Unmistakable Accent

By Michael Smith

A Reading from the Gospel of Matthew 26:69-75

69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A female servant came to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” 70 But he denied it before all of them, saying, “I do not know what you are talking about.” 71 When he went out to the porch, another female servant saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus the Nazarene.” 72 Again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man.” 73 After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.” 74 Then he began to curse, and he swore an oath, “I do not know the man!” At that moment the cock crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.


Amid the story of Peter’s denial of Jesus as told in today’s gospel lesson is a recognition of the different way Peter talked: “Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.” A funny thing about accents — you do not know you have one until someone else points it out.

I was born and raised in south central Oklahoma and did not know I had an accent until one summer when I visited northern Kansas. Someone there asked me where I was from because of my accent. I was blown away. Since then, having lived in North Dakota and Minnesota for the past 30 years, I am regularly asked where my accent is from. I guess in some ways I will always be identifiable as an Okie. (I am proud of my roots, by the way.)

A faithful, committed Christian has a spiritual accent of sorts. It comes from speaking and living the language of love, love of God and love of neighbor. The sound of our voice is affected by a deepening and growing relationship with God in Jesus Christ. Others can hear it and recognize it. Perhaps it is best we do not know we have one.

Michael G. Smith served as bishop of North Dakota for 15 years and is currently the Assistant Bishop of Dallas. He works with the Navajoland Iona Collaborative and is a Benedictine Oblate and an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.

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Today we pray for:

The Diocese of Maseno North – The Anglican Church of Kenya
Church of the Good Shepherd, Augusta, Ga.


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