Clergy Notes — Sixth Sunday After Pentecost, July 9, 2023

Thirty years or so ago now, I guess, Janet Hodgson, the Durham (England) Diocesan Missioner, hosted a travelling workshop around the diocese, Images of Christ.  In a meeting room she would set up a table and cover it with photos of representations of Christ in works of art – maybe a couple of hundred or more.  There were nativities; epiphanies; baptisms; miracle, preaching and teaching scenes; the agony in the garden; the betrayal and arrest; crucifixions and resurrections; good shepherds; contemporary images.  Participants were invited to walk around the table, to reflect on the different images, and then choose the one which spoke most to them about Jesus, who he is, what he meant to them.  Then in small groups we were invited to share our thoughts on the image we had chosen.  This led to quite an in-depth conversation about our faith, our understanding of Jesus, how we relate to him, and how we see his relationship with us.  It enabled us to tell our faith stories.  Janet wrote this up in her 2011 Seeing Our Faith: Creative Ideas for Working with Images of Christ.

There is a resonance here with Peter’s Confession of Faith in the Gospels (Matthew 16, Mark 8, Luke 9).  Jesus asks the disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ You will recall they give various answers:  ‘Elijah, Jeremiah, one of the prophets, John the Baptist.’  Then Jesus asks, ‘Who do you say I am?’  Peter responds, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’

I invite you to find some time this week to reflect on who Jesus is for you.  The hymn I have chosen for Reflection this week, ‘To the name of our salvation’, may be a helpful preparation or conclusion for this exercise.

You might want to gather some images – from the internet, icons or pictures you have at home – and ask yourself how they show Jesus to you.  A nativity might speak of vulnerability, of tenderness; the good shepherd demonstrates Jesus searching for and protecting us; a crucifix portrays the depths of Christ’s love for us and for the creation; the road to Emmaus how he reveals himself to us in the breaking of the bread.  I could go on, but it’s your reflection, not mine!

Then look at the Gospel passage, Matthew 16.13ff.  Imagine yourself there amongst the disciples, with Jesus asking you directly, ‘Who do you say I am?’  Then let him know…

Every blessing,
Fr Kevin

Download the Liturgy at Home booklet for Sunday, July 9, 2023