Matthew 16.13-20 Jesus at the Headwaters JUMC 20110821

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.  NRSV

The Jordon River begins as spring, fed by the snow capped mountains, (Mt Nebo)
which runs deep into the grown through rocks to form the headwaters.
The birthplace of the river.

I was born at the Candler county hospital in Metter, GA. People as, where were your born. In Metter, I answer. They may have heard of the Guido Gardens or know it is the bathroom break you take on I-16 between Macon and Savannah. But for me, it is my birth place. If inquirers are familiar with Metter, they begin to ask me if I know this family or that family. I have regret as I only lived there six months. I beyond the primal trama of birth itself, it holds no childhood memories for me. But it is my starting point.

If you live at your starting point, one must ask, what have I done with the time I have been right here? How many of us were born here in Butts county? How many have never moved away? You can’t choose where you were born, but we all grow out of the places where we have started.. The question is where are you now? and the follow up is, Where are you going?

I had a family that had a mountain house on the Taccoa River, the little fishing lodge held many family memories for generations. When the grand father of the family died, the family wanted to have his memorial service at the cabin and desired to have his ashes placed into the river. At the end of the time of remembering the family members who wanted to cast the remains into the water found the little pool of water near the cabin that was so good for trout, did not facilitate ashes floating down stream as they had hoped. His ashes remained very close to the bank. The Point: We are not suppose to linger in the same place.

Jesus’ point: Where have we started our faith journey and where did our faith find its beginning?
I recall on a long summer camping vacation wedding trip. We traveling just south of Fargo, to Wahpeton North Dakota by way of Minnesota, we followed the Mississippi river north and then went west. At the starting point of the river there was a place where you could step on a few stones and walk across the Mighty Mississippi. Of Course at its beginning it is small. In its maturity it is enormous.

Jesus takes the disciples to the head waters of the Jordon, near the base of the snow capped Mt Nebo, to a place that seven deities were worshipped. Here Jesus ask them the most important question.

The very first assignment I was given in Seminary was to write my Credo, “This I Believe”. With each semester I had the opportunity to rewrite, adding and taking away, but always going back to the first draft to compare where I had grown and to what I continued to hold fast through out great challenge.

In the middle of Jesus work with the disciples he takes them to the foundation, the birthplace of the Jordon River, the source of their water, food, livelihood, culture, and life.. and here in the presence of other cultures ask for their affirmation, confession, and profession of faith.

Point: What is the foundation of your trust and faith?  “Who do you say that I am?” he asked.

Confirmation is a time of claiming the birth of our faith. For some it is the birthplace, for most Methodist, it is looking back to the faith that brings us to this point and looking down the stream as for as we can see and confirm where we stand and why we are on this faith journey, together.

The end of the teaching moment, Jesus gives disciples a command that is not ours. He wanted to know where they were, but his timing was different. We live in a time that hungers to hear Where God is alive? What is our meaning and purpose?

These who come to stand at the edge of the water and say, You are the Christ, I will follow you. Are those who are now called to go tell. But it is not just them, they now remind all us, God’s timing is to tell the whole world.

Affirm our faith, Once Again… I believe

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