Rector’s Reflections 28th June 2009

It is always risky to rely on rumours. Our political masters have just had another lesson to that effect, though one doubts they will learn much from it. More pertinent for us today is the matter of Peter and Paul.

Each had am image of the other that was none too flattering.

Peter thought of Paul as an un-reconstructed traditionalist Jew, with a record of persecuting Christians, a zealot who had approved of the stoning of Stephen. Stories of his conversion had filtered to Jerusalem, but they were contradictory and unreliable.

Paul thought of Peter in similar terms. Two faced, he had been at the same time a reforming Christian, and a traditionalist Jew. No intellectual, Peter, in the eyes of the cerebral Paul, was given to emotional outbursts and unreliable behaviour. Not a good mix, and when they were together a bit of an explosive combination.

They each went their own way for many years, their paths seldom crossing, and each doing the work of establishing the church in different parts of the empire among different peoples.

Eventually however they both gravitated to Rome. Arriving at different times and for different reasons, they are locked together in history as co-founders of the Christian community in that city. Each brought their own insight, the combination of which became the foundation of Christianity in the western empire.

Diversity of insight and breadth of community is the lifeblood of the church. Whenever a Christian community becomes convinced it has all the answers, it begins to decline. Whenever a Christian community separates itself from the mainstream of the faith, it becomes narrow, obsessive and irrelevant. Whenever a Christian community focuses on itself it loses the will to live.

We can be thankful that our patrons were people of vision, people of hope and people of prayer. They gave us a blueprint of the way forward in times of adversity.