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Flesh and blood have not revealed this to you.

Our Gospel reading for this Sunday, August 27, 2023, is Matthew 16:13-20. In it Jesus asks his disciples who people think he is - for which there are lots of answers. And then Jesus asks them who they think he is, and Peter says, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God!"

Right you are, Peter. And you didn't come up with that one all by yourself, did you? Such faith is a gift!

Noting Peter's proclamation, Jesus then says, ""Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

This text is a big deal. The Roman Catholic Church understands it to establish the primacy of Peter among the disciples, and so the Office of Pope - the first bishop among others. Protestants (read "Martin Luther") disagreed. Protestants understand the importance of this text to be in revealing that true faith is a gift which all might receive equally. And the "keys of the kingdom of heaven"?! They are ours, all equally to use and apply to life in a broken world. We are all called to preach. We are all called to forgive. We are all called to baptize and celebrate the Supper. 

That said, I want to focus this Sunday on the work of "binding and loosing."  What are we locking up in prison? What powers or persons might we want to handcuff or tie up? And given that we are keepers of spiritual powers and not civic or legal powers, what do we even mean by using this language?

"Binding" is hard. "Loosing" makes much more sense intuitively. Do all you can to let Jesus loose in the world around you for the next few days. That's fun. Then, I'll hope to see you Sunday and we can talk about the rest.

Pr. Dave Brauer-Rieke

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