In a time when serious public discussion of life is carried on without reference to its inner meaning; when there is no mention of transcendent reality; when “spirit” is equated with individual psychology; in such a time we ought to be speaking of God.
Resurrection Chapel National Cathedral, Washington, D.C.
Friday, May 25, 2012
Transformation Through Easter
Easter doesn’t last forever.
Resurrection does, but the events we commemorate in the observances of
the Easter season unfold in a period of fifty days. That’s why the word “Easter,” questionable etymology and
all, is useful. It delineates the
time when the risen Christ appears, instructs and then commissions the band of
disciples, who become his apostles to the world.
The Great Fifty Days, as they are traditionally known, are filled with
varied and sometimes confusing encounters that change the followers of Jesus
from quite ordinary and dispirited men and women lost in grief and regret into a
force that literally changes the world in their lifetime.
Perhaps no one personifies that change more than Peter. The first to name Jesus as Messiah and
Son of God, the first with insights into the nature of the life to which they
are all being called, it is also Peter who denies even knowing Jesus on the
night of his trial. But then Peter
is singled out, forgiven and commissioned by Christ as the Fifty Days near
their end. Can we see the change
that comes upon them all by looking through Peter’s eyes?
Peter At Cockcrow John 18:15-27
The sound of that rooster!
I believe it will echo in my mind until I die. Daylight has not yet come, and already my own words have
burned a scar in my soul.
At table I was filled with bravado. “Even if they all become deserters I will never desert
you...Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.”
And he said, not unkindly, “Peter, I tell you this very night, before
the cock crows, you will deny me three times.”
A mere hour later, in the garden, he asked three of us to keep vigil
while he prayed, and three times we all fell sound asleep.
Then came the arrest, and somehow I was bold again. I drew my sword, and struck the High
Priest's servant before he restrained me.
Even so, I followed as they took him to the palace of Caiaphas, where
the Council waited. I alone entered
the courtyard, looking for a chance to do something, anything; to prevent what
was to come...That is, until they started asking questions.
A servant-girl came over to me.
“You also were with Jesus the Galilean,” she said.
“I do not know what you are talking about.”
Another servant remarked to a group of bystanders, “This man was with
Jesus of Nazareth.”
“I do not know the man.”
A little later one of those gathered came over to me, “Certainly you
are also one of them. Your
Galilean accent betrays you.”
“By the Lord our God, I do not know the man!”
At that instant the cock crowed.
I bolted from the courtyard.
My shame couldn't have been more complete if I'd handed him over
myself. And now, hidden for fear
of discovery, I see myself for the impetuous, boastful, cowardly fraud I am.
Deep inside I know what the morning will bring, and to the very depths
of my being I know I have neither the wits nor the courage to do anything about
Peter Is Charged John 21:1-19
Though the mist hung over the lake that dawn, at John’s word I knew Him
instantly. The dash for shore, the
fish grilled on the beach, all a blur of movement and sensation.
Then, after we ate, He drew me aside and we were alone for the first
time since His rising. “Simon, son
of John, do you love me more than these?” The words cut deep, and I saw torchlight and chaos. “Yes, Lord, you know I do.”
“Feed my lambs.”
We walked a little further, and He faced me squarely: “Simon, son of
John, do you love me?” My mind
spun, and I was in the midst of a crowd huddling for warmth around a charcoal
fire. “Yes, Lord, you know I love
“Tend my sheep.”
By the water’s edge, He fixed me with a gaze that took in the whole
world: “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” My spirit went blank, and in the depths of my soul a rooster
crowed. “Lord, you know
everything; you know I love you.”
“Feed my sheep.”
In that moment I was set free.
Three denials betrayed the shallowness of my early love. Three questions, searing in their
simplicity, undid the betrayal and this time my love held firm. I have never lost the wonder that H
chose me, impulsive and vacillating, to care for our little band, and the
wonder is multiplied that by His grace and love alone I have fulfilled the