But God raised Jesus from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. – Acts 2:24 (NIV)
Peter is my favorite disciple (aside from Mary Magdalene, of course!), because his behavior throughout the Gospels reminds me that God can and will use anybody for the building of God’s kin-dom.
Peter wasn’t afraid to ask questions, to take chances, or to risk sounding dumb. He spoke up—sometimes out of turn and way too soon. He was ambitious, curious, and sometimes unclear. At times he was brave and protective (remember that guard’s ear?), and other times he was afraid and chose his own safety. All the while, Peter never gave up trying, working, and seeking to be true to his calling.
Peter loved Jesus deeply. It is on this love, faithfulness, and determination that the Church was founded.
And so, it is no surprise to me that on that Pentecost holiday, Peter was not about to let the naysayers gaslight those who had decided to follow Jesus. The Holy Spirit filled the hearts of the people, allowing them to connect and to understand and to hear one another.
Peter did not allow his journey to diminish his conviction. His past trauma did not take away from his testimony. Peter did not shrink in the presence of the “devout” (Acts 2:5, NRSV). He stood on what he knew, controlling the narrative.
And when asked, “What shall we do?” Peter invited them into the community of faith. Because just as death could not keep its hold on Jesus, Peter had learned that it is impossible to hold onto and withhold God’s grace.
Thank you, God, for your generous grace. It is our prayer that we, too, boldly and lovingly bear witness in a world that seems determined to squash your story of love and new life. Amen.
Marilyn Pagán-Banks (she/her/ella) is a queer womanist freedom fighter gratefully (though not always gracefully) serving as executive director of A Just Harvest, Senior Pastor at San Lucas UCC, and adjunct professor at McCormick Theological Seminary. She is a joyful contributor to The Words of Her Mouth.