Reading Paul’s instructions on what it takes to be a disciple of Christ . . . these were words spoken to the people of the early church in Rome. But let us listen to them as Christ’s followers in 2021 – in our current context . . .
Romans 12: 3-21 (Living Bible) As God’s messenger I give each of you God’s warning: Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you. 4-5 Just as there are many parts to our bodies, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of it, and it takes every one of us to make it complete, for we each have different work to do. So we belong to each other, and each needs all the others.
6 God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, then prophesy whenever you can—as often as your faith is strong enough to receive a message from God. 7 If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching. 8 If you are a preacher, see to it that your sermons are strong and helpful. If God has given you money, be generous in helping others with it. If God has given you administrative ability and put you in charge of the work of others, take the responsibility seriously. Those who offer comfort to the sorrowing should do so with Christian cheer.
9 Don’t just pretend that you love others: really love them. Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of the good. 10 Love each other with brotherly affection and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically.
12 Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble, and prayerful always. 13 When God’s children are in need, you be the one to help them out. And get into the habit of inviting guests home for dinner or, if they need lodging, for the night.
14 If someone mistreats you because you are a Christian, don’t curse him; pray that God will bless him. 15 When others are happy, be happy with them. If they are sad, share their sorrow. 16 Work happily together. Don’t try to act big. Don’t try to get into the good graces of important people, but enjoy the company of ordinary folks. And don’t think you know it all!
17 Never pay back evil for evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honest clear through. 18 Don’t quarrel with anyone. Be at peace with everyone, just as much as possible.
19 Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God, for he has said that he will repay those who deserve it. Don’t take the law into your own hands.[a]20 Instead, feed your enemy if he is hungry. If he is thirsty give him something to drink and you will be “heaping coals of fire on his head.” In other words, he will feel ashamed of himself for what he has done to you. 21 Don’t let evil get the upper hand, but conquer evil by doing good.
In the gospels we read about the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry following his baptism by John in the Jordan River. One of the first things he did following his Baptism was to go in search of people to walk with him . . . people whom he could teach and who could take his message out to the world following his death. One of the first disciples called by Jesus is Peter. In Matthew chapter 4 we read:
“18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”20 At once they left their nets and followed him.”
So who was this man Peter who Jesus noticed at the side of the lake that day? Who was this man who would go on to become one of the most influential Christian leaders in the first century?
What we know (or at least what scholars mostly agree upon) is that Peter was born between 1 BC (before Christ) and 1 AD (or one year after Christ’s birth) in Bethsaida, Syria in the Roman Empire. He lived to about the age of 65 give or take a year or two. He was the son of John/Jona and he was married, although there is little information about Peter’s wife. He likely spoke Aramaic, the day-to-day language of the time.
Fishermen at that time were gruff, unkempt, vile, shabbily dressed, and often used vulgar language. The fishermen of the first century were a man’s man. They were full of vigor and had boisterous tempers. Theirs was a rough life since fishing was a very physically demanding job. They must have been somewhat fearless too because some of the storms that came quickly upon the Sea of Galilee were fierce and furious.
So, when Jesus approached Peter, he would have encountered a man about his own age who was likely quite physically strong. The term “rough and tumble” comes to mind as I imagine how Jesus might have experienced Peter when we met him that day on the shore.
It’s interesting that Jesus was drawn to such a man.
Peter is one of the disciples that appears in many of the stories of Jesus’ ministry. Often outspoken and sometimes speaking before thinking, Peter became the spokesperson for the twelve disciples. Perhaps that was a self-imposed position given his propensity for speaking out, lashing out and stepping out.
One minute he was walking on water by faith, and the next he was sinking in doubt.
Impulsive, emotional and always speaking his mind, Peter was often the first one to state the obvious and say what everyone else was thinking.
Peter was bold but often times in the wrong. Peter is best known for denying Jesus when the pressure was on. Even so, as a disciple, he was dearly loved by Christ, and he held a special place among the twelve.
Peter was an eyewitness to the many miracles that Jesus did and also witnessed the Shekhinah Glory along with John and James in the Transfiguration. This was where Jesus’ humanity was peeled back to reveal the glory of His Divinity.
Perhaps there is a bit of Peter in you . . . what parts of Peter’s characteristics can you relate to?
Peter’s brazenness shows that God uses even the most unwieldy people to advance his kingdom. He was one of Jesus’ most trusted companions, and as a result of what he witnessed, Peter, an uneducated fisherman, became one of the most important leaders the church has ever known. He also played a pivotal role in bringing the gospel beyond the Jewish community.
This man who was once afraid of being associated with Jesus—even if only in the eyes of a servant girl—was eventually willing to literally take up his cross and give his life for Christ. And while his teachings have likely permeated through the church over the centuries, making them hard to trace, his life still gives us a clear model of what it means to be fully devoted to Christ.
