Welcome to the Cathedral Church of Saints Peter & Paul, Clifton.
 

Sunday 24th June 2018
The Nativity of St John the Baptist, Year B
Isaiah 49: 1-6     Acts 13: 22-26     Luke 1: 57-66, 80

Find Out Who You Are.

Those of us who have been Christians since childhood take Peter and Paul for granted. They are like one piece of the same jigsaw. Even their names seem to go together like Laurel and Hardy or Marks and Spencer. We have to stop in our tracks for a while to remind ourselves that Peter and Paul each had to find out who they really were before they could become powerful agents in the service of Christ.

Peter was not always Peter. He came out of Simon, the rock out of the jelly. Today we celebrate him as the strong leader of the early Church; we recall him as being steadfast as a rock, the choice upon which Jesus would build his Church. But we remember that he was far from steady. He was the headstrong, volatile one who was told by Jesus to get behind him like Satan. He was the one full of promises which he broke as soon as the going got tough, the lover turned deserter. Yet Jesus knew this. That is why he invited him to discover his real self: not the Simon with all his limitations, but the Peter who in Christ would accomplish much.

Paul was not always Paul. He came out of Saul, the lamb out of the wolf. We recall the zealous Jew whose very life was consumed in tracking down Christians and persecuting them. We recall the man whose understanding of religion was such that he considered Christianity to be abhorrent to God. Yet for some reason he was not to remain so blinkered. He saw the light. He was blinded by the reality of Christ’s teachings and deep in his heart was no longer Saul the persecutor, but Paul the fearless preacher and teacher of the faith. When he became Paul he could be used by God to the fullest.

In every one of us there is both Simon and Saul. We don’t have to look hard to see our imperfections or seek far before finding our own fickleness or presumptuousness. The good news is that we are not condemned to live out this self-destructing role. At our baptism we are called to a greatness that we cannot achieve by ourselves. Our new name is that of ‘Christian’, and we agree to be living witnesses to the new life offered in Christ.

In a sense, our Christian life is a journey of discovery into who and what we are called to be. The more we know our true selves before God, the more God can use us in the service of the Gospel. God, of course, did use Simon and Saul. But when they faced up to who they really were, they could become Peter and Paul: far richer and more effective preachers of the Gospel. Do you know who God is asking you to be?

 

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Scripture Reflections (below) © Peter J Harrison 2018