“Inspire Joy: Hear the Good News” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell

August 27th,2020 Categories: Stephanie Kendell Letters, Weekly Letter
Beloved Church,

I hope that you have all found ways to seek joy during this week. I know things are challenging – and that is putting it lightly- but I want to say how proud and grateful I am to see you all showing your love of neighbor by wearing your masks and staying inside and joining us for worship online every week. I know it’s not ideal for most – although a surprising amount of you have shared your love for this new platform – but just know your church is missing you too. I hope that you will continue to seek out community where you have time and energy by joining us for our many spaces of fellowship. All our gathering times can be found online and are open to all!

This week we continue in the book of Matthew and Jesus preparing the Disciples for what comes next. I don’t know about you, but all of this warning talk is oddly reassuring in times that feel, let’s say, less than planned. So, as Jesus travels with the Disciples and tells them all about the rest of their journey together, I have found myself paying closer attention to these well-known texts. What information is he giving them – and us – in preparation for a life where we don’t always see him? In what ways has Jesus prepared me for challenging work? What are the expectations I have vs. the expectations that Jesus has for times like these? Let’s hold the sacredness of these wonderings together as we continue to read from Matthew chapter 16.

From that time on, Jesus began to explain to the disciples that he must go to Jerusalem, to suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and religious scholars, and that he must be killed, and on the third day raised to life.
Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Rabbi!” he said. “This will never happen to you!”
Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get yourself behind me, you Satan! You are trying to make me stumble and fall. You’re setting your mind not on the things of God, but of mortals.”
Then Jesus said to the disciples, “If you wish to come after me, you must deny your very selves, take up the instrument of your own death and begin to follow in my footsteps. (Matthew 16:21-24)

I have read and studied this passage often and this week was the first time I ever sat with the question, “Did Peter hear the Good News?” Jesus tells the Disciples his next steps, from suffering, to betrayal, to the resurrection.  And Peter immediately reacts and tells Jesus “never!”

Did he not hear the Good News? What was going on in Peter’s head and heart that all he heard was his participation in the system and not the Good News of God’s liberation from death?

Jesus tells the Disciples about the resurrection and I’m sure it wasn’t a throwaway line such as, “Hey guys the fishing is good today and also I’m going to die but don’t worry brb.” In fact, I’m not sure there is a conversation where that isn’t the main focus- or at least worthy of follow up questions – yet that is the reaction of Peter to this news. He only hears the bad news and his part in it.

Friends, our scripture this week reminds us to hear the Good News for all and not just the news that involves us. What are things we can do this week – either in our personal or communal life- that helps us hear the Good News of Jesus in its entirety? What do we need to do to make sure our response to the resurrection isn’t “never!” but “always!” I’m not sure of your answer to that question but for me, repeating it is always helpful. So, for those of you who need to hear this today, here you go. The resurrection of Jesus isn’t dependent on our actions, but the resurrection of humanity is.

Shalom Y’all,
Rev. Stephanie

A quick prayer for your week: O Lord, help me hear your good news. Amen