Names, names, names – any good at them???
With me: in one ear, out of the other, and I do try, but in trying I seem to make things worse.
Partly, I blame other people –
‘Hello, I’m mumble mumble mumble:
Partly I blame my ancestors for having so many children -
I had loads of aunts and uncles, lots of cousins….
You know cousin Joan, my mum will say...
What, the one at Knebworth? I’ll respond
No, no, no, she’ll reply:
THE cousin Joan; from Watford
The one married to Peter……….ah, the book publisher with Nelson’s
No, no, no, she’ll reply not THAT cousin Peter, no you’re confused.
Peter, cousin Joan’s husband, the police inspector…….
And therefore, partly, I have to blame our Lord:
Making Peter a popular name, even though no-one knows the joke anymore – they still know about the name and even though not in the top 10 of names nowadays it features highly in the titles of churches and cathedrals throughout the world: most famously in the church of St Peter’s in Rome.
Funny how a joke name, a nickname stuck so well that thousands of years later people still call their children after a fisherman from Palestine who went on to become the first Bishop of Rome.
Cephas (known as Peter) means rock: Cephas in Aramaic; petra in Greek.
Names remain so important: we grow into our names.
Here, Jesus gives Peter a name to grow into. A name to challenge him and to stretch him, a name that will inspire him to great things.
Contrast this with Judas; a name now synonymous with treachery; what did Judas do? Betray Jesus.
What does Peter do? Betray Jesus: at least three times. And what becomes of the pair of them? One hangs himself; one becomes the founder of the early church and we might want to pause and reflect on that small fact..........
Yet when all has been said and done Jesus proves himself right; Peter goes on to greatness, personally and to even greater things for the early church of Christ.
Jesus chooses well; Peter drags the disciples back together after the crucifixion. He leads the early missionary journeys into the near east and then into Europe and finally Rome itself. Somehow, from being a ragtail and bobtail group of disheartened followers of a crucified renegade the Disciples of Christ form a new faith group.
In the teeth of local and national opposition something new comes from God and establishes itself on earth. The Holy Spirit moves to bring the message of salvation to all people. A message of hope and joy that remains to this day a source of inspiration and comfort to so many.
And in doing so it chose an ordinary man; a fisherman; to lead this enterprise. By no stretch of the imagination should this have worked. Not ever, but somehow it did, and our Lord’s prophecy comes true.
The church of Christ is built on the rock that is Peter. Certainly to our surprise and I suspect much to his surprise as well. But built it was, and built it is. Which just goes to show that all things become possible with the spirit and with faith.
And we can all learn from that..........