*Bring your car keys
So it’s my tradition, after the prayer of the day, to bring a message to all God’s children and I have something with me that I carry often in my pocket. It’s my keys. Let’s go through what is on my keys. I have a bunch of little pieces of plastic for the various reward programs that stores I attend have. They give me a special coupon if I give them permission to track everything that I buy. I have a library card, ikea card, shop rite, stop shop, and even a card for A&P grocery store which closed in 2015. I probably should throw that card out.
I also have keys for my home and keys for here at the church – like my office, the altar guild room, and the front doors in the sanctuary. And then I have these two keys – keys for my cars. Keys, for cars, are changing so these are a bit old skool. They have little buttons that will unlock doors but also this key that you insert into a door or into the engine to turn it on. You might see different kinds of keys, called FOBs, that allow you to turn your car on as long as you have it on you or in your car. So that shows you what a key does: it helps us enter the car, turn it on, and go.
Now we live in an area where having a car is sort of essential. It’s very difficult to walk to places since we don’t have sidewalks, homes are far apart, and we sometimes need to travel miles to go to school, to fields for sports, to work, and more. Not everyone lives like we do so not everyone needs, wants, or even uses a car. But thinking about what car keys do helps us lean into the story about Jesus we’re going to hear in our second reading from the Bible. Jesus and his friends are traveling around, preaching, teaching, and healing when they near the city of “Caesarea Philippi.” Caesarea Philippi was a newish city that was a very important city – and was named after the Roman Emperor whose title was “Caesar.” The city was full of soldiers, a market place, important government officials, and a lot of different religious buildings that were designed for people who didn’t believe in God. And among those buildings and statues that people thought described the different beings who controlled the universe, influenced lives, etc – was a statue dedicated to an old Roman emperor. Folks were acting and believing and treating as if even the Roman Emperor was someone with power like God or Jesus. It’s there, in sight of those buildings and the Roman military and all these things that said something other than God was in charge of it all – that Jesus asked his friends a question: who do people think I am? The disciples shared what people thought Jesus was. And then Jesus asked “who do you think I am?” and Peter said the Messiah which is a word we don’t use too often but is all about the One who makes God’s love real in our world. Jesus agrees with Peter and promises that his confession – his proclamation about who Jesus is – will be the strong foundation that the church is built on. We continue to think about, proclaim, reflect on who we say Jesus is – and Jesus keeps coming to us to remind us that Jesus is God’s love made real and how that changes the church, our lives, and the world.
Jesus then talks about keys. And the saying is a bit confusing which is why car keys might help us understand what Jesus is saying. Like how a key enables us to decide, with a car, where to go and to go there – Jesus is saying that because we know him, because of our baptism, because of our faith – we are going to jump into the driver’s seat of, like Jesus, helping make God’s love real in the world. That’s going to mean making decisions, making choices, and doing our best to know Jesus, spend time with Jesus, to pray, and to love like Jesus. And while this is a very powerful thing we get to do – it’s also a great responsibility. Jesus is trusting us – in all that we do, even if we don’t drive or don’t have car keys – to make loving decisions. That’s the freedom our faith gives us – the chance to make love, kindness, patience, hope, and mercy at the heart of everything we do because Jesus chooses each of us to, like him, make God’s love real in our world.
Each week, I share a reflection for all children of God. The written manuscript serves as a springboard for what I do. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship on the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost, 8/27/2023.