Who do people say the Son of Man is? . . . Who do you say that I am?
Matthew 16:13, 15
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Grace and Peace to you in the name of the Christ who has sent us out in his name.
After leaving the office for the day, I treated myself to a coffee and a haircut. I had just gotten a new book to help with my summer sermon series on Jesus’ parables and I wanted to read the introduction.
While at the coffee shop, I met an acquaintance I hadn’t seen for some time. I wasn’t sure I remembered his name. I sat next to him. Each of us guessed the other’s name. He guessed my name as “Warren.” After the coffee shop, I got a haircut. As the stylist was ringing me up, she asked if I was a professor at the college.
I got a good chuckle from both of these. These incidents also gave me pause to consider the importance of identity in the midst of community. Our identities help us to be known by name and our role in the community.
Peter answered that Jesus was the Christ, son of the living God. Jesus responded by changing Simon’s name to Peter and promising to give the keys of the kingdom to him. Matthew placed this incident at the foot of the mountain range that includes Mount Hermon (9,000’+). So surrounded by rock, Jesus named Simon, the rock. Rocks were dependable. Despite which regime was ruling, rocks remained and Mount Hermon remained. Compared to human striving and human life, a rock seemed eternal and immortal.
Jesus also promised the keys of the kingdom to Peter. Keys grant access to treasure. The image shows Peter with the key and a book. These represent the authority of Peter to teach the church and world about God’s kingdom.
The world needs a people who are dependable and committed to God’s kingdom. Let us continue to remember our identity as Christ’s Church and not forget it when we are misidentified as “Warren, the college professor.”
The Reverend Joseph A. Johnson