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  • Writer's pictureDJ V

Weekly Liturgy : August 21-27

Christ Gives the Keys of the Kindgom to Peter, Bertel Thorvaldsen ©1817
Christ Gives the Keys of the Kindgom to Peter, Bertel Thorvaldsen ©1817

Matthew 16:13-20


Peter and Jesus Affirm Each Other

13-14 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist but others Elijah and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 

15-17 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my Father in heaven.

18-20 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.



Thoughts from DJ: I’ve started to realize that we cannot talk about justice until we’ve started talking about power. For example, when I think about power in my own life, it’s not often that I take stock of where I sit as a middle-class white male in America. And at no point growing up did I need to think about my physical or psychological safety in any of the contexts in which I found myself.

This would not be the case for the life of the disciples, the life of Jesus, and the life of the Christian movement for the three hundred years following Jesus’ ministry. His disciples and the Christians who learned from them were incarcerated and executed at rates similar to our African-American relatives in modern-day America.

So I ask: how much do I understand and interpret the way those disciples used their moral power for 300 years in relation to how our Black Christian siblings have used their moral power for over 300 years? 

The Spirit of God seems to reveal who Jesus was to Peter in such a specific way that Peter starts and spreads a church community movement that acted on the margins, on behalf of the poor, and with explicitly non-violent responses to the atrocities of crucifixion and death by sport. The Christian Church obviously decided it needed a reinterpretation of this passage and these words of Jesus after their merger with the Roman Empire in the 300s. To maintain status in the world, the Church turned Jesus into a leader willing to spill blood to get people to believe (conform). 

I can only believe now, that the capacity of our Black and Brown brothers and sisters to preach a gospel of love, forgiveness and nonviolence in the face of slavery, Jim Crow, lynchings, redlining, and the dismissal of affirmative action, is a prophetic rediscovery of the true Jesus. The Son of Man. The Human One. 

So what about us and what about now? Who do we say Jesus is? What do we say and do in the face of violence and invitations to exclude? It is my hope and prayer that we will have the eyes to see and the ability to sense a power deep within, and all around us, to include all people in the project human flourishing.  Let us have the mental and physical strength to resist the myth of redemptive violence, and stand in places of exclusion until there is love and acceptance.



Outward Mindset Application

Focus on solutions this week, rather than assigning blame.

Pathways Toward Centeredness

Ascetisicm (loving the world through solitude and simplicity):

Think about the foods you eat. How much of your diet is processed? Make plans to include more simple, straight-from-the-earth items to your meals this week.

Questions for Reflection

What affirmation do you most with the God of the Universe would say to you? Does a world of non-violence excite or frustrate you?


“Liturgy” refers to the habits and practices humans use to form community around shared values and meaning. At Church at the Park, we desire to be a community of practice, becoming people who see the world through the eyes of the marginalized, making meaning through the lens of pain and suffering, and committing ourselves to non-violence in a wounded world. This weekly email is intended to provide pathways of practice for becoming the type of people who embody these values.

Many of our reflections on each week's text come from other sources. If you're interested in reading more of what inspires us, here our our two favorite reflections.

Copyright (C) 2023 Church at the Park. All rights reserved.


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