Today is St. Peter’s day, when we remember the disciple who for all his many mistakes, knew how to recover and hold on, who, for all his waverings was called by Jesus ;the rock’, who learned the threefold lesson that every betrayal can ultimately be restored by love. It is fitting therefore that it is at Petertide that new priests and deacons are ordained, on the day they remember a man whose recovery from mistakes and openness to love can give them courage. So I post this poem not only for St. Peter but for all those being ordained this weekend and in memory of my own ordination on this day 22 years ago.
As always you can her the poem by clicking on the ‘play’ button, or on the title of the poem.
Impulsive master of misunderstanding
You comfort me with all your big mistakes;
Jumping the ship before you make the landing,
Placing the bet before you know the stakes.
I love the way you step out without knowing,
The way you sometimes speak before you think,
The way your broken faith is always growing,
The way he holds you even when you sink.
Born to a world that always tried to shame you,
Your shaky ego vulnerable to shame,
I love the way that Jesus chose to name you,
Before you knew how to deserve that name.
And in the end your Saviour let you prove
That each denial is undone by love.
15 responses to “A Sonnet for St. Peter.”
Congratulations on your ordination anniversary, Malcolm. I have a special affection for Peter and your poem has really “got” what he means to me also. Thank you! Another dimension to this day which has always figured in my calendar – my dad, Paul, was born on this day 103 years ago (no longer alive in this world!).
Thanks Sally and of course today is really St. Peter and Saint Paul tho I chose to concentrate on Peter!
Malcolm, I love this. It really moved me. x Sally
Peter is my father’s name!
“Pierre, sur cette pierre je bâtirai mon église”
According to the Julian calendar, St Peter/Paul Day is coming up on the 12 July. And according to Ukrainian Orthodox custom (and perhaps others’?), there can be no weddings until after “Petropavla”. That is, after a fasting season. (And this is the reason for my parents’ wedding anniversary on 12 July and not a day sooner!) According to folk custom, Patropavla is also the first day that wheat stalks “head out” with full grains.
Thanks, its always interesting to hear these customs and calendar differences. I like the fact that we celebrate Peter and Paul together, such different people, who sometimes disagreed but both ultimately united together in christ!
I love this poem, Malcolm. It’s so easy to stay stuck in the perception that we are victims of betrayal without understanding that we can learn to practice forgiveness because of it, or to forget that we too have betrayed. Thank you.
A friend introduced me to this poem. I like it a lot!
Thanks Wilda I’m glad you liked it
I borrowed the second line of your sonnet to start one of my own – about my uncle.
I really love your poem. I’m a composer who has been asked to write a piece for a choir in Oxford. I would love to use your poem – can I?
Dear Tom, yes by all means set this poem, I’d be interested to hear it when youve finished.
Hello Malcolm. Yesterday Sept. 3rd.(Pent.13) I preached on Peter and asked an eldery lady to speak your beautiful sonnet to Peter. It was so meaningful to everyone that they all wanted a copy and asked me if I would put in our free church magazine “In Touch”. Would that be OK if I add “with permission from Rev. Malcolm Guite” ? Thanks. Rev. Janet. Edinburgh
Dear Janet. Yes that’s absolutely fine!
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