Let’s start with three deep breaths and relax….
Holy One, we come before you
with sighs too deep for words.
We come with hearts overwhelmed—
by the world, by personal relationships,
and by inward struggles.
We come to praise your name
and to be reassured of your unending grace.
In this time and place,
open our hearts to your presence.
Open our ears to hear your word proclaimed.
Open our hands to serve you and the world.
May our lives reflect Christ,
who walks with us and gives us life.
In the name of Christ, we pray.
let us begin today’s worship
Call to Worship (Matt 14)
L: Jesus walks to us over the water.
P: “Call to us, Lord. We long to be with you.”
L: Jesus calls to us, “Come! Do not be afraid.”
P: “Save us, Lord, we’re sinking!”
L: Jesus saves us from our fears.
God delivers us from the storm.
P: Thanks be to God!
I Love to Tell the Story #522vs 1,2,4
(All candles lit.)
Matthew 14:22-33 (NRSV)
Jesus Walks on the Water
22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land,[a] for the wind was against them. 25 And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”
28 Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he noticed the strong wind,[b] he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
The word of God for the people of God!
“Here comes Jesus, see him walking on the waves that roll…” You just have to know where the rocks are…
This text, this Gospel story has been a source of inspiration and humor.
Peter, the cornerstone on which the church shall be built, the rock…and he sank like one!
My process for creating a sermon is to read, to search, to pray and to listen to my heart. The latter is the tough one. I do not always trust my heart. Or sometimes I fear my heart may get to hearty and other times I fear my head becomes to heady.
But an interesting thing about ministry is we must listen to our hearts. Yes that is plural because we are a sacred priesthood of all believers!
So when it comes to ministry, when it comes to reaching out and providing care, often aour hearts are softened and we put our own needs aside and move full heartedly into the call to minister.
But, how often do we listen to our own hearts when they tell us we need rest. We need respite? We need to engage in self-care?...” I can rest when I am dead!” who hasn’t heard that before?
Something interesting happens in this text that few notice…
“In the Gospel reading this week, Jesus indeed calls to his disciples in the midst of the wild and restless sea1, but he is not beckoning them away from the storm. Instead, his voice calls them into the tumult.
The text says that Jesus made the disciples get into the boat (14:22). A better translation of this main verb would be “to force” or “to compel.” Jesus did not give the disciples a choice. He compelled them to get into the boat and to leave him alone with the crowds.
Why did he not have the disciples stay and help him with these crowds? After all, the multitude is huge. There are 5,000 men and probably twice as many women and children (14:21). They followed Jesus out to this lonely place (14:13). It was the disciples who wanted Jesus to get rid of the crowds before the great miracle of the feeding (14:15). Only after feeding this multitude does Jesus send everyone away: the crowds and the disciples.”
Even the most introverted of people engaged in ministry like it when people show up. People had just showed up for Jesus. As a matter-of-fact they have just fed 5000 men and probably twice as many woman, children, servants and slaves.
Now Jesus is like okay you guys leave…go! And to the people thank you all for coming best be on your way now…nothing more to see here…thanks for coming…you don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here…buh by now…Whew!
Alone at last…Just Jesus and God…Jesus has gone up the mountain to pray…the mountain where people and God meet in the bible…
Mitzi Smith professor of new testament at Columbia suggests the disciples might have been aware of Jesus’ needs…
“The story of Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee is preceded by the narrative of the feeding the 5,000-plus (Matthew 14:13-21); a healing summary follows it (14:34-36). In all three narratives the crowds play a significant role. In the preceding narrative, Jesus tries to retreat into an isolated place, perhaps needing space to grieve the murder of John the Baptist; however, he is drawn back into the crowd and their needs (14:13-21). Jesus momentarily sacrifices self-care to attend to the crowds. The disciples urge Jesus to dismiss the crowds, presuming that the entire crowd has the means and ability to trek into the city to buy food. This won’t be the first time the disciples urge Jesus to send folks packing (15:23). But perhaps, in this case, Jesus’ inner circle sensed that Jesus needed some self-care -- time to be alone and relax.”
