Luke 22:61-62 Common English Bible (CEB)

61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter, and Peter remembered the Lord’s words: “Before a rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62 And Peter went out and cried uncontrollably.

Peter. His personality is so big. The stories in scripture about him point out his boldness, which sometimes misleads him. It’s easy to find people we know in that description, maybe even ourselves.

In his essay, “Turning,” Henry Drummond*, writes about this closing passage from Luke 22, ending the story of Peter’s bold, three-part denial of Jesus after his arrest. The disciple had tried to hide in plain sight and warm himself by the fire, but instead finds himself recognized repeatedly in the courtyard near the high priest’s house, where Jesus was being questioned.

Drummond points out that at the moment of Peter’s third denial, when the cock crows and Jesus’ prophecy is fulfilled, Jesus looks right at Peter… Jesus doesn’t turn away from the one who denies him, but turns toward him.

What does that mean to know that similarly, when we deny Christ with how we live or speak, how we treat others, he turns to us first, before we realize what we’ve done, and looks right at us? He sees us as we are, facing us in our worst moments, not turning his back.

Also, is it Peter’s simultaneous recognition of his own sin with the view of Christ’s loving face that drives Peter to his deep repentance? 

 This week, as we walk the final days toward Easter, where might we be denying Christ in our lives? Do we recognize Christ’s loving face looking at us, offering grace and calling us to truly follow him? Where do WE turn?

A long-standing tradition at First UMC during Holy Week is our hosting of noontime services, inviting in pastors from other downtown churches to take turns sharing the message each day. This week, we invite you to join us at 12:05 (Mon-Fri) in our sanctuary for a brief worship service, followed by lunch downstairs in our fellowship hall. We urge you to take time from your busy day to focus on Christ and community. We hope you will come away both physically and spiritually fed, and reminded that you are not alone on your faith journey.

We also invite you to our Maundy Thursday Tenebrae Service, starting at 7 p.m. March 28. This service features choir, orchestra, communion, scripture readings and diminishing candlelight, reminding us of Christ’s last hours before his death on the cross.

Easter Sunday, we will be part of Sunrise Services at 6 a.m. at Main Street Square, as well as having 8:00, 9:30 and 11 a.m. services at First UMC, 629 Kansas City Street.

*As we enter into the final week leading up to Easter this year, we share some thoughts based on short writings from an assortment of notable authors in “Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter” from Plough Publishing House, copyright 2003.