the penultimate WORD
Series 1998 - St. Peter Canon Jim Irvine
Thanksgiving on the Anniversary of a Parish 


1 Peter 2: 1-5, 9-10 Thanksgiving on the Anniversary of a Parish

The patio area of the church is framed by stones selected by the architect in charge of the restoration of the building and strategically placed by him. Some have not understood the deep meaning behind this gesture. Some have thought of it only in a cosmetic way, part of the general landscaping. But that is not the case. The inviting entry gently suggests that we reflect on ourselves as the Faith Community drawn together for worship...

Steven Flood, the architect for the project was familiar with his New Testament and in particular, the epistles or letters of Peter. It is from the first letter of Peter that the second reading is taken todayÖ

"Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation ó if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

"Ö Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in Godís sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

"Ö But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, Godís own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light." New Revised Standard Version

We are reminded by Peter to recognize that Jesus is a living stone. Remember when Jesus called Cephas to follow him and changed his name to Peter, petros, Rock? Well, this Peter recognized that in some way whatever Jesus was affirming in him was nothing more than the reflected nature of the Rabbi from Nazareth for whom Cephas had left his fishing nets.

And as he sees in Jesus the material for constructing a temple fashioned for Godís glory, so he sees in us, as followers of Jesus, the same character: we are like living stones!

Who would have thought it? Not Peter, certainly. And no more ourselves!

Peter had, after all, denied Jesus the night of Jesusí arrest and trial. He denied Jesus in plain sight of the Rabbi who had invited him to join him on a journey.

We have not been much better. We are quick to recognize Peterís inescapable struggle and denial. Perhaps because we see the struggle within ourselves.

Jesus saw in Peter what he could become. And Peter sees in us what we can become. That is both frightening and exciting.

It is challenging and affirming. That character has been demonstrated in the faithful generations that have worshipped here in times past. And that character continues by Godís grace, today!

Steven Flood knew that and he incorporated that insight into the design of this building. The stones that greet us bring to mind that we are to let ourselves be built into a spiritual house. That will not be imposed on us against our will.

God honours that and holds out to us a future hope.

As a holy priesthood, as a community of priests, we have an opportunity to join together to offer spiritual sacrifices here at St. Lukeís. When, as a community, we do that we are assured that our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving is acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. It is good enough!

It is good enough not simply by what we say as a community. And not simply by what we sing as a community. But by reason of our whole being: our giving of ourselves, our souls and bodies as a living sacrifice, being built into a living temple!

Copyright © 1998 James T. Irvine

Series 1998