Well that’s her theory…I highly doubt the disciples were that sensitive to Jesus’ needs…
I often speak of prayer as self-care. Prayer is a good way to prepare our body, mind and soul for ministry. Yet, we also need to be self-aware of when we need it. When we need prayer, when we need self-care, when we need to take some time.
I must say you all are very good about asking and nudging the Pastor about when he is going to take some much-needed time. When are Bob and I going on vacation? Who knows but I promise sooner than later. But what about you all?
We all have different callings here in the church and in life. “We all variously allow our callings to blind us to our limitations and the long-term effects of neglecting self-care. But more importantly, we can forget that we are not God! And when we leave the earth, others will or will not carry on; over that we have no control.” Wait… what?
We all need to think about how to give ourselves a little respite. We all need to think about just taking care of ourselves for a few minutes.
Now I will tell you, and I am sure someone out there has said this, I hear it way too often; “If I don’t do it will never get done.”
My answer to that is…then it doesn’t get done! That’s is my answer. But the actual answer is someone will see a need and fulfill it, eventually. Or you teach someone so they can fill in for you so they can take over at some point.
We must nurture and grow our ministries in this way.
We all have the power to empower others so we can take some time to empower ourselves. During times of self-care ministries thrive, survive, maybe even change for the better. In our self-care renewal we may return with vibrant new energy. While we take a break, sometimes new things blossom from having a different perspective. In either way self-care is important. God can do what I cannot do, in our presence and in our absence.
if you recall our disciples have been in a boat on the sea before. The storm and the waves were over powering them before. The first time they were afraid of the storm. This time they were afraid of the unknown coming towards them.
Jesus had taught them that a bit of stormy weather is nothing to fear. This time, by evening time, the boat had been battered by waves and forced way out for the wind was against them.” Yet they could handle it.
“Unable to escape the crowds, Jesus is so starving for self-care that he sends his disciples away in a boat, alone cross the lake before nightfall. Jesus risks being stranded without a boat. The narrator states that in the evening the boat carrying the disciples was battered by the waves and far from the shore (Matthew 14:23). Jesus had no boat. And Jesus stayed put. He did not panic; he chose to be fully present in his space and time alone (monos). We can’t jump for every storm and embody self-care too! Perhaps, God has another plan and another woman or man or a way out of no way! Jesus dismissed the crowds and sought a solitary place up in the mountain where he talked to God and rested. After Jesus’ spirit, mind, and body were rejuvenated, Jesus arose early in the morning -- refreshed and looking good, I imagine -- and walked on the sea toward his disciples. But the disciples think that Jesus is a ghost. Terrified, they scream. “Instantly, Jesus said to them, ‘Stay calm, it is I; don’t be afraid.’ Peter responds, ‘Master, if it is really you, command me to join you on the water.’ Jesus responded, ‘Come! [if you insist]’” (Matthew 14:27-28, my translation). Peter disembarks onto the water and walks around a bit and heads toward Jesus. Let’s be real. Feeding a mass of people with a few loaves of bread and fish is not the same as walking on water!”
Peter, the rock, learns the hard way that it is one thing to be in a boat being tossed by waves with a bunch of other people than it is to be standing out, alone in the tumult. “It is a whole other matter to be on the water surrounded by strong winds and all by yourself, without others who share in the same vulnerability. Jesus and Peter were not “in the same boat”; Jesus had evidently walked on the choppy sea of distress for some distance, from shore to boat in the fierce winds. Peter had not. Yes, Jesus chastised Peter when he notices the winds and begins to sink; Jesus accuses him of doubting and having little faith. Sometimes faith is seeing the boat for what it is -- a shared experience and the opportunity to lean on one another, to encourage each other in the storm while waiting on God.”
To take the metaphor a bit further, when you take time to get out of the boat…leave the storm and the tumult to the others. Maybe Peters faith, Peter’s doubt, was that he left the others behind and they could not handle the storm without him? That’s a little arrogant. But believing you can walk on water because God can isn’t?
None of us can walk on water. Jesus could and he did it so much better after he had some prayer and quiet time and relaxation. None of us are Jesus!
