Today I did services at All Saints (8:00am) St Giles (9:30am) and St Mary's (11:00am). It was good to see people again.
The reading was from Matthew's Gospel and was the account of Jesus announcing that his plan was to go to Jerusalem where he would face the cross. Peter responded by suggesting that this was probably less than wise - to which Jesus then uttered the immortal lines, "Get behind me Satan".
From this I drew out a number of points which I emphasised in different locations:
a) Priest-focussed religion is an attempt to keep God/chaos under control - keeping God in a box and allowing ordinary people to get on with their lives. Peter stands in this tradition and (for the best of reasons) is trying to get Jesus to temper his dangerous ideas. But Jesus is now incarnate so we need to let God be God and allow him into the centre of our lives.
b) In this story the cross represents the truths that need to be proclaimed/confronted/acted upon and Jerusalem represents the heart of human society. The church is called to deal with issues of truth where people are - not in safe corners where there are no risks. If Jesus had listened to Peter would he also have begun to temper his message to avoid antagonising the crowds/Pharisees/etc...?
c) Since this is the end of August and the beginning of a new school year this is a time for thinking about new beginnings. This story tells us about how Jesus set his face towards Jerusalem and (with courage and determination) set out on a new road. God promises to be with us and help us as we carry our own crosses and journey toward our own Jerusalems.