1 Peter 5:1-4 (CEV)
Helping Christian Leaders
Church leaders, I am writing to encourage you. I too am a leader, as well as a witness to Christ’s suffering, and I will share in his glory when it is shown to us.
Just as shepherds watch over their sheep, you must watch over everyone God has placed in your care. Do it willingly in order to please God, and not simply because you think you must. Let it be something you want to do, instead of something you do merely to make money. Don’t be bossy to those people who are in your care, but set an example for them. Then when Christ the Chief Shepherd returns, you will be given a crown that will never lose its glory.
Totally distracted today by the announcement at the start of morning prayers that today is the feast of the Chair of St. Peter. Now I can hear some of you protesting – “Surely that was on 18th January?” Well, I’m sorry, but you are probably confusing the feast of St. Peter’s Rome Chair with the the feast of St. Peter’s Antioch Chair – the former used to be on 18th January but is now largely discontinued, though some traditional catholics continue to celebrate both as you cannot have too many feasts of peoples’ chairs, no!
In St Peter’s Basilica is a HUGE sculpted gilt bronze casing designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, designed to house a relic – a wooden throne that tradition claims the Apostle Saint Peter, the leader of the Early Christians in Rome and first Pope, used as Bishop of Rome.
Bernini’s hideous edifice
the relic within
Pope’s used to insist that Peter did, indeed, sit on this “chair”, but, let’s face it, that’s nonsense! Popes now put less emphasis on the archaeological authenticity of the chair than on its spiritual significance.
So what IS the spiritual significance?
Well, there has been an awful lot of guff spoken about Peter being the first Bishop and the first pope. So the feast of St. Peter’s Chair has quite a bit of baggage attached to it about Pope-y things and the authority of Bishops – which doesn’t turn me on!
The reading above is set for this feast day and talks of those in authority being a living example to their “flock”.
There are lots of things I am proud of about the URC – one of them is this – that our understanding of authority in the church is that is can only be built on a foundation of service. You only have authority to lead in as much as you are prepared to serve. Peter’s letter seems to be saying just that. I don’t think Peter sat on a throne and I think he’d be appalled to see Bernini’s hideous carbuncle. I am appalled to see the HUGE and ostentatious bishop’s throne in Exeter cathedral. Jesus would NEVER have sat on it.
That said – in Kingsteignton URC there are chairs behind the communion table – and the middle one is where the minister is supposed to sit – and it is much huger and more ornate than the four chairs that the Elders are supposed to sit on… so – stones and glass houses!
Lythan only has short legs, she struggles in most URC minister-communion chairs. Here she is in action: