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Peter and Paul: apostles and martyrs

Sunday, 26 January 2020  | John Kidson



Master eleven sat staring at the stained glass high in the chancel of the little timber country 'Church at the Crossroads' at Tregeagle. Then, turning wide-eyed, Tom exclaimed: ‘Look Mum! They're high-fiving!’

In spite of their differing career paths, academia and primary industry, Peter the fisherman and Paul the scholar shared in common an abiding confidence in Jesus to whom they looked as Lord and Saviour. Even the casual observer could not fail to see the artist's stained glass window work as a modern interpretation of the Biblical characters in mid-greeting. Their probable difference in height may have made a high-five greeting unlikely, however their theological differences, initially quite divisive, were dealt with openly (Gal 2.11 ff) and amicably (2 Pet 3.15). Regrettably the Church seems unable to apply these qualities to its current internal differences. The 'holy kiss' injunction could well be fulfilled by prayerful, open and honest debate immediately followed by high-fives and bear hugs!

This sense of hope portrayed in the artist's work is expressive of the deep bond shared by all those who have experienced the grace of Christ. Peter and Paul came from 'different sides of the track', yet both experienced divine revelation (Mt 16.17 and Acts 9.5). Each struggled through a crisis of learning to become powerful preachers of Christ's resurrection (Peter in Acts 2.22 and Paul in Acts 17.30). Their examples of apostleship and martyrdom challenge us today.

Whether our experience is akin to Paul's 'Damascus road sudden switch' or to Peter's gradual forward/back step by sliding-step determination, let's rise to the visions and dreams that call us out of our 21st century complacency and comfortable discipleship. Any meaningful celebration of that red-letter day requires nothing less.

John Kidson is the former Chaplain at Southern Cross University, Lismore.


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