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Made worthy

Light for the Way seriesWe invite you to take a peek inside our weekly Light for the Way devotional series provided for staff.

By Pastor Chris Wheatley, Senior Director of Pastoral Care Services

Today, we begin our 49-day celebration of Easter. Seven weeks of exploring the most important event in the history of the world, the Resurrection of Our Lord. Seven weeks to remember that Jesus Christ has defeated death, and that in doing so, has invited each of us to join him in life that continues forever.
 
This year, by a calendar coincidence, it is also the first day of National Volunteer Week, in which we spend seven days celebrating and reflecting on the work of volunteers in our ministry. A week of recognizing and remembering how many things are only possible because special individuals are willing to give their time and talents to make the lives of elders richer and more meaningful.
 
The confluence of these two events reminds me of Peter’s encounter with Jesus in John 21. Jesus has appeared to the disciples as a group several times, and even “doubting Thomas” has been reconciled, but Simon Peter, once so close to Jesus, remains a figure with unresolved tension.  
 
Peter, while Jesus was being interrogated, tortured, and condemned, had denied Jesus three times. He had saved his own life by publicly declaring that he did not know the Lord. And now he meets Jesus and is given a chance to take it all back. Three times Jesus asks Peter if he loves him, not because he doubts the answer, but so that Peter can publicly undo each denial, one by one.  
 
Which would have been enough. Thrice denied, thrice affirmed, forever forgiven.
 
But after each answer, Jesus gives a command as well. “Simon Peter, do you love me?” Then feed my sheep. Care for my lambs. Follow me.
 
This can be a difficult text, and often it is carelessly interpreted as a form of penance for Peter to make up for what he has done. But the very questions themselves are the repentance, the reversal. The commands are something else.
 
Something that I think is best understood when thinking of the volunteers who power our ministry directly. Jesus gives these commands, known so well to those who give of themselves, not as a chance for restitution, but as an invitation. “Feed my sheep.” “Care for my lambs.” “Follow me.”
 
“Join me in the works of the Kingdom.” It is because Jesus forgives Peter that he invites him to care for those in need. It is not Peter’s chance to become worthy, but rather because he has been made worthy that he is now invited to share in the sacred task of Christ.
 
Jesus invites us, all of us, to join him in his works of love. Today we celebrate what he has done, and all those who have chosen to answer his call.
 
Pastor Chris WheatleyRev. Chris Wheatley serves PHS as Senior Director of Pastoral Care Services. He is an ordained Lutheran pastor and has served in hospice, eldercare, hospital, HIV/AIDS and congregational settings. He and his wife Nicole are perpetually outnumbered by cats and Dobermans.

The Light for the Way series provides staff with an examination of a biblical reading to deepen our focus on scripture. Thank you for engaging with this series as we seek wisdom through prayer and reflection as a Christian Ministry.

Find more in the Light for the Way series:

Love that empowers
Unshakeable faith
Get to know us: a Christian ministry
Introducing Light for the Way, a new devotional series

In addition to Light for the Way, you can find reflections, devotions, music and other resources on the Pastoral Care resources website
 

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