Saturday, 16 April 2011

Peter's Story: A Maundy Thursday Narrative

The charcoal fire glowed
as it threw its warmth
against the crisp cold
of the early dawn.
It glowed a deep gold-red
radiating out
yet drawing Peter’s eyes in,
sucking them in
consuming them
and filling them
with tumultuous memories.

Staring deeply
into the embers
Peter tried to trace
the events of the night.
It seemed only moments ago
that the other disciple
had brought him inside.
The woman
who had barred his way
asked as he passed by,
“You are not also
one of this man’s disciples,
are you?”
The red glow of the fire
hid Peter’s shame
as he recalled the question
and his answer.
How quickly was he ready
to deny his friend, his master?
“I am not.”
He had replied.

“I am not.”

How could I not?
Peter thought
As his mind drifted back
to the day
that Andrew had come to him
so excited,
“I have found the Messiah,
come and see?”
Of course Peter had followed.
Back then he was known as Simon
but in that first encounter
something strange occurred.
Jesus had looked at Simon
and said,
“You are Simon Son of John.
You are to be called
which means Peter.”
Simon had known
in this moment
that Jesus in some strange way
had chosen him.

No longer Simon but Peter
he had followed Jesus
and he had followed so closely.
Days of walking
through the countryside,
from village to village.
trying to make sense
of the Master’s words and actions.
The confrontations
with the Pharisees and Scribes always there,
a danger to everyone.
Peter had thought
he would have followed Jesus anywhere,
but the glowing embers spoke of his betrayal.

It was good
that he was alone now
with his shame.
After the other disciple
had convinced the woman to let him in
he had stood by the fire
with some of police and a few slaves,
waiting, waiting
not really knowing what for,
The others had been speaking among themselves
and then one noticed Peter’s presence
and stared long and hard.

“You are no also one of his disciples
are you?”
“I am not.”
The lie came so easily.
“I am not.”
Peter’s mind drifted back
into the charcoal dreaming.
It was only hours ago
that they had reclined around the table
sharing the meal together.

Jesus was teaching them as always. Then
in a moment of perversity
Jesus had shed his cloak
and taken a bowl and water
to wash the disciples’ feet.
Only the lowest slave would have been asked to do such a thing.
Peter had thought he had gone mad
and seeing his Master tried to refuse.
But Jesus had told him
that he did not understand.
How often had he not understood what Jesus was up to?
“You do not know what I am doing,
but later you will understand.”
Still, Peter tried to deny Jesus,
“You will never wash my feet.” He had asserted.

Then those words,
“Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”
“Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”
Peter recalled his response,
was he pushing the point,
“well what about my hands and my head.”
Peter had not understood
and his words had betrayed him again.
Jesus rebuked him, then
“You are clean but not all of you.”
Would Peter ever understand?
Peter had travelled with Jesus so far
and for so long and still he was confounded.

The night had been full of confusion.
voices in the dark.
Then burning torches
and soldiers
and priests
and Judas.
People milling and pushing
In the flickering light.

“Whom are you looking for?”
Jesus words had rung like a command.
“Jesus of Nazareth.”
They had said.
There was no denial
just those simple words
“I am he.”

Silence had descended on the crowd,
many fell to their knees.
“Whom are you looking for?”
Jesus asked again
and again the words, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
Peter had thought
surely that was Judas beside him,
he will do something.
But Jesus confirmed his identity a second time,
“I have told you that I am he.
So if you are looking for me let these others go.”

Peter’s mind had raced
and fear and dread overtook him.
Peter knew he had to do something
they were going to take him away.
They were going to take Jesus.

In Peter’s mind he replayed the scene again and again.
It was as if someone else had drawn the sword
As if someone else had lashed out.
Blood had splattered
and then poured freely from where the slave’s ear had been.
Malchus: he was only a slave,
why him, he was innocent.
The blood seeped into Peter’s vision
and mingled with the glow of coals in the fire.

Peter shut his eyes against the red condemning light.
But through the darkness
he could still see the face of Malchus’ cousin at the fire.
“You are no also one of his disciples are you?”
“I am not.”

“I am not.” “I am not.” “I am not.”
Thrice condemned the cock had crowed
and the words had coming flooding back.
“Lord, why can I not follow you now?
I will lay down my life for you.”

Jesus words were fulfilled
“Will you lay down your life for me?
Very truly, I tell you,
before the cock crows,
you will have denied me three times.”

“I am not.” “I am not.” “I am not.”

Thrice denied, thrice condemned.
The red glow of goals could not warm the cold in Peter’s heart
And still the memories came.

He had heard Jesus
that day when the Greeks had come seeking Jesus.
Andrew and Philip had come with a message
these Greeks want to see you
Jesus had started speaking of his death.
On that day he had said,
“Whoever serves me must follow me,
and where I am,
there will my servant be also.”

Peter’s mind raced.
They had all failed him,
each and everyone one.
He had failed him.
Jesus was alone now.
No friends to comfort,
no disciples to share the pain.
Jesus was being tortured
and all of those words that Jesus had spoken
were beginning to fall into place.
Jesus was to be put to death.
Betrayed and deserted
by even his closest followers.
There was nothing to be done now,
just mourn.
The red coals,
The deep blood red coals
screamed of Jesus fate.
More blood would be spilled on this day.
Peter wondered what it all meant.
There was little sense in anything any more.
Numb and confused,
condemned by his denial,
Peter rose and walked away
aimlessly, hopelessly
away from the dying coals.


In the days to come
Peter’s eyes would be opened again
as Jesus drew him back in.
Forgiven, restored, renewed
Thrice Peter had denied his Lord,
Thrice he had hidden
Yet thrice on a beach
Jesus would ask his friend
do you love me,
and Peter would once again
bask in the warmth of Jesus love and say,
“Master, you know that I do.”
“Master, you know that I do.”
“Master, you know that I do.”

By Peter Lockhart.
You are welcome to use this as a worship resource.

1 comment:

  1. This is fantastic. How do you write such an amazing piece? Well done...