Did I Really Say That?
Past experiences can often bring us a sense of joy and satisfaction. It is usually these joyful experiences we have encountered that we most often share with our friends at parties and gatherings and such. Suffice it to say that what may start out as a joyful experience can all of a sudden take a detour into places one was not expecting. That said, the experience in this reflection I'm choosing to share today started out well but eventually went a lot further south than I had anticipated. This event occurred sometime in the mid 1980's. I was serving as a minister of music and youth in a church in Georgia. It was around Easter. I used to sing a particular song entitled "He's Alive" complete with "cassette tape" accompaniment. In those days accompaniment tape trax assisted the soloist in church with their very own orchestra. I suppose it gave the musician and the congregation a certain flair although a number of people called it "canned music."
So here I was during the evening worship service preparing to sing this song. I had acquired a small amount of theatrical exposure due to a couple of small parts I played while in seminary and decided that I would attempt to transform myself into the character of Peter the disciple of Jesus right there in front of the onlooking congregation.
The song I was about to sing was a testimony told by Peter. With so much confusion as Jesus' disciples watched his crucifixion and then witnessed his burial, the events that had transpired from Peter's point of view must have been very despairing particularly when you figure in that he had denied that he even knew Jesus.
As I am attempting to take what little make-up I have to bring about a slight change in my appearance as part of my song's presentation complete with robe and sandals I am offering some information about Peter. Suddenly I said, "Peter was such a klutz." At the time I sensed a slight tinge within me but I didn't really pay that much attention to it until much later. I don't remember anything else I said that evening. I went on and sang the song and that was that. I thought.
About seven years later I had moved to Mississippi where I was invited to participate in an Easter cantata presented by a local Baptist Church. When I was introduced to the part I would be singing I realized that the part belonged to Peter. All of a sudden the events of that fateful night that had occurred seven years earlier came rushing back into my awareness. With tears it was impressed on me that Peter was not dead and gone but very much alive and the statement I had made about him was not true. I recall falling down on my knees asking Jesus to forgive me for being the "klutz" in making such an awful statement about Peter and to that congregation.
I will never forget that particular Sunday morning when we gathered to present this cantata to that congregation in Mississippi. As I sat with the choir all of a sudden I heard these words spoken to me in my spirit, "Your prayer has been heard and you have been forgiven and to show the gracious favor of that forgiveness you have been honored to sing Peter's part. With tears freely flowing down my face I was surprised that the words I heard in my spirit came to me with absolutely no condemnation. Since this experience I have heard others say negative things about Peter. I confess that I cringe but perhaps it would be best if we make the choice not to say anything negative about anyone whether they are present with us here or in that great cloud of witnesses.