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Our son Heath's middle name, Morrison, comes from my great-great grandfather. Romulus Morrison Tuttle was a captain in the 94th North Carolina regiment, we was wounded four times in the civil war, including at Gettysburg. In the course of the war he, ‘got religion,' enrolling at Davidson College, then Union Seminary. Upon his graduation in 1872 he was called to the Prospect Presbyterian Church down in Mooresville, where he served until October 1875. My dad was doing some family history research some years back and scrounged up some session minutes from his tenure at Prospect. Ole' Romulus was a product of his time, and sessions in those days didn't spend as much time hearing committee reports and looking over financial documents. They took their charge of church discipline quite seriously.
For a moment Peter was on top of the world. After all of the time the disciples had to watch Jesus, to wonder what was going on in this man filled with grace, with power, in a way none of them had ever seen, Peter got it. As they moved into Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" He was getting the pulse of the crowd. "Hmmm...," they said, "John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, one of the prophets?" But Jesus was less concerned with everyone else. He leans in. But who do YOU say that I am? And he stood there for a moment, waiting....
“I will give you the keys of the kingdom,” Jesus said to the founders of the Christian church, “and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:19)
On this Sunday, as we ordain and install new officers of the church, who work along with the pastors and staff of the church to determine and do God’s will for Westminster Presbyterian Church, it is fitting to remember the big responsibility that has been laid in our laps. Jesus gives us the keys, but we still have much responsibility to do what is right.
Three of Westminster's youth preached on Youth Sunday.
In Paul's letter to the Philippians, he is in a far away place, but he says the he prays for his community whenever he remembers them.
"Before the Gospel is a word," Frederick Buechner writes, "it is a silence."1
It was silence that Jesus needed so desperately. For chapters now in Matthew Jesus has been on the go - town after town, crowd after crowd, everyone had been demanding things of him - that he inspire, that he heal, that he teach, that he offer something so different, so new, so perfect. On top of the exhaustion he got terrible news - John the Baptist, his cousin and partner in ministry, who had announced Jesus' own coming, held his shoulders as he thrust him under the waters of the Jordan River, was dead. King Herod had John beheaded in prison. Word got back, Jesus overcome with grief. He tried to get away, as we heard in last week's text, but the crowds pursued him. The disciples tried to protect him but Jesus, having compassion for the people, blesses the five loaves and two fish they bring, transforming it into a meal for thousands.