“Jesus said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’” From Matthew 16:13-20
I had a mentor who, whenever she would convene a group for reflection or meet with someone individually, would often ask during the conversation, “Who do you need God to be for you today?” At first, I found the question perplexing. Wasn’t God just God? What possible control did I have over how God would choose to show up? Over time, I really came to love the question. It was a way to identify what state I was in. Did I feel vulnerable? Maybe, God needed to be my protector. Was I tired and unmotivated? Maybe, I needed God to be my motivator. Was I hurt? Maybe, I was longing for a comforter.
Now obviously, just by naming who I needed or wanted God to be wasn’t a guarantee that God would show up in that way. But over time, it also helped me expand my sense of the many ways God can and does show up. I can look back over the day and name when I sensed God’s presence. Like any relationship, there were many layers as to how things might unfold in any given day. Maybe, I found God in an unexpected phone call from a friend. Maybe, a moment of beauty reminded me of my connectedness to creation. Having a simple reflection question of who I was longing for God to be in my life was helpful in deepening my relationship to God and to others. It made me wonder what others might need or want from their relationships with God and their church community.
In the Gospel text for this Sunday, the disciples are trying to figure out who Jesus is to them. They have several likely suspects. Peter though, sees clearly that Jesus is the Messiah. Later in the same passage, he will be called the rock of the church. So, something about recognizing Jesus also allows us stay clear about what the church is meant to be about. We have some important opportunities to reflect on that together this fall. Be on the lookout in your mailbox for a letter outlining those opportunities and how you can participate. It will also have an important listing of our major events for the coming program year.
We are invited to be intentional about how we spend our time. My hope is that the St. Mark’s community is one that is foundational in your life. What do you need church and your relationship with God to look like? This age old question is important, and I’m curious how you might answer it today.