A disciple, as Peter was in the beginning, means a “follower of”. That is what most Christians actually are today. An apostle is “one sent forth” in the sense of sent forth by God to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. The biblical definition of an apostle and the only ones that are called apostles in the New Testament had to be either with Jesus during His earthly ministry (like the disciples) or having seen the risen Christ (as did Paul who was taught three years in the desert by Jesus Christ Himself).
After Christ tells the disciples about the end of the age (Matt. 24) He gives them the charge or command of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20). This is the very last thing that Jesus tells them (Acts 1:8) and from that point on the disciples (followers of Christ) become the apostles (those sent forth). The designation of their being apostles was never used until after the Ascension of Christ (Acts 1) because before then, they were still following Jesus. After Christ had ascended to the right hand of the Father and was seated there (signifying His earthly ministry was done – except through the apostles) He sent them forth to go to all ends of the earth to proclaim the gospel of the Kingdom of God.
The Apostle Paul is known as “the apostle to the Gentiles,” and he had a huge impact on the spread of Christianity . . . but before Paul started preaching to the Gentiles, God spoke to Peter in a vision, which he understood to mean that the gospel was for the Gentiles, too, not just the Jews.
Peter was the first one to preach on the day of Pentecost after the coming of the Holy Spirit and he was the first one to proclaim Christ to a Gentile. He was one of the boldest apostles of all. He willingly suffered persecution, imprisonment, beatings for the Lord‘s sake (Acts 5:41).
May we each reflect on the characteristics of the first disciples – the people Jesus chose to spread his earthly message and to continue his ministry. May their legacy inform our Christian walk in this time and place.
Connecting with God – Week #2
Scripture passage: John 13: 1-15 - Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet
13 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” 9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” 10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean. 12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
Guide for Praying Scripture
Go to a quite space . . . quiet your mind, bod and spirit.
Read the scripture passage again and again, attending to the words, until you can hold it in your heart.
Ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and an awareness of the presence of Christ.
Ask for what you desire or need from God during this prayer period.
Engage the passage through imagination or meditation.
Use your imagination to picture the passage in detail.
Experience the setting by engaging all the senses . . . what do you see, hear, smell, feel, taste?
Put yourself into the passage as a person or a thing . . . there are no rules or should, you can be anyone, even Jesus.
Speak to others and let others speak to you. Be free to go beyond what is written.
Feel and notice whatever emotions emerge for you. Meditate:
Listen to what God is saying to you.
Notice the words or phrases in the passage that stand out to you today.
Let the passage sink deeper and deeper into your heart.
Be aware of your feelings and notice any changes in them.
Experience, rather than analyze.
Let the passage stir your own experience, associations and memories. Trust:
Take your time . . . let your mind be relaxed and open.
Listen attentively to God speaking within you right now.
Remember that what is given to you is “the Word” for you for today! Praise:
Give thanks for God’s presence and for the blessings and challenges you received. Journal:
Reflect on your experience with this passage today.
Credit goes to Week of Guided Prayer Network of Hamilton Conference, 2006
Minute For Mission Building a World Where Everyone Belongs: Lynda’s Story
Everyone belongs; that belief anchors our United Church. It’s why your Mission & Service gifts support gatherings of people who are left on the margins of society and support education events that help us learn what we can do about it.
Disability is one aspect of social justice the United Church is working on. Did you know that one in five Canadians live with at least one disability? That’s 6.2 million people. Of these, 1.2 million can’t afford aids, devices, or prescription medications. People living with severe disabilities have half the income of those with none. Seniors are almost twice as likely to have a disability as people who are of working age.
Disability is an issue that affects us all. That’s why the United Church partners with people from other denominations to raise awareness. People like Anglican disability activist Lynda Katsuno, who is widely considered a pioneer in the field.
Learn about Lynda's story and see videos by following the link:
There are immediate openings on the Leadership Team as some long-time members are stepping down. Openings include:
In addition, the position of Chair will be opening as of the next Annual General Meeting.
If you are interested or wish to nominate someone to the council, please call or email the Church Office.
The next Innerkip United Church Leadership Team Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday February 17.
2021 Offering Envelopes
Envelopes are now available. Please contact Mel in the Church Office to arrange pick up or delivery of your envelopes.
NEW - There is now a mailbox at the Hall Entrance to the Church where offerings, donations and other mail can be HAND DELIVERED to the Church Office.
(PAR donors will not receive envelopes for 2021 unless requested).
Offerings and Donations
There are contact-free ways to send offerings and donations to the Church:
HAND DELIVER your offering or donation in the NEW LOCKABLE MAILBOX installed near the Hall Entrance to the Church. This entrance is well lit and maintained (snow and ice removal). The mailbox will be checked daily, but please let Mel know if depositing Cash so it can be retrieved promptly.
MAIL your donation to the Church office: PO Box 137, Innerkip, ON N0J 1M0
Enroll in PAR (Pre-Authorized Remittance for automatic payment). Forms are available in the Church Hall or online. Complete the form and include a void cheque (credit card no longer accepted). Contact the Church office to arrange contact-free pick up or delivery and Mel will submit the forms:https://www.united-church.ca/community-faith/get-involved/give-regularly