St Peter and St Paul (30 June)

A message from the Rev’d Stephen Delbridge

Today we celebrate the Martyrdom of St Peter and St Paul. Tradition holds that Peter and Paul were martyred during the persecution of Nero in 64 to 68 AD. By the sixth century there were 25 credible references to the deaths of Peter and Paul during Nero’s persecution. Most place them separately in 64 AD. Some traditions call Peter and Paul the ‘first Holy Martyrs’ – but I am rather perplexed about what this means for the martyrdoms of Stephen and St James the brother of John (St James the Great), described in Acts Chapters 7 and 12. Many of us will have a favourite saint and St Peter and St Paul each rate highly, very highly, as the ‘most popular favourite saint’. St Peter for his willingness to speak up (‘where else will we go, for you have the words of eternal life’) and for his seeming clumsiness with words (‘we will build three booths, one for you, one for Elijah, and one for Moses’). St Paul for his eloquent letters, for his declarations such as ‘we are heirs of the Father, joint heirs with Jesus’ and ‘in Christ there is no Jew no Greek, no male no female, no slave no free, for all are one in Christ.’ Those might be my favourite Pauline lines, and my favourite Peter story is in Acts 10 and 11, Peter’s dream and the call to baptise Cornelius and all his household. So as we celebrate this feast let us celebrate the gift of the Spirit, the beginning of the church, the coming of faith to the Gentiles – which includes all of us! Thank you for being part of the Community of St James and All Saints, Elizabeth and I are grateful for your love and faithfulness and are drawn to share in this life and be part of this witness.

Blessings to you all,