Dramatic reading of Luke 22.31-34
Jesus: "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."
N: But Peter replied,
Peter: Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!
N: Jesus answered,
Jesus: I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today; you will deny three times that you know me."
Suggested list of hymns and songs
Oh to see the dawn
Jesus Christ I think upon your sacrifice
Purify my heart (slides 31-35)
Song: Kyrie Eleison
Over all the earth (Lord reign in me)
Who would true valour see
Lord of all faithfulness
All that I am
Jesus take me as I am
Here I am Lord
Take my life
We hold a treasure
Breathe on me breath of God
Peter did come to deny knowing Jesus three times, just as he had predicted.
It is so easy to speak without thinking under pressure and act on impulse when we are trying so hard to do the right thing. Let’s see if we can demonstrate that.…
The ‘Yes No’ challenge
Children’s story: (props needed, pole and two pots, flowers may be given to one side of the congregation, seats nearest the aisle. Then this story can be 'acted out')
A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on an end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.
For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his master’s house.
Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream.
"I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you."
"Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?"
"I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your masters house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts." the pot said.
(WEAKNESS ACKNOWLEDGED AND CONFESSED)
The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, "As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path."
Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again the pot apologized to the bearer for its failure.
TIME OF ANGUISH Come back here and look again! (come to front)
The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pots side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master's table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house." (actor puts down pots and goes to collect flowers and puts them in a vase on the altar)
PETER’S FLAWS ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO SEE A WAY THROUGH, BECAUSE OF HIS ACKOWLEDGEMENT AND HOLDING FAST
Each one of us has our own unique flaws. We're all cracked pots. We all have weaknesses. But if we will allow it, the Lord will use our flaws to grace His Father's table if we acknowledge them, and then we too can be the cause of beauty.
In our weakness God’s strength is made perfect. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
The story also tells us that sometimes because of our fallen natures and our brokenness we can, in turn, bring colour and life to the lives of others by understanding their needs and their problems better.
Dramatic reading of Luke 22.54-62
N: Then seizing Jesus, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest.
Peter followed at a distance. But when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said,
Voice 1: This man was with him!
N: But he denied it.
Peter: Woman, I don't know him.
N: he said. A little later someone else saw him and said,
Voice 2: You also are one of them!
N: Peter replied.
Peter: Man, I am not!
N: About an hour later another asserted,
Voice 3: Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean!
N: Peter replied,
Peter: Man, I don't know what you're talking about!
N: Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. (cockerel sound)
N: The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: "Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times." And he went outside and wept bitterly. Jesus words came true.
Children’s short activity; At this point provide the young children with a small ball of clay and a sheet of sugar paper for the clay to rest on. Invite them to make a pot they’re happy with.
PETER AND US
Just take a look at these two pots, which do we most resemble?
The perfect one or the cracked one? This one, the flawed one is Peter.
Peter is by far my favourite disciple. He was so very human, so predictable; so full of good intentions, making big promises of how he would serve the Lord, and yet he was weak as we all are.
Over the last few weeks of study no doubt we have discovered him to be a man with a past, impulsive, boastful and proud. But there’s no doubt that Peter had a tremendous desire to be with Jesus. There is no question that he loved Jesus with all his heart, so much so that he followed Jesus after his arrest, along with another disciple, when all the others simply ran away.
We all have weaknesses, though not many will admit to it. We're all pots with cracks.
Each of us has our own unique flaws.
We could all probably write a long list detailing them!
And if we are sitting here unable to bring any to mind, then all we need do is just hand a pencil and paper over to someone who knows us well, and they will no doubt produce a list!
We all have sinned, we’ve all fallen short of the glory of God!
The good news is that when we look at Peter and see that God was still able to use him in His service, despite his faults, then we find ourselves greatly encouraged, and we begin to believe that there is hope for us too. God still has plans for our lives.
Quote: by a man called Herman Melville
‘He who has never failed somewhere, cannot be great. Failure is the test of greatness!
If we confess our weaknesses, the Lord will use these flaws in time to somehow grace His Father's table with flowers of great beauty.
Someone once said, ‘In God’s great economy, nothing goes to waste, not even our weaknesses.’
Once we acknowledge this, we can come to see that in our weakness God’s strength is made perfect. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Jesus told Peter “…And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." And that’s exactly what he ended up doing. His commitment became more vigorous than ever.
He was first out of all of them to stand up and speak out at Pentecost.
His heart became more courageous, despite persecution and imprisonment
His faith was strong and able to command beautiful healings in the name of Jesus.
His letters in scripture became so rich on themes such as humility and service and perseverance, diligence, resisting evil and giving glory to God.
PETER AND JUDAS
At the time of Jesus' arrest, two people, not just one, let him down badly…and it’s interesting to see how each of them handled it.
