Confession of St. Peter (transferred)[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 66, 67 (morning) // 118 (evening)
Today we celebrate St. Peter’s bold confession of faith in Jesus Christ, earning himself the title (or nickname) of “rock” on which Jesus would build the church. But it’s misleading for us to emphasize Peter’s confident faith and to rest too firmly on the image of Peter as a solid, stable rock. The glorious thing about Peter’s faith is that it wavered and regained its balance, and that it shifted over time.
Our second reading opens with a strong assertion by Peter about God’s love and goodness transcending national boundaries. Peter says, “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” In other words, God’s love and goodness could not be contained or constrained by any of the categories that organized Peter’s world.
What this reading doesn’t reveal is that Peter did not arrive at this belief in God’s impartiality right away. Other Scriptures record Peter’s resistance to fellowship among Jews and Gentiles, and they reveal the tension in the early Christian community between Peter and the eager evangelist Paul. Yet, in his speech from Acts, Peter finally recognizes God’s presence and activity beyond the boundaries that once felt comfortable to him.
Clearly, Peter had a faith that could spread and grow, not because he firmly held the same convictions all his life, but because he had the grace to grown and change himself. The worship resource Holy Women, Holy Men puts it this way: “Opposed at first to the baptism of Gentiles, he had the humility to admit a change of heart, and to baptize the Roman centurion Cornelius and his household.”
Today, we should honor Peter not for his bold, confident, assertive faith, but for his humility in letting his sense of God expand and in recovering from his own failures to follow Christ. That faith may not look like a firm foundation at first glance, but it’s a lot more likely to withstand the shifts and swells of the ground beneath our feet for ages to come.
Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.