Mark 8:31-38

There are two kinds of dogs in this world (not people this time!). There are the dogs who eat everything and anything – toss them a bit of anything, meat, cauliflower, mushrooms, shoe leather – and it will be snapped out of the sky and scarfed down without hesitation.

Then there are the dogs that approach every tidbit offered to them with suspicion. They stop, they sniff, they consider, and then they finally — tentatively — accept the goodie offered to them. The spoiled doggie message being sent here is that the gift you offer is accepted with the attitude that “I am doing you a favor by eating this.”

The “scarf hounds” joyously wolf down whatever comes their way from our hands because they trust that we are always offering them something good, something that they want and they need.

The “spoiled dogs” also show up for treat time, but they convey an attitude that suggests that we need them to be there. Those pampered pups take their invitation as a given, and their finicky feeding manners emphasize that they are “gracing us” with their presence and their acceptance of what we offer to them.

Did you come to worship this morning as a “scarf hound” or as a “spoiled dog”? Are you here because your soul trusts in God’s providence and presence, and hungers for the divine gift of being able to draw near to God? Or are you here because you are doing God a “favor” by showing up? Do you somehow imagine that God needs your presence and the witness of your worship in order to validate God’s divinity?

In this week’s gospel text Peter once again demonstrates his ability to get everything right, and then with the next breath get everything wrong…