The table is open to all who thirst…
I AM: A Man Named Pete
Hebrew Scripture: Leviticus 19:1-2 and 9-18 NIV
Gospel Reading: Matthew 26:33-35 and 69-75 NIV
Today’s Gospel reading comes from the Gospel according to Matthew, chapter 26, verses 33-35 and 69-75 NIV. Let me tell you the story: Jesus and his disciples shared a meal together, this is not an uncommon thing, actually it is a very common occurrence, something they had done repeatedly during their time together. But this meal was different than the others. This meal was a special celebration, an observance of a special event. This was their Passover celebration (the day Jews celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread—some of you might remember that this was the meal that the Jewish people cooked in a hurry prior to Moses leading them on a long trip out of slavery)
During that dinner two stand out things occurred:
1-Jesus talked about a man who would betray him… and Judas sat at the table with him and Jesus KNEW. And though Jesus knew his betrayer, he shared a meal with him. And
2-As they talked around the table, Jesus took the bread, gave thanks and broke it as he shared the bread with his disciples he said: take and eat, this is my body. Then he picked up a cup and after giving thanks once more, he shared with them and said, DRINK – ALL OF YOU! This is my blood of the covenant POURED OUT FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS. This is the last meal we will share together until I meet you in my Fathers kingdom.
When they finished eating, they left to the Mount of Olives, and again Jesus talked of those who would betray him, this time one who would deny him. And Peter said, Not me Jesus! I would never do that… But Jesus knew. God knew.
Have you ever felt like you weren’t good enough to be used by God? Have you ever wondered about your worth? Have you ever felt like you were fighting an uphill battle? Or as Rev Day would say: Have you ever Considered Working for God?
YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I told you that I was asked to tell you about my trip to Indonesia, but before I can do that I have to tell the truth. I have always considered working for God. Really! When I graduated high school I was accepted into Roanoke College’s Christian Studies Department. But I did not go. See, I didn’t think I was good enough. I didn’t think I was worthy. I felt like I was fighting an uphill battle.
To be HONEST… I had been told that I wasn’t good enough to call myself a Christian. Much less to think about working for God. In 1995 my guidance counselor explained to me that he did not really think I was cut out for college much less seminary. And at the time, I believed it.
I can’t say I was like Judas and knew I was going to betray Jesus, but I wasn’t willing to try. And I can’t say I was like Peter and was willing to at least lie and say that I’d never deny Jesus, but I wasn’t willing to try.
So instead I did lots of other things! And most of my experiences, I am not willing to share. But let me tell you a secret… I AM a man named Pete. I have not walked this walk alone. My Creator has been with me all along. And if God could walk with me where I walked, he is for sure walking with you as well.
Last year at this time I was a Seminarian, studying at Hartford Seminary and in the process of completing my transfer application to Andover Newton Theological School in Massachusetts. Some of those fears and feelings of inadequacy were falling away. Enough that I was daring to dream big. I mean, if I could be accepted to Seminary, what other things could God do?
I put together my application for a special grant, one that would require that I step completely out of my comfort zone. A fellowship to do research on a topic of my choosing… If you want to know what I learned talk to me later! What I found in Indonesia though, is that when God has a plan for you, the table is set. The bread and the wine are already there, everything is prepared for you.
When I arrived in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, after a 32-hour commute my plane was 6 hours late. No one knew to meet me at the airport. I had no phone to reach out to my contacts, there wasn’t a pay-phone. Oh did I mention that I don’t speak Indonesian?
But I met a lady working at a booth, who understood that I needed to call someone. I reached my destination. But that is not the surprising thing. That came the next day over a shared meal at the cafeteria. I met a man who invited me to speak at his church that Sunday, and low and behold, it was the same church I had planned to attend!
I was welcome there. As I am welcome here. As we are each welcome at God’s table. This sacred table, whether it is in a cathedral, a park, a Buddhist, Confucius, or Hindu temple, a mosque, a parking lot, the side of the road, the creator is there to welcome us. Just as we are.
Because the most beautiful part to me of Judas and Peters story, is that Jesus welcomed them at the Sacred Table just as they were. He didn’t ask them to be anyone other than who God had created them to be. Amen.
Song: Peter by Urban D / He Knows My Name by Israel (the one with children)
Prayer (taken from In Spirit and In Truth Prayers to the Holy Spirit):
God, of grace and holiness, send upon us today your Holy Spirit as you sent the Spirit upon the apostles on the day of Pentecost, so that our prayers and our deeds may bear witness to this desire which possesses us: We wish to be one, Lord, so that the world may believe that we belong to you. Fill us now with your love [en sobre abundancia. Amen.]