“[Peter said] You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. . . 17 And Jesus answered on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:16-18)
It is clear . . . that the above exchange between Peter and Jesus occurred before COVID-19! For as I write these words I am also reading of “huge numbers of pastors leaving Christian ministry because of the demands placed upon the church by the COVID-19 pandemic . . . with one survey finding 50 percent have considered leaving the ministry in the last month”.
And it isn’t just pastors. Frost and Hirsch continue “there are reports that something like 30 percent, or one in three Christians, have stopped attending church during 2020 and 2021.” Indeed, it sounds kind of bleak. Perhaps Jesus was wrong? Could this be a showdown between the “gates of hell” and the promise of Jesus?  Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch, Re-Jesus, Remaking the Church in Our Founders Image (Cody Wyoming: 100 Movements Publishing, 2022), xvii.  Ibid
It is true that our world continues to be rocked by COVID-19 (according to the New York times on October 31, 2022, the 7-day average of COVID deaths was 362 per day). Add in the reality that at a time when the world needs the healing, justice, inclusion, grace, love, and hope of Jesus, many speaking as church have become entangled with political agendas, distrust/suspicion of neighbors who are “different”, and a “deep-seated spiritual and theological bankruptcy.”
Sure feels like “the gates of hell” are upon us. However, this isn’t the first time, nor will it likely be the last, that Satan has attempted to strike a fatal blow to Jesus’ church. Indeed, as challenging as these times may be for those of us who love the church, it is precisely in the challenges we face that I am confident that it is a GREAT time to BE the church!  Ibid
For it is through these challenges, through this testing, through these turbulent and stress filled times that we have the opportunity to Re-Jesus Christ’s Church. The call to Re-Jesus is an opportunity to shed all within the church that does not bear the image of, give witness to, and serve the cause of Jesus.
Through the work of Re-Jesus in the church, you and I are given the opportunity to participate directly in the work of God to bring light and life to the world. As we re-imagine, re-claim, re-new, re-start the work of our corner of the church, we are invited into the Spirit’s exciting work of remaking St. Peter’s in the very image of Jesus.
The Re-Jesus of St. Peter’s urges us shed that which is human undertaking and embrace the unstoppable work of God!
So, no, Jesus was not wrong. The gates of Hell will not and cannot prevail against the church of Jesus Christ (a promise given to the whole church yet not to any specific congregation that is formed by anything other than Jesus).
We’ve been through a lot. There is grief, loss, and trauma of these times; but we are neither lost, forgotten, or alone. Christ is with us. The Spirit washes over us. God’s grace sustains us.
As we Re-Jesus St. Peter’s God re-forms us, re-shapes us, and re-vives us as the very image of Jesus, and sends us forward as ambassadors of grace, hope, and love.
The world needs Jesus. We are blessed with the vision that all may encounter Jesus in who we are and in all that we do.
The world needs Jesus. We are blessed to be and grow disciples of Jesus.
The world needs Jesus. We are blessed to Grow Grace. Live Hope. Serve Love. in partnership with Jesus.
Gamaliel, the teacher of the law in Acts 5, gets it right when he says “for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them (Acts 5:38-39).”
The Re-Jesus of St. Peter’s places the example and teaching of Jesus front and center. There we embrace, follow, and reflect the one who ate with sinners, tax collectors, and prostitutes; the one who saved and saves sinners like you and me; the one who took on and conquered death so that creation might have life.
It is indeed, a very good time to be the church.
It is indeed, a very good time to be St. Peter’s. '
For since this plan is of God, shaped and formed in the image and person of Jesus, it cannot be overthrown. The gates of hell will never prevail against Jesus.
 Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch, Re-Jesus, Remaking the Church in Our Founders Image (Cody Wyoming: 100 Movements Publishing, 2022), xvii.