Hello People of St. Peter Lutheran Church!
After months of preparing, I am so glad to finally be with you! The past three weeks have absolutely flown by, and Katrina and I have cherished every minute of them. Thank you for your warm welcome and grand hospitality.
As I have been getting to know Hillyard, St. Peter, and -most importantly- you all, I’ve asked myself a few times, “what’s in a name?” Who knew that Hillyard is literally Hill’s yard, where the man named Hill established a train yard?!? I surely didn’t, but now that I know, I’ve been telling everyone!
So what’s in our name? The Gospel lessons during the Sundays in August have featured our namesake. In one lesson, we heard the story of Jesus appearing to the disciples by walking on water, and Peter jumping up to join Jesus, only to sink into the waves when he became afraid. (Matthew 14:22-33) In another, Peter warns Jesus that the Pharisees are angry, and Jesus teaches about understanding God’s love for all. (Matthew 15:10-28) Most recently, Peter correctly identifies Jesus as the Messiah, spurring a response of excitement and a promise of steadfastness from Christ. (Matthew 16:13-20)
If we take seriously the idea that a name conveys more meaning than simply what one is called, I think we can draw parallels between this foremost apostle and the congregation we call home.
St. Peter Lutheran Church certainly has fervor for the Lord. It looks forward to jumping into new ministries with new interns each year. But sometimes in that excitement, it loses view of the bigger picture and can easily be lead astray. The congregation looks at the world we live in and sees many of the constraints that others put upon it, yet it faintly hears Jesus calling in the distance to return to understanding God’s love in a new and radical way. St. Peter Lutheran Church has done a good job of proclaiming Jesus Christ- his ministry, death, and resurrection- and Jesus’ promise to live in us and through us forever. But it has struggled to see what exactly that looks like on a daily basis.
This congregation profoundly understands the ups and downs of a life of faith, just as Peter the apostle knew. And it is through these ups and downs that Peter became more able to articulate and live out the love of God for all. We know how his story goes- Peter became a great leader and evangelizer in his time and place. He brought people to God who had not known God before. He did this through his experiences of life with Jesus.
My hope for the upcoming year is that we can emulate our namesake in the ups, downs, successes, and failures, always remembering that we are walking this road of life with Jesus. I look forward to walking that road alongside you as well.
May the Peace of Christ be with you,
Intern Pastor Seth