Luci Shaw, “Judas, Peter” [Poetry for Lent]

Poetry for Lent 2.001

Every Thursday during Lent, I post a poem that I find helpful for deeper engagement with Jesus’ journey to the Cross and the significance of Lent. Here is Luci Shaw’s poem “Judas, Peter” from Polishing the Petoskey Stone: New and Selected Poems. Luci Shaw has served as a writer in residence at Regent College (Vancouver, BC) since 1998 and is the author of eleven volumes of poetry.


because we are all
betrayers, taking
silver and eating
body and blood and asking
(guilty) is it I and hearing
him say yes
it would be simple for us all
to rush out
and hang ourselves

but if we find grace
to cry and wait
after the voice of morning
has crowed in our ears
clearly enough
to break out hearts
he will be there
to ask us each again
do you love me?


Previous poems in this series:

John Donne, ‘Hymn to God, My God, in My Sickness”

Langston Hughes, “The Ballad of Mary’s Son”

Gerard Manley Hopkins, “I Wake and Feel the Fell of Dark, Not Day”

Real Life: an exploration of the Beatitudes

This past weekend at Eastbrook, we began a new series “Becoming Real” which will explore the Sermon on the Mount by looking at the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-12. The Beatitudes are a very familiar portion of Scripture, so it can be difficult to hear them afresh, but I did my best to help us see both how shocking and how life-giving these statements by Jesus about the flourishing life really are.

You can view the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire “Becoming Real” series here, as well as the devotional that accompanies the series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.”  (Matthew 5:1-2)

Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount

  • Matthew’s Gospel organized around 5 discourses:
    • Matthew 5-7
    • Matthew 10
    • Matthew 13
    • Matthew 18
    • Matthew 24-25
  • The disciples as the focus, but the crowd listening
  • The Sermon on the Mount as the Discipleship Handbook for living in God’s kingdom

The Beatitudes and What it Means to be “Blessed”

  • The meaning of μακάριος – blessed, happy, it will go well with, fortunate, flourishing
  • The flourishing life in the kingdom of heaven
  • The unexpected

Exploring the Beatitudes

  • Exploring them one at a time
  • Seeing the “two tables” of the Beatitudes

Living the Good Life in God’s Kingdom

  1. Knowing and following Jesus
  2. Responding to Jesus’ invitation to enter God’s kingdom
  3. Considering what it means to be blessed or to flourish
  4. Living with God now in light of the end

Dig Deeper

This week dig deeper into the Beatitudes in one or more of the following ways:

  • Consider memorizing one or all of the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12.
  • Read and meditate upon the Beatitudes one per day on your own or with a friend. Write down one thing you learned each day and share with another person.
  • Consider watching Tim Mackie of The Bible Project discuss the Beatitudes
  • Explore parallels to the Beatitudes in other parts of Scripture:
    • Psalm 1:1; 32:1-2; 40:4; 119:1-2; 128:1
    • Isaiah 61
    • Matthew 11:6; 13:16; 16:17; 24:45
    • Luke 1:45; 10:23; 11:27-28

The Call of Discipleship

This past weekend at Eastbrook, we concluded our series “Power in Preparation” by tracing Jesus’ call to discipleship to Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John in Matthew 4:18-25. This was also a child dedication weekend at Eastbrook, so my sermon was a little shorter than other times.

You can view the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire “Power in Preparation” series here, as well as the devotional that accompanies the series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.

Also, watch for our new sermon series, “Becoming Real: The Sermon on the Mount,” which begins next Sunday with the beginning of Lent.


“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.”  (Matthew 4:23)

Introducing the Next Section of Matthew’s Gospel

  • The new geography: from Nazareth to Capernaum (4:13)
  • The beginnings of the Messianic community: Peter, Andrew, James, John (4:18-22)
  • The phenomenal growth and reach of Jesus’ ministry (4:23-25)

Jesus and the Call of Discipleship

  • The life situation of Peter and Andrew, James and John
  • The decisive call of Jesus
  • The response of these first disciples

Jesus and the Gathering Crowd

  • Jesus’ ministry: teaching, proclaiming, healing
  • “The good news of the kingdom”
  • The draw of the crowd
  • The crowd that followed Him

