Sunday 24th August (21st In Ordinary Time). First Reading Isiah 22:19-23. Responsorial Psalm was 137 "Your love, O Lord is eternal, discard not the work of your hands.". Second Reading Romans 11:33-36. Gospel: Matthew 16:13-20. The sermon this week was presented by lay reader Sally Davies from St Lukes (see Sals' sermon below).
The Service next Sunday - the 22nd In Ordinary Time is at 9.30am. The service this Thursday (St Augustine) is back to it's normal time of 9.30am.
The Northern Provincial Festival will be held at York Minster on Saturday 11th October at 12 noon (the Bishop of Beverley will be the celebrant). If you would like to attend please contact Father Richard.
There will be no coffee morning this Tuesday (26th August) due to the Bank Holiday but the Parish Hall will be open to take tote payments. The Youth Club is still on its summer holidays and will return on 2nd September.
Matthew 16 v 13-20
Jesus asks the disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” He is asking what the people make of him. What do they see in him? What do they expect of him?
He probably already knows the answers, but he wants to hear it from his disciples; he wants to hear the whisperings from amongst the crowds.
If Jesus were to ask that question today, I’m sure the answers would be quite similar - he’s a good man, a prophet, a teacher. Perhaps some might think today that he is simply a good story; that he’s not real - no more than Father Christmas or Captain America are real. But he is still generally seen as a force for good, even if people think he’s made up.
We also have to remember that describing Jesus as a prophet was not necessarily a compliment. Some of the people that he was compared to were seen as trouble-makers, reactionaries, rabble-rousers. And there are those today who would agree.
But Jesus - having had his suspicions confirmed - quickly moves on to the more important question: “Who do YOU say I am?”
These are men who have spent every waking moment with him, who have witnessed his preaching, his healing, his public speaking. They have benefitted from his private teachings, living alongside him as friends and companions. They have had time to really get to know him as a person and to see him in his entirety - as a public figure, a rabbi, a friend. The disciples have seen him struggling with decisions and uncertainties; they’ve been with him in prayer and worship; they’ve gone to him with their own problems and concerns; they’ve shared in fun and laughter as friends. Of all the people on earth, they know him best. And so what they think is important to him.
Who do you say I am?
Peter is quick to respond: “You are the Messiah”
Jesus is pleased with Peter’s answer - he recognises that what the people on the street say has not influenced Peter. Jesus knows that Peter’s response - his insight - comes from God.
We think of this as Peter’s confession of faith. And each week we all confess our faith in the words of the Creed.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made... And so on.
But what do we truly believe? How would you describe Jesus to someone who knows nothing about him? If they were to ask you why you are a Christian and what Jesus means to you, what would you say?
I would say that Jesus is God’s way of connecting with me on a personal level. Jesus came to live amongst his people that they might better understand God’s purpose for their lives. He truly is God incarnate, but in human form, that we might more easily relate to him. When he saw people in physical suffering, he healed them. When he saw people in physical need, he provided for them. When he saw people in anguish he came alongside them and eased their troubled hearts and minds. He offered both practical solutions and spiritual comfort. To see Christ is to see God’s heart laid bare. He is my Saviour and my Lord, but he is also my brother and friend. In him all things are possible.
That’s just my response - yours may be different, and that’s as it should be, because we each have to find our own answers as we develop our relationship with Jesus.
Whatever our own personal understanding may be, holding on to that belief in every waking moment is not easy, because life is full of difficulties and distractions, and it’s so easy to lose sight of these important truths in the midst of it all. But if we can take a moment to pause and re-focus, we can look at our lives - our whole lives: work, relationships, actions, encounters with others, finances, and everything else - through the lens of our faith and allow Christs’s power to show us the possibilities that his love creates in us.
When Jesus asks us to confess our faith in him it is not for his own sake but for ours. To confess our faith and offer it as worship is a good thing, and it’s right that we should do it. But what it also does is reminds us how amazing Jesus is and encourages us to be caught up in the power of his love, and to embrace the possibilities which that offers to us in our daily lives.
Think carefully about the Creed as we speak the words this morning, but think also about what Jesus means to you, and let that confession shape your lives more fully this week.
And so I leave you with this thought: if Christ were to stand before you today and ask, “Who do you say I am?” what would your honest answer be?