have you ever got it wrong?

Dear Friends

As I write I’m looking out on the most gorgeous sunset and it’s a balmy 23 degrees. We’re taking a short pre-Christmas break staying with some friends on the wonderful island of Cyprus. Yesterday evening we were treated to an evening out to a local musical called ‘The Rock’. This wasn’t anything to do with some fearsome wrestler or a guitarist from some heavy metal band, no, it was the story of St Peter and his journey from fisherman to Christ’s closest follower. Jesus said to Peter “Simon, you shall be called Peter and on this rock will I build my church.” And he did!
Funny thing is, Peter was way far from being perfect. In fact like all of us he was flawed in many ways. He was a rough and ready fisherman, sometimes abrasive, sometimes rude, sometimes, (in fact lots of times) jumping to the wrong conclusions and saying or doing the wrong things (ring any bells?). So why would Jesus choose someone like him to be the leader of this new church that was about to emerge after his death and resurrection?
What came across very powerfully in the musical was the relationship between Jesus and Peter. Even with all his flaws and faults Jesus loved Peter, he loved him for who he was, where he had been and what he was. He saw the true potential that existed deep within Peter and he was determined to help him realise that potential. He did it in and through a deeply personal relationship with this rough and ready fisherman. Peter went on to become one of the founding fathers of the Christian faith and was not shy in proclaiming Jesus was God’s son.
At this time of the year I guess we are all busy preparing for the Christmas season with all its attendant shopping for presents for food and drink for Christmas trees and all other good stuff. Just take a moment, close your eyes and strip away all the sentimentality of Christmas and see it for what it really is. A young peasant girl probably only 15 or 16 years old and her young husband. Weary and tired from a long journey, heavily pregnant and giving birth in a smelly old stable populated by various livestock. Why? Why not some rich royal family in a palace or at least a wealthy businessman’s home? Why choose such a lowly place to give birth to God’s son?
I guess the fact of the matter is that God isn’t interested in wealth or status or position. He’s only interested in the heart and what’s really there. Like Peter we are all deeply flawed in one way or another, we all mess up, jump to the wrong conclusions, suffer from anxieties and fears, make poor decisions etc., but none of that stuff can or ever will stop God from loving us or seeing the true potential buries deep within us. For sure he will want to help you sort it and change it – for the better. Who wouldn’t want that? Peter did!
So, this Christmas may I invite you to come along to one of our Christmas services. Come and meet the man born in a stable who grew up, lived and died and lives again for you. Who loves you no matter who, what, where or how you got where you are now.
With every blessing for a peaceful, joyful Christmas time for you and your family and friends.
Revd Arthur
Vicar, St Gabriel’s