As I am writing this, I am preparing my mind mentally for two weeks of holiday starting as soon as I hit “publish” (well, not right after, I still have to send some emails as well). Truth be told, I feel like I really need this break as while I have been working from home a lot these past few months, I still haven’t been around the family as much as I would like. I’ve been in the same house as them, but I’ve been holed up in my home office for much of that time.
So I plan to spend as much time with them as I can during my break (around their “screen schedule”, of course), as my role as a dad has been neglected for much too long (probably since they were born). I need to recognise that my role as their dad is just as (actually probably more) important as my role as a pastor.
That isn’t to say that I’m going to neglect all of you though! It just means that I need to take breaks from either role here and there and/or try to make them work together as much as I can. Just that this time around, I’ll be taking a break from one of those roles.
Identity is important, isn’t it? When we are identified as something, it tells us about ourselves and perhaps even our role in life. And while many identities could be similar, it could change their roles in life drastically.
Take this gospel lesson, for example. Jesus is given a short list of who people identify him as. And it isn’t a bad list, in fact it is quite flattering. He is thought to be the who’s who of bible greats and prophets. John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah have been instrumental in helping the nation of Israel to be what it is. But none of them would be identified as the Messiah. Prophet, yes. Bringer of hope, yes. Preparer of the way, sure. But Messiah? No.
Because that is Jesus. The title of Messiah comes with a lot of connotations. Saviour, for one. Redeemer, for another. Not just someone who says good things, but one who does good things and leads us into community and right relationship. Not just one who shows us God’s blessing and grace, but one who is the very embodiment of that blessing and grace. Not just a person who has a good idea of what God is about, but a person who is God in the flesh.
That is the Messiah. That is who Peter confesses Jesus to be. That is what we believe.
And this belief means something. It means that our lives are directed by love. Our paradigms are translated through a lens of grace and mercy. Everything about us is us confessing Jesus as Lord. I know sometimes (actually a lot of times) this isn’t easy. The world can be a confusing place and makes it hard for us to decide what is good and right. But one thing that I always found to be a good test of God’s will is I ask if this action is about self-preservation and power or it is about humility and service of others. Of course, it is the latter that I’m hoping we strive for as this is what Jesus strove for. He wasn’t about fame or riches, he even told his disciples not to tell anyone who he is! But he lived his life on earth in humble service and loving community.
And so this is what Peter’s confession meant. This is what our confession means. This is why we were given a Messiah to begin with, to help usher in a new world that is full of love, grace, and peace.
Have a great few weeks, everyone! I’ll see you when I get back!