"And Simon Peter answered and said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Jesus answered and said to him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." - Matt. 16:16-18.
I gave up lattes for lent. I didn't think this was going to be hard, until the barista at my favourite place looked at me, shall we say, sceptically. I did make it through, although it was rough. The point of giving up something for lent is two-fold - to remind ourselves of the sacrifice of Christ for us, and to remind ourselves that we are only human. When I give up latte's, I remember how easy it is to become dependent on things, how easy it is to need things, to much. Want to know what it really is to be human? Fast for 24 hours. The hunger pains remind us how small and weak we really are. Lent is a period of humbling, and dare I say it, re-ordering our world.
It's good to remember the sacrifice, the pain and the betrayal that set us all free. After Gabriel's death, the Resurrection is much more real to me. But, that's not my problem. My problem tends to be the control I want over my life. I want my life, my way, and that's not a particularly Christian way to live.
I was sitting in Church on Sunday, thinking about Peter. I was particularly thinking about his denial of Christ, twice before the rooster crowed. On Easter morning, as we celebrate the glorious Resurrection, it's particularly easy to wonder at Peter - not so much the denial, but his fear. I have always assumed, somewhat sensibly, that Peter denied Christ out of fear. After all, as he was denying Christ, the Romans, the Sanhedrin, the Pharisee's, they were getting ready to kill him. I can see him thinking that it was not a safe time to stand up for your convictions. Standing up for his convictions was going to get him killed as well.
But, I wonder if it was something more than that. It occurs to me, things changed pretty dramatically for Peter on the first night of the Passover. I would imagine, in spite of all Christ's teachings to the contrary, his suggestions that his time was short, his inconvenient statements about his death, that Peter had perhaps come to believe that this vagabond life with Christ would go on, if not forever, well, for a much longer time. It was, probably not exactly comfortable, but known. Peter knew what the shape of his days would be, or at least he thought he did.
And in an instant, a blink, the dipping of a piece of bread, it all changed. Satan entered Judas, Judas betrayed Christ, and the chain of events that led to not just the crucifixion, but the Resurrection began in earnest.
And so I sat in the pew, thinking about Peter. Thinking about my own tendencies, my own human nature. Wondering if some of Peter's denial simply came from a need to try and get back to where he was, to what was stable.
I wondered, then and now, if Peter's denial was as much a denial of his association with Christ, as it was a denial of the circumstances he found himself in. If the denial was a way of closing his eyes tightly, and opening them again, to see if things had gone back to the way they were. A way of saying I refuse to accept this reality, I want things back to the way they were. When we look at this, it seems perhaps silly, Christ, the only man to defeat death, the man who tore the veil between God and man in two, the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises, the source of power, and Peter was worried about what would happen next.
We have the benefit of hindsight now, we can see what the crucifixion accomplished. Peter had no such benefit. It's easy to look back and think that Peter was a bit wimpy, but on Sunday, as I thought about transitions, I wouldn't say I was thinking of Peter as a wimp.
And what does all of this have to do with Latte's and lent? Not much really, just a reminder that I really have no control over my life. And that it's easy enough to miss out on the Resurrection, if you are stuck in the same old place.