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Simon Peter

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Welcome Simon Peter

This morning we meet Jesus’ disciple, Simon Peter. The truth is there are things, good and bad, in Simon Peter’s personality and character that also live in us. Listen to this story.

Master teacher and preacher, Dr. Fred Craddock, tells about something that happened many years ago while he was driving cross country. He had stopped at a small diner somewhere in the South to refresh himself with an early breakfast and some coffee. He had been driving through the night and now it was getting close to dawn. And he was sleepy.

As he waited for his breakfast order to come, Craddock spied a black man who had just come in and had sat down on a stool up by the lunch counter. The diner’s manager then began to treat the black man with a contempt that was clearly borne of deep seated racism. The manager was rude, insulting, demeaning toward his black guest. As he sat in his booth a little ways away from the counter, Craddock wrestled with whether to say something to chide this manager for his shameful, racist conduct.

Meanwhile the black man quickly slurped down some coffee and fled into the darkness. Craddock remained silent. “I didn’t say anything,” he confessed. “I quietly paid my bill, left the diner, and headed back to my car. But as I walked through the parking lot, somewhere in the distance, I heard a rooster crow.”

One Sunday Fred Craddock was a guest preacher at a church and he preached a sermon with that story in it. After the service, a man came up to him in the narthex, shook Craddock’s hand vigorously, and said, “Thank you, pastor, for that powerful sermon. That really hit home! Oh, but by the way, what was that business with the rooster?”

Well, you and I know about that business with the rooster! Peter is the disciple who denied Jesus three times in the courtyard of the high priest early on crucifixion Friday. Jesus foretold his denial, even the rooster that crowed after the third time.

But Peter was also powerfully redeemed and restored by Jesus. Jesus said He would build His Church on Peter’s faith. To this day, the Catholic Church regards Simon Peter, the fisherman from Bethsaida, as the first Pope. It is widely held that Simon Peter served the people in the Church of Rome for many years before being put to death by the Roman Emperor Nero.

It’s true that Simon Peter did not always say the right thing, or do the right thing. Neither do we. But what Simon Peter did do, we also need to do: take up the cross of Jesus Christ, the cross of servanthood every day. When we do that we find God. When we do that we find Jesus. When we do that we find life. Happy Palm Sunday!

Your Pastor and Friend, Mark

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