Last year I created a series of 3 self portraits for our church’s stations of the cross Lenten art display. They were entitled “I don’t know you.” [You can come to our church to see them and other provocative art work hanging in our hallways.] We find it easy to critique Peter for his denials of Jesus when the pressure became too great, but if I am honest I would have to say that I do the same on a regular basis. This thought inspired the art pieces.

This year I managed to deny Jesus in a small but tangible way in my Lenten practices [not to mention the rest of my life]. For many years our family has given up dessert for Lent. We are not legalistic about it and to make it easier we have celebrated the resurrection every Sunday [since the 40 days of lent do not include Sundays]. Our young adult children are on their own and they have dropped the dessert idea and have developed their own practices that are meaningful to them. Our youngest son also decided to rebel and gave up computer games instead of dessert. My wife and I continued the old tradition but it has become stale. We found excuses and devious methods of getting around it. We became poor examples of pharisees. I suppose we could say we taught our children well and now they are teaching us!

My son Adriel continues the tradition this year of identifying with Peter. He wrote the following to be delivered on Good Friday morning at our church’s worship gathering. He is not only doing Lent better than his old man but writing poetry that exceeds anything I’ve ever done [proud father here]. The profound thing about the poem is the identification with Peter and his denial to be sure, but also the word of hope that Jesus uses this same Peter on which to build the church. I am thankful for Christ’s message of grace and forgiveness in that he also gives me a role in the church despite my repeated denials.

I am the betrayer.

I am the weak.

The liar.

The violent.

I am the rock, upon whom the church will be built.

I am Peter.

I was there:

His friend; his brother; his servant.

On his deathbed, his final hours,

He called to me,

And James, and John.

His final hours:

“Stay here and keep watch with me?”

In agony;

Alone,

He prayed—

For we were asleep.

Could we not watch with him for one hour;

On his deathbed,

Pray with him?

“He is at hand that doth betray me.”

Nay,

“I shall lay down my life for thy sake;”

Yet,

“Verily, verily, I say unto thee,

The cock shall not crow, til thou hast denied me thrice.”

I am the blind,

The deaf.

“He is at hand that doth betray me.”

Nay Lord!

I shall not pray
with you.

I shall not sit with you,

On your deathbed,

In your final hours!

I shall take action.

Wherefore I sleep,

Wherefore I rise,

I lent him not mine ear.

“Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake?”

Nay Lord,

I shall flee.

“He is at hand that doth betray me.”

“I know not what thou sayest.”

An oath,

“I do not know the man.”

Yea,

Even I curse and swear,

“Goddamn,

I

Know

Not

The man!”

Of whom do I speak,

O Simon,

O Rock,

O Peter?

Of whom do I speak?

“He is at hand that doth betray me.”

I am he.

And I shall weep.

Bitterly,

From beyond the walls.

I could not watch with him,

On his deathbed,

In his final hours.

I could not stand with him,

When the kiss came:

“Hold him fast.”

I could not be for him,

Outside the walls,

In the morning.

I am he:

The rock, on whom the church will be built.

I am he:

Whom Jesus loved.

And yet I slept.

Advertisements