“Jesus, like many people called into ministry, had a passion for the people and sometimes passion and enthusiasm pushes self-care to the curb. A fully embodied ministry is one characterized by self-care. Self-care is a divine gift. Jesus was human like us and could convince himself that there is only one person and one way to fulfill the significant and daunting needs of the masses. Interestingly, our story is followed by a summary of the many crowds that pursued Jesus on the other side of lake. So great is the need and so massive the crowd, that the people themselves imagine a way that this one human being could meet as many of their needs as possible -- by touching the fringe of his cloak. What happens when the fringes wear out?”
This story many preachers will focus on Peter. “you of little faith, why did you doubt?” It doesn’t say exactly what he doubted which allows room for my conjecture.
“Perhaps it is as significant that Jesus is able to walk on the water so as to reengage in his ministry after some much needed self-care. Perhaps, Jesus looks like a ghost because the Jesus that the disciples left on the other side of the sea looked overworked, fatigued, drab, and unsteady. Perhaps they were not accustomed to seeing Jesus look so rested, in control, and peaceful; thus, they think he is a ghost. Sometimes we are haunted by visions of our better selves. Our better selves are such an improbability for us that to see it, to envision it and what it may take to achieve our better selves is a haunting. We are haunted by better days that seem to escape us. Sometimes we get ourselves in such a rut of not taking care of ourselves, of not exercising, of not sleeping well or barely sleeping, of not eating properly, that to live otherwise haunts us. Bell hooks in her book Sisters of the Yam states that self-care is a political act of resistance for black women. Self-care may be a political act of resistance for anyone overwhelmed by challenges caused by the superman or superwoman syndrome and/or by the perennial onslaught of sexism, racism, classism, heterosexism, disability, or other forms of oppression (and being the oppressor is destructive as well).
After his time of self-care, Jesus is empowered from his head to the sole of his water-walking feet and at the fringe of his garment (14:34-36). When Jesus reaches land he doesn’t have to do all the heavy lifting; the people empower themselves and are healed by merely touching the hem of his cloak, something that hadn’t happened since the early part of his ministry (Matthew 9:20-21).”
I know all this is hard to think about especially in this time of safe distancing and, for many, isolation. But even if it is just a road trip to an isolated spot an hour away, heck 5 minutes away, it can nurture your souls and your well-being.
So Please take time, take care of yourself and whatever you do…do not try to walk on water!
A call to prayer
O God, hear our cries:
for those who hunger,
and those who are full;
for those who need you desperately,
and those who feel no need for you;
for those who wrestle with the impact
of being your blessed children;
for those who are unaware of your offered blessing;
and for concerns that are too difficult to express.
Hear our cries,
O God of our salvation. Amen.
Hear Comes Jesus
Here comes Jesus, see Him walking on the water,
He'll lift you up and He'll help you to stand;
Oh, here comes Jesus,
He's the Master of the waves that roll.
here comes Jesus, He’ll make you whole.
Let us pray the prayer Jesus taught us
Our Creator, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kin-dom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kin-dom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen
Invitation to the Offering
Christ reminds us that our treasures, our gifts from God,
are most beneficial when they are used for the kingdom of God.
May this be the time when we bring forth our gifts to be blessed by God.
Doxology #778 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9My-_5s6bBQ
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise God, all creatures here below;
Praise God for all that love has done;
Creator Christ, and Spirit, one.
Almighty God, there are treasures all around us—
family, friends, your abiding presence,
and the love of Christ Jesus.
Bless these gifts we return to you now.
that others might come to know
the true treasures of your love and grace.
In your holy name, we pray. Amen.
The office is open for regular hours
We are accepting donations for the kidz cupboard and the food pantry
I am available for one on one virtual visits or phone calls if you need any prayer we will be together again one day, but until then remember you are the hands and the feet of our lord in this world and in this world of no physical contact we can still smile, wave, chat, check in
My Life flows on in Endless song #476 vs 1-3
Go forth knowing that you are part of God’s family.
Go forth proclaiming the praises of God.
Go forth in the assurance that Christ is always with us.
Go forth singing, Loud and Proud, wherever you are.
Just a note Bible study is on summer leave…
Next Sunday, Aug. 2nd, is Communion Sunday; set a sacred space aside with bread and juice, or cracker and water, whatever you have on hand to make the ritual meaning full