by Rev. Andy Smith
I felt that I was sailing through Lent: I was denying myself food, praying more, attending church as much as possible (what else is a Curate to do?!) and getting myself geared up for Easter in a way that would impress my Vicar and wow the congregation.
And that’s when I stumbled…
Just like Peter did in Caesarea Philippi, I had been confessing Christ in one moment and then in an instant: “Get behind me Satan…”
In Mark 8, the disciples have been with Jesus in Caesarea Philippi, a place of pagan worship with a temple to the god Pan. It is here that Simon Peter confesses Jesus to be the Messiah. In Mark’s Gospel, we don’t get all the details of this event. Matthew 16 does offer us some more of the story as we see Jesus honouring Simon, whom he then calls Peter (meaning “Little Rock”). In essence Jesus is bestowing his identity onto Simon. The “Big Rock” of the Bible is of course God, the mighty one of Israel (Psalm 18:2, 2 Samuel 23:3, Isaiah 30:29) and as Jesus receives his identity from the Father, he is then able to bestow the same identity on those that put their faith in him. This is what Simon had done and so his identity is changed and he becomes Peter, The Little Rock.
Until he made a mess of it…like we all do. In Mark 8:32 & Matt 16:22, Peter was only trying to help Jesus – he didn’t want his friend to die. And yet the rock on which Christ would build His Church become a stumbling block to Him (Matt 16:23). Jesus was quick to rebuke too…ouch!
In my own false Lenten piety I had managed to forget that I needed to point to Christ in all I was doing and not just point to myself. To cut a long story short, I managed to get into a couple of stupid fights with my wife and kids last week; the upshot of which was I not only fell out with them but managed to terrify and scare them too. “Get behind me Andy”. Ouch.
I shouldn’t have been too surprised. In my “doing of Lent”, I had neglected to sit and be with the one who gives me the same “Little Rock” identity as Peter. I too am a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19), a living stone (1 Peter 2:4-5) and it is indeed Christ who lives in me (Gal 2:20) through his Spirit. It was a wonderful reminder that I have the potential to be a stone that Christ will use to build his church but also a harsh slap in the face that I also have the potential to trip people up – even if it was myself.
So as we turn our faces towards Jerusalem and the cross in the next two weeks, let’s make sure we are confident in the identity Christ himself gives us because that comes directly from The Father. By allowing Christ to transform our inner world with His identity, we too can be part of the transformation of our outer world – and that sounds sacramental to me. I hope that is what we are about.
Go well as we enter Passiontide…
Special thanks to our dear friend Rev Andy Smith.
- Church of England Curate working in the parish of St Andrew with Holy Cross in Basildon. Part of the Diocese of Chelmsford.
- Ordained Deacon in June 2014 and due to be ordained Priest in July 2015.
- Married to Alice for 13 years. 2 kids: Matilda age 8, Isaac age 3.
- Loves soccer, triathlons, playing music and baking.
- A big fan of Knoxville TN, the Smokies and ale.
@holydisorder on twitter or holydisorder.com