Sermon Preparation -
August 8, 1999
Right away [after feeding 5,000], Jesus made his disciples get into a boat and start back across the lake. But he stayed until he had sent the crowds away. Then he went up on a mountain where he could be alone and pray. Later that evening, he was still there.
By this time the boat was a long way from the shore. It was going against the wind and was being tossed around by the waves. A little while before morning. Jesus came walking on the water toward his disciples. When they saw him, they thought he was a ghost. There were terrified and started screaming.
At once, Jesus said to them, "Don't worry! I am Jesus. Don't be afraid."
Peter replied, "Lord, if it is really you, tell me to come to you on the water."
"Come on!" Jesus said, Peter then got out of the boat and started walking on the water toward him.
But when Peter saw how strong the wind was, he was afraid and started sinking, "Save me, Lord!" he shouted.
Right away, Jesus reached out his hand. He helped Peter up and said, "You surely don't have much faith. Why do you doubt?"
When Jesus and Peter got into the boat, the wind died down. The men in the boat worshiped Jesus and said, "You really are the Son of God!" [CEV]
1. Are you remembering from last week that Jesus had heard about John's beheading and was going off to be alone and the crowds followed on shore as he had a moment in the boat. The time in the boat was important to be able to deal with the unexpected crowds with mercy. That brief time didn't take care of the need to be alone. So, finally, Jesus got his alone time. I suspect that you have had your moments of alone time in the midst of a wobbly world. I suspect that may just be getting you by. When will you take an extended time alone? Is there a promise inherent here that getting the needed alone time allows one to re-enter the storms, but in a new way -- now able to walk on the tumultuous waves of life?
2. Let's presume you have had your alone time with GOD. The wind can blow and the waves can rise and yet you will be able to proceed as though on solid ground. There is not even a need to turn the wind aside or turn the waves down. However, when you are again back in the same boat as others who are not as newly fortified as yourself the mercy to feed 5,000 returns to calm the sea for only 12. If we are not about calming the seas for others, what are we about? This calming the seas is prelude to folks giving up their doubts in favor of praise.
3. Backing up just a bit to the disciples -- while they were so busy with survival issues they became extra-sensitive to anything out of the ordinary and they were not able to recognize their teacher. When folks are down to survival mode folks tend to become apathetic, nothing bothers them, or to become easily terrified, everything bothers them.
Our United Methodist tradition encourages us to both calm the sea for folks as well as to point out the presence of Jesus in stormy situations that terror might be stilled and even a moment of water-walking might be available to folks. May these twin actions be active in your life this week as you experience your own storm and as you deal with others experiencing their own storm.
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