 weeks it has been lovely to enter St Peter’s for private prayer. I have particularly enjoyed gazing, once again, at the stained glass windows to inspire my reflection. The stained glass window of St Peter is on the north side of the church. Please go into the church when it is open on Wednesday or Saturday. If you gaze at the window, ask God to speak to you through it, as you reflect and pray.
The window recalls the passage from Matthew’s Gospel with Peter holding the keys to the kingdom of heaven. That is only one of many stories about St Peter. Perhaps my favourite story of Peter, the disciple, is when he was still struggling to understand Jesus’ ministry and learning to trust him. It’s the account of Jesus and Peter walking on water.
Matthew 14:22-33 (NLT)
22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.
24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morning[a] Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”
27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”
28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong[c] wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”
32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.
Peter walks on the water towards Jesus
Many great artists have been inspired by this story, but I have chosen a simple line drawing to facilitate further reflection. I wanted an illustration which showed Peter walking towards Jesus, rather than sinking under the waves.
During lockdown I have missed Messy Church with the opportunity to sit and colour in a picture of a Bible story, whilst chatting about it. If you are like me, then please print out the picture, reflect and colour at the same time.
(You’ll find it at https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/192669690282012784/ )
What can we learn from the story?
When Jesus called him, Peter obeyed. He didn’t hesitate, he didn’t just dip his toe in the water, he climbed over the side of the boat and he walked on the waves. Try to imagine what it must have been like for Peter to feel the waves under his feet, supporting him as he took one step at a time towards Jesus.
What an amazing moment! Like some of the works of art, it is so easy to focus on Peter losing his nerve and sinking, but for a little while, Peter experienced the miraculous, and walked on the sea!
What was it like for the other disciples, sitting in the boat? Were they afraid and bewildered or, maybe a little envious?
As long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus he continued to walk towards him. When we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, amazing things can happen! If we panic and look away, if we lose faith, we may sink like Peter. But when we cry out to the Lord again, he is waiting to rescue us.
That night, Peter and the rest of the disciples learnt that, and recognised and worshiped Jesus as the Son of God. But they were slow to learn, they experienced other storms and they had to be reminded over and over again.
Fortunately Jesus will continue patiently to remind us again and again, too. If we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, he will guide us, one step at a time on the right path, and show us many wonderful things.
Keeping alert with our eyes fixed on Jesus, is especially important as we begin to adapt to the ‘new normal’, with the possibility of meeting together again, soon.
The Collect for St Peter’s Day
Who inspired your apostle Saint Peter
to confess Jesus as Christ and Son of the living God:
Build up your Church upon this rock,
That in unity and peace it may proclaim one truth
And follow one Lord, your Son our Saviour Christ,
Who is alive and reigns with you,
In the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, now and for ever, Amen
Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us
o’er the world’s tempestuous sea;
guard us, guide us, keep us, feed us,
for we have no help but thee;
yet possessing every blessing,
if our God our Father be.
Saviour, breathe forgiveness o’er us;
all our weakness thou dost know;
thou didst tread this earth before us;
thou didst feel its keenest woe;
yet unfearing, persevering,
to thy passion thou didst go.
Spirit of our God, descending,
fill our hearts with heavenly joy;
love with every passion blending
pleasure that can never cloy;
thus provided, pardoned, guided,
nothing can our peace destroy.