I like this Feast Day. I like it very much.
Both Peter and Paul have their own individual Feast Days, where we celebrate who they are.
But today, we celebrate what they built, and how this church we all are a part of wouldn’t be as it is without both of their contributions, their crafting, their work.
Peter remained in Jerusalem after Jesus’ death, and led the early church there (the rock upon which Jesus built his church). He struggled with what it meant to follow Jesus and to be a Jew, how this new church could honor both, should act within both.
Paul, after his flash-of-light, fall-from-a-horse, blind-but-now-I-see, confrontation with Jesus (yes, after his death), traveled around the Gentile world, spreading the Gospel, insisting that this new church wasn’t just for those who were Jewish, but for everyone.
Can you imagine these two men, with their individual mandates from God, coming together? How impossible this new church must have seemed?
And yet – here we are.
I love our church, being a part of the Body of Christ, in all it’s evolutions and meanderings. I have heard each version, each iteration, each sect of Christianity described as like looking in through its own window into one church space, one body, one faith. Many windows. One building.
And yet, I regret that Rome’s destruction of Jerusalem as this early church was forming cut short some of this melding, this crafting, between tradition and innovation, between Jew and Gentile. I am curious as to how we would be now if that had not happened.
In honor of this Feast Day, my son and I are crafting our own churches out of graham crackers, frosting, and decorations, in the vein of making “gingerbread houses” at Christmas Time out of these materials. (Here’s an example.) We will construct new, hopefully fabulous, edible church structures. We will try some things, and when walls fall or tip, or towers tumble, we will figure out how to support and rebuild.
Then we will eat and give thanks for Saints Peter and Paul, who so carefully built and rebuilt and supported and worked to build our church.