EP: Psalms 97, 138; Isaiah 49:1-6; Galatians 2:1-9
Peter and Paul, didn't seem to get along with each other too well. They came from very different backgrounds: Paul, from the urban, educated, elite, and Peter from a small, rural, fishing village. They both are painted in very human-ways in our Scriptures, showing all the foibles and mis-steps that all of us can relate to in some way. And Scripture itself gives us contradictory accounts of these two individuals. In our MP reading from Acts, we have Peter opening the doors of the new church, the newly minted Christian community, to Gentiles, non-Jews. But later in Acts and in a number of Paul's letters, Peter and Paul fight over this exact issue: who's in and who's not.
We will never be able to sort out these contradictions. Perhaps Peter, over the course of time in Jerusalem, changed his mind back to what it was before he had the vision he had in Joppa, once again exhibiting the pure humanness that was Peter. Or, perhaps, Paul exaggerated in his letters the level of discord he had with the disciples in Jerusalem, out of his own human jealousy of their station in the life of the new church/community.
Yet, celebrating these two seeming rivals together on one day allows us to embrace a truly Episcopal tradition: that even with our differences, we are still one, following the lead of the one to whom all our worship is directed. It can be so difficult to face people who dislike us for who we are, or for what we believe. Difficult, yes, but not impossible. And that difficulty is worth taking on, for the results prove the things that bind us as one are stronger than those things about which we disagree.
Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Art: Crosses 6 through 11, 2006, jfd+