Dig Deeper

This week dig deeper into the significance of Jesus’ message and calling in one or more of the following ways:

  • Memorize Jesus’ invitation in Matthew 4:19
  • Sketch or draw the scene of the disciples following Jesus from Matthew 4:18-22 or the crowds drawing near to Jesus from Matthew 4:23-25
  • Set aside some time this week to read Matthew 4:18-25 again. Meditate quietly on these words, asking Jesus what He might be speaking to you to let go of in order to follow Him.
  • Consider watching the word study video “Euangelion / Gospel” by the Bible Project

What Does It Look Like to Step Out in Faith? [Peter and Faith, part 4]

image 2 - water

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat. (Matthew 14:28-29)

Peter’s faith leads him to risk stepping out of the boat. He actually steps out in faith to follow Jesus onto the waters in the midst of the waves and wind. Peter shows us what faith looks like. He hasn’t waited for someday. He’s looked and listened for Jesus. And he steps out.

Philippe Petit, a French acrobat and high-wire artist, knows what it means to risk stepping out. In the early 1970s, he heard about the construction of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York. When he saw a picture of their design, it was like he heard a voice calling him to do something startling and risky.

The 2008 documentary, Man on Wire, tells the story of how, after six years of planning, on August 7th, 1974, Petit and his friends secretly rode a freight elevator 104 stories up into the newly constructed twin towers of the World Trade Center. After stretching a ¾” metal cable across the 200 foot span between the towers, Petit illegally stepped out for a high wire act like no other. With the winds blowing, Philippe Petit was 110 stories—a quarter of a mile—above the sidewalks of Manhattan. 

Man on Wire

He walked the wire for 45 minutes, making eight crossings between the towers. He sat on the wire, gave knee salutes and, while lying on the wire, spoke with a gull circling above his head. After this spell-binding display, Petit was arrested, taken for psychological evaluation, and brought to jail before he was finally released.

Risky faith looks a bit like that. We hear a voice calling us to action. We respond. And then we step out. It may seem startling and risky, but we will do whatever Jesus says.

How Do We Hear Jesus? [Peter and Faith, part 3]

image 2 - water

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat. (Matthew 14:28-29)

If faith sees Jesus and desires Jesus, how do we really hear from Jesus?

We see that Peters walk of faith comes after he hears Jesus’ invitation to join Him upon the waves. Now that is wondrous to read about but what does that mean for our own lives?

The first aspect of hearing from Jesus is that we ask and wait. Peter does not jump out of the boat before talking with Jesus. Yes, he is bold enough to take the initiative to ask Jesus but Peter is not so foolish to try and walk out there without first hearing Jesus’ invitation. Faith responds to God. Faith hears because God first speaks. Our framework for understanding the dynamics of a living interactive relationship with the Living God through Jesus Christ must always be shaped around the deep truth that God speaks first and our lives are always a response to Him. I had a friend in college who jokingly said that in prayer he told God what to do. Of course, prayer is not really like that, anymore than any important relationship in our life is like that. Prayer is an interaction with God based in a loving relationship of trust by which we hear Him first and respond.

Out of that place, we begin to develop a living relationship with God. Now, many will say that our life with Christ is not like Peter’s interaction here in Matthew 14. This is true in the sense that Peter is talking with the incarnate Jesus upon earth. But it is no less true that we, by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, can interact with the Living God through Jesus Christ. So, let me invite us to once again renew a living relationship of faith that listens for God. How do we do that? Well, the primary ways are through first and most importantly paying attention to the guidance of Holy Scripture. After that we also hear from God by attuning ourselves to the inward promptings of the Holy Spirit, listening to godly counsel, and paying attention to how God speaks through our circumstances. You may want to read more about this in my earlier post “How Do We Hear from God Today?”

Consider some questions with me about what this episode in Peter’s life means for us today:

  • What is God inviting you into these days? What steps of faith is God calling you into?
  • Are you listening for the inward promptings of the Holy Spirit?
  • Are you measuring those inward promptings against the Word of God – the Bible – which keeps us trustworthy and true?

May we be the sort of faith-filled disciples who not only fix our eyes on Jesus, but also open our ears to hear Jesus. As He said, “My sheep listen to my voice” (John 10:27).