In this week’s gospel, Jesus is questioning Peter about his true intentions. I still hear echoes of his central question to the Apostle Peter in the voice of Archbishop Donald Coggin, when he asked my seminary class in 1980: “Do you love Jesus?” “Yes, of course I do,” I thought… “that’s why I’m scheduled to be ordained a priest.” Then the archbishop went on to describe what the mission would look like: countless meetings, difficult money matters, transformational sacramental moments, heart-wrenching burials, healing encounters, strategic planning, diocesan dealings, stubborn bishops, inspiring music, melancholy moments, prayer gatherings, disciple-making, tedious church politics, life-changing outreach, resurrection occurrences. His description encapsulates the gift of the local congregation.

Each week, the congregation of Bethesda-by-the-Sea seeks to respond with Peter: “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” And each week, you and I are encouraged to hear Jesus’ response: “Then feed and tend to my sheep.” As the Book of Common Prayer declares: “… to love and serve … caring alike for young and old, strong and weak, rich and poor.”

Bob Dannals
Interim Rector