Here we are in Matthew 14:22–33 and I bet in the midst of the international pandemic and our wrestling with all those problems that have become magnified by the pandemic: racism, homelessness, poverty, childcare, healthcare, etc, that we all wish we could walk on water right now. I would love to be able to identify with Jesus, sure and strong, for whom the water is neither a barrier nor a danger.
Sadly, I am consistently a mere disciple; terrified when Jesus comes in unexpected ways. What are some of the unexpected ways Jesus has come to you during this pandemic season?
I think I saw Jesus in the small funeral I was asked to conduct for the spouse of one of our members, in the recently homeless man who was trying to get enough money for gas to get from NY to SC, in the realization that the ceremonial donning of my mask during drive in worship was probably the most important preaching & care for my people that I do every Sunday.
When Jesus shows up, do we even know enough to recognize him? We humans continue to look for Jesus among the rich and powerful, when we should know better. That is not where Jesus is going to appear. Pick the least likely place for you to find Jesus: In the ICE cages of USA, in the emergency units of the COVID wards, in the poverty stricken homeless camps in the major cities. We definitely need to find Jesus. Where is Jesus going to show up, and how can we believe in him better?
Then there is Peter: Disciple with the big mouth who proclaims loudly that I can follow and do whatever Christ asks. Switching immediately from not believing it’s Jesus to trying to prove his belief by either following Christ’s impossible path or by trying to be Christ himself.
But lo, Peter, and we, are only human. These days, I feel like we are always sinking. Sinking because we are overwhelmed, sinking because we are afraid, sinking because we doubt. Sinking because we are not Jesus, and we do not know where to step without sinking.
“Lord, Save me” Save me because I am all at sea, and have nowhere else to turn. Save me Jesus.
Jesus immediately–Immediately!!! Because he knew it because he is always ready to save us, or both!–immediately reaches out his hand to Peter. He pulls him up, he saves him from the whelming flood.
He walks, hand in hand with Peter.
Like a parent reminding a child that they are safe. Like rollerskating together, like walking across a perilous street together, like one does when someone has a nightmare, or when someone is truthfully and rightfully scared of the pandemic and all the economic woe it brings.
Jesus is holding our hand, remind us, in the midst of our doubt, that it will all be all right in the end.
Maybe not in this life, but definitely in the next one.
And for that, maybe it’s worth it to try to walk on water–even as we remember we can only do so with the helping hand of Christ.
How is your sermon going are you preaching how “Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other” in the New Age? Wrestling with all the inequities of this kingdom even as we pray to bring forth the next one in Psalm 85?
Or are you challenging your people with the call to be the “feet of Jesus” in this tough time in Romans 10:5-15 so that “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Are you wrestling with the fact that many, many people are calling out for help right now? How are you going to help to direct that call to Jesus?
Or are you dealing with Genesis 37:1-4, 14-28 the betrayal of Joseph (who’s very coat of many colors serve to queer the text) by his very own jealous brothers? Are you talking about how families can become toxic, and how God supports found families? Or is it taking you in a different direction.
Wherever the texts are leading you, we invite you to share your thoughts and pondering here, and hope your sermon process is filled with the Holy Spirit this week.
Katy Stenta is a solo pastor at a tiny church that is bigger on the inside in Albany, NY for over eight years and blogs at firstname.lastname@example.org She is also the co-founder of the fledgling TrailPraisers inclusive Worship. When she is not dreaming up projects and ideas, some of which creep into the church, she plays with her three boys-boys or goes and visits her husband at the library, while he works, to read.
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