Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

("Show Me Your Keys," courtesy of stopnlook's Flickr photostream, via a Creative Commons license)

Matthew 16:13-20:

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

It's probably true that, in addition to my fascination with hands, I also have a fascination with keys. Of course, keys are used by hands. They probably tag-team each other very nicely in my mind.

But a lot of my fascination with keys stems from the fact my late grandfather, who I called Yogi, owned a route of coin-operated machines--jukeboxes, pinball machines, coin-operated pool tables, and, later, video games--and it seemed that there were more keys in Yogi's possession than anyone on earth. I've blogged about his keys before in the summer of 2010--you can read it by clicking on the link here.

There is no doubt--I thought his keys opened all the doors of the universe. He could always keep me fascinated as a child by letting me play with the keys on his key ring. Every time I see the scene in "To Kill a Mockingbird" when Atticus is putting Scout to bed and she is bemusing herself by playing with Atticus' pocket watch, I think about how that is how Yogi's keys were for me.

I still have the ring of keys that was in Yogi's pocket the day he died of a heart attack in November, 1990. I have found myself at times, when I am feeling alone in that way where we feel disconnected from our past, detached from all we came from, holding those keys in my hand as a prayer object, and working my way through holding each key on the ring much as how one would handle a rosary. There are still times I miss him terribly, and holding his keys helps me feel not so far from him. Just as we are told in Matthew that Peter will be the rock upon which "Christ's church" will be built, Yogi's keys are the rock upon which my life was built

This passage in Matthew is one that is related many times from the pulpit and in commentary. The interesting juxtaposition in the English translation of this for me is we are told that the keys are the keys "of the kingdom of heaven" as opposed to the keys "to the kingdom of heaven." I dug around in my Greek Lexicon a bit, (and remember, I have never formally studied Biblical Greek, I am sort of a "I can kinda figure it out like I'm reading the back of a Cracker Jack box" Greek student) and as best as I can tell, the article τῆς is truly "of." (I won't be offended if someone tells me I'm wrong. It won't change the mental exercise I'm about to undertake--it's worth doing even if I have no justification from the lexicon.)

So in my mind, it changes my attitude of what these keys are meant to do. I don't think they are "a set of keys I own here on earth to unlock the treasures of Heaven." I think it might be the other way around. Perhaps these are keys from Heaven that are meant to belong to locks here on Earth, and their purpose is for us to go out and find the corresponding locks.

In other words, there's something bound, imprisoned, and locked up on Earth, that God has assigned us to find, unlock and let free--not necessarily for any great treasure or reward on our part, but simply because it needs to be unbound so Heaven and Earth can intermingle and we can all experience God's Kingdom on Earth. It's an assignment that calls us to use not just our reason, skill, and intellect, but our faith and our desire to be a part of that kingdom ourselves. It requires us to go forth and find these locks for the glory of God, not for ourselves.

However, we should not see it as martyrdom, but rather an amazing display of trust.

I think about how hesitant I am to give up my truck keys or my house keys. I am more than happy to give someone a spare set of my keys, but when it comes to my keys--the ones I carry around in my pocket--I really truly hate for the person to get out of eye-shot. What if they forget? What if they get in an accident? How will I open my home? How will I drive my truck? If I so much as misplace them in my own pocket I freak out.

I know I am not the only one who feels that way. Some of the worst misunderstandings I have had with others, involved keys. Times when, despite my best efforts to be careful, I lost someone's keys because I had a hole in my pocket. Times when someone with dementia misplaced my keys and it was all I could do not to be angry. Times when I went out of my way to help find someone else' keys and ended up feeling somehow "accused of taking them." Times when I've accused others of taking my keys. Times when I thought I had given someone the "right" key, and they got to their destination only to find I had given them the "wrong" key, and there they were, stuck outside and angry. Times when I've dropped someone else's keys in the snow and can't find them (always a risk in NE Missouri in January!) Losing one's keys is almost always charged with raw, sharp emotion. So I realize giving up one's own keys is way different from giving up a spare.

In the context of this passage, these stories of my own life make me realize that these "Keys of the Kingdom" are the keys out of God's own pocket. Yet, we are allowed to keep them for God's service, and God not only "seems not to mind," but encourages us.

That level of trust, alone, should be enough for us to want to run out and joyfully search for their corresponding locks!



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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