Thirteeenth Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 16
August 27, 2023
First Reading: Exodus 1: 8-2:10
Second Reading: Romans 12: 1-8
Gospel: Matthew 16: 13-20
Grant, we beseech thee, merciful God, that thy Church, being gathered together in unity by your Holy Spirit, may show forth your power among all people, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, on God, for ever and ever. Amen.
To Build a Church, It takes a Village
Exodus 1: 8-2:10
Two brave women, two Hebrew midwives, Shophrah and the other, Puah, were told by the new King of Egypt, Pharaoh, to kill all newborn males born to the Israelites. He is also going to increase their labor, by killing all the newborn males he is trying to interfere with God’s promise to Abraham of numerous descendants.
These brave women, were more afraid of God, then the King, so they just would not do it.
And from this we have the story of Moses, his mother hides him in a basket in the river and he is found by Pharaoh’s daughter.
The women of the story, the mother and sister of Moses, the daughter of Pharaoh, and the midwives who earlier refused to be a part of this scheme, all become for us beacons. Stepping up to the plate, so we can have this foundation that was promised in the Hebrew scriptures.
Romans 12: 1-8
Paul’s appeal is that we not… let what is happening in the world change us to be like everyone else, but to continue to renew our minds, so that we continue to discern what the will of God is, good and acceptable and perfect.
Spiritual worship, in volves the presentation of the body, accomplished by the renewal of the mind.
We are all one body in Christ, we are all individuals and members of one another. As Christians we are to live now, being transformed from within. We all have gifts that have been given to us.
Matthew 16: 13-20
“Who do you say that I am?”
We hear Peters confession “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Simon Peter becomes the first person to make the great Christian Confession of faith. He names Jesus the Messiah, the hope of Israel, the son of the one who created heaven and earth.
Peter gets it right, He has answered the question from Jesus correctly and it is of no surprise; he is, after all, the number one disciple among the twelve.
Peter has been paying attention to the public ministry of Jesus at least for the moment.
He has observed the healings of mercy, he heard the sermons on justice, and how Jesus fed thousands with a small amount of bread. His revelation that “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” On the boat he also said, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
An important moment in the disciple’s lives, Peter is anointed by the Son of the living God.
“Blessed are you, “For the flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.”
Everything the disciples have experience with Jesus, all that they have seen, toughed, listened to, sights…. It was not just the knowledge and experience, through flesh and blood, but it was revealed that it was a revelation from God.
Whatever Jesus reveals, is what God reveals and this is also from Jesus to Peter and the disciples.
“I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heave, and whatever you loose on earth will be loose in heaven.”
“You are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church.”
This church and all churches that the Lord began with Peter, and that we are a part of, is a holy and sacred thing. It is not just a place together of voluntary like-minded people; it is not primarily or at its heart a human institution.
It is instead a dive mystery, a holy vast space today, that continuity serves Christs presence, a continuance of faith, tradition and doctrine and a connection to those who went before us.
I said earlier in Romans, The Church, the scripture goes on to say. “For as in one body we have many members and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many are one body Christ, and individually we are members one of another.”
Christians are to live now, being transformed from within, they are no longer bound by external law.
It takes all of us to build up the church in the community, it takes all of us, as disciples of Christ to grow and help the village. We have all been given gifts by Gods grace.
We need to be strong like the women Shophrah and the other Puah, recognizing who needs our protection.
The Reverend Lola Culbreath