There are lots of stories about St. Peter at the gates of heaven. A while back I heard one about a young couple who were killed in an accident on the day before their wedding.
When they arrived at the Pearly Gates, St. Peter asked if there was anything he could do to make being in heaven even more pleasant.
They explained about dying the day before their wedding and asked if it was possible to be married in heaven.
“No problem,” said St Peter, “leave it with me.”
A hundred years or so later they met St. Peter and asked about the wedding. “Everything is being arranged,” he assured them.
Another hundred years passed, and they met St. Peter again.
They reminded him about the wedding and said, “We know that in heaven, time is of no consequence, but we have been waiting over two hundred years.”
St Peter replied, “I am sorry. All the arrangements were made the day after you arrived and there is only one thing preventing us from having the wedding is that we are waiting on a minister!”
In our gospel text for this Sunday from Matthew 16, Peter has just confessed that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” (vs. 16). In verse 19, Jesus says “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 shall be loosed in heaven.”
The Roman Catholic Church has interpreted this text to mean that they, as a church, have the keys to the kingdom. But, what are the keys to the Kingdom?
Luther in reflecting on this text said that he believed that forgiveness of sins is the key given not to Peter alone, but to the church and that “no matter how gravely and often one may sin; and that such forgiveness continues as long as this one community exists.”
No matter how many stories you hear about St. Peter holding people back at the pearly gates, it is in fact God’s mercy that is the Key to the Kingdom. Hold fast to the truth that the Son of the Living God is the revealer of the mercy of God.
Inspired by God’s Grace we can follow Paul’s direction in Romans 12 and not to be conformed to this world, but to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice for God’s mission. The great power and mercy of God, allows us to be confident that no matter what is going on around us, “the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18.
Grace and Peace,
Reminder, Nelson Hall continues to work with Pastor Bunge to call on our members to see if you have prayer concerns. They will be held in confidence unless you would like us to share them with the congregation for their prayers.
Carol Jenson, who was by church on Monday for a food delivery would appreciate prayers for her daughter and granddaughter, Hannah, seeking employment after college, in this difficult time.
Bonnie Strack’s son, Brendan is in a nursing facility with a serious health condition. Nelson and Karen’s friend, Mike, is disabled and on dialysis.
Also, on dialysis is a friend of Jan Wheeler and Burrel Woodring, Allen, who is just in his 50’s.
Also, continue to pray for our members: Becky Malinowski being treated for a reassurance of cancer. Bill Martin recovering from two falls and COVID, he may be home next week.
In other NEWS from FAITH
We met again outside for our 9 am worship. It was quite pleasant at that time of the morning with a gentle breeze. Thanks to all those who assisted before and after the service — Joe Koenig, Eloise Johnson, Connie Bunge, Tom Ziech, Irm Jennings and Steve and Sharon Cady, who are back in town now.
Much appreciation to Tom who fixed the watering system for the flower boxes and flower garden by the offices and the plants are springing back to life. You can see them in the background of the videos.
We would love to have you join us, but you can catch the service on our Facebook site, Website or the YouTube link I send out later on Sunday mornings. Sorry about the headless pastor last week. We will see if we can get his handsome face in the video this coming week.
Thanks to the Joe and Joel Keonig team who jumped in to continue with the painting around the church, especially in the pantry and around the bathroom and office areas.
Also, a big THANK YOU to Joe and Joel Keonig who meticulously were able to piece back together the stained-glass window that was broken in the Sanctuary. It is the alpha/omega depiction.
Again, thanks for your gracious offerings to continue the FAITH ministry.
The outside metal structure, which held the concrete lattice work and allowed access to the roof, was removed this Saturday. Hopefully, that will resolve the homeless encampment on the flat roof around the sanctuary of the church.
We continue our outreach to the community. This Saturday, we will again feed those in need and five days a week we allow the NA groups to continue to meet outside in the courtyard (in compliance with COVID regulations).
Love to you all – stay safe! Pastor John