Clergy Comment September 2018 – Winning and Losing
I remember a conversation I had back in the 1980s, with a friend who early on was chosen to be ordained. He’d always found his university course very hard and despite the effort he put in, was expected to get a third class degree. I bumped into him just after he’d got his final results and he smiled at me and said: “What I keep reminding myself today is that the best news is that Jesus is risen from the dead, not that I’ve got a 2:2!”
Keeping this perspective in life is challenging. I’m writing this article after a summer of sport. Winning is wonderful, but often once the excitement has calmed down there can be a sense of ‘now what?’. Losing can be tough, but often it can lead to a recognition that what matters is not the winning or losing, but the relationships that supported us along the way.
The Apostles were from any earthly perspective a bunch of losers! During Jesus’s most critical period they gave up on him. I find the question that Jesus puts to Peter three times – ‘Peter, do you love me?’ – one of the most moving passages in the New Testament. Despite being abandoned and rejected, Jesus continues to love and reinstate those who disowned him. Jesus knows that what matters is our knowing that we are loved and forgiven, especially when we have failed.
The impact of Jesus’s reinstatement of Peter continued throughout his life. As with my friend, it was Peter’s experience of the risen Jesus that gave him joy and courage. He was transformed from being the disciple who made the most significant mistakes to the one tasked with building new and unexpected relationships as the leader of the early church.
Rev Caroline Halmshaw