This is a drama called Sift as wheat! Which recalls our first reading, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat!”
In olden days, wheat was first threshed, (beaten with a flail) to separate the good grain from the chaff. It was then winnowed, tossed in the air, shaken and tossed again and the breeze would blow away the chaff/debris, so that the grain was separated from the rest of the plant, and ready for use, either for storage, sowing or grinding into flour. The sifting process is a much-needed process for the grain to be any use. It’s interesting in this following reading that God must have ‘allowed’ the sifting process..
Sifted as Wheat : (Luke 22.31) “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you all as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
Devil: Take a letter Miss Deed. Permission has been given at long last for me to ‘SIFT THEM ALL
AS WHEAT’ And I can’t wait to get started!
Secretary: Ready sir:
Devil: Who is first on the hit list?
Secretary: Well first on your list is Judas, keeper of finances, zealot, and acquainted already with the
Devil: And his weaknesses?
Secretary: He’s passionate in his hatred for the Roman occupying force, he helps himself to the
common purse now and then, (Devil laughs) and his loyalty a bit iffy.
Devil: Likes money does he? Ideal material for a traitor! What else have we got on him?
Secretary; He’s a bit of a loner, an outsider, says what he thinks, doesn’t always consult the others,
and he’s inward looking.
Devil: Mmmm being a loner means destructive thoughts and emotions! He’ll be too ashamed to
go back to the others. With no support system in place, failure will paralyse him! He’s in the bag! Who else?
Secretary: Simon Peter.
Devil: Ha! The right hand man! The ‘rock’! Now, how do we smash him?
Secretary; This one may be a little more difficult to destroy, sir. He’s loyal, intuitive and dedicated to
his master and quite promising as a leader of men.
Devil: I didn’t ask you for his strengths, I asked for his weaknesses...( he has further to fall than
than the others.)
Secretary: Weaknesses? He acts on impulse, speaks without thinking sometimes, he is boastful and
proud and has a strong instinct for survival. He’s quite courageous... when he is focussed!
Devil: Then we must break his spirit, knock him off his perch. Break his focus. Make him deeply
ashamed of himself. That should be enough to crush him! I know! Allow him to follow
his master so far and then we’ll spring the trap. Find me a simple serving girl, and two
others...oh and we’ll need a cockerel, for special effects. Failure will paralyse this one too!
Secretary: And what about all the others sir?
Devil: Sheep without a shepherd will scatter. Let them wake up in the olive grove to chaos and
lots of noise, that should confuse them! Then we’re rid of all of them! The way will be
clear for the Great Plan to be put into effect!
Secretary; Congratulations sir! Will that be all?
Devil: For the time being yes! Get me a ring side seat. I am going to enjoy this!
Peter handled his despair quite differently from Judas!
His failure, given time, would equip him and give him strength. What can we learn from him? What was it that saved Peter?
Peter, unlike Judas, had the support of his friends and his community, he faced up to his failure, he openly acknowledged it and confessed it, (or it couldn’t have been written about in scripture) he owned it, he persisted in faith and held fast. He repented, he wept bitterly.
His dark tunnel, had an end to it!
And where was God in it? He was in the tunnel with him.
And by hanging in there and holding fast Peter was able to climb the stairs once more to restoration, and God’s purposes for him.
PETER AND JESUS
In John’s gospel account of the Denial of Peter, we see that the story is interwoven and set alongside Jesus as he is brought from the Garden of Gethsemane to the place of judgement.
We look first at one, and then at the other throughout chapter 18
Prays in the garden
ALERTNESS THROUGH PRAYER
Jesus begs his attackers to spare the others
Jesus faces an angry mob with dignity
Jesus stands firm when he is challenged
Jesus speaks the truth with great calm
Jesus is reviled, beaten and bound
Jesus is led away to death to fulfil his purpose in coming to earth, to become the sacrificial lamb.
LETHARGY / IDLENESS
Peter attacks with a sword
Peter comes up against one woman and lies
Peter cowers, with the enemies of Jesus by a fire
Peter lies again
Peter saves himself by denying Jesus a third time
Peter is free to go and full of remorse
By looking at Peter’s weaknesses, we similar patterns of the Church’s behaviour over a period of two thousand years, forever repeating lessons we ought to have learned by now,
When we look at Jesus‘ strengths we see echoes of some of the many true Christians throughout the ages who have brought a true knowledge of Jesus and his ways to us in the way they have lived with Jesus as the very centre of their lives.
When we focus upon Jesus here in this passage, we see all we could be and still can be.
Let us ask God to remind us of occasions when we have disappointed ourselves and God, and ask him to pour out the ointment of his love to these memories in a way that will refresh and restore us this morning.
Examine the children’s pottery and conclude
Prayers to follow