Thursday's Thought for Sunday's Service 

August 10, 2017

Dear Friends,

 

This week’s Thursday’s Thought for Sunday’s Service is based upon Matthew 14:22-33:

“Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.””     (Matthew 14:22–33, NIV)

Looking around one doesn’t have to see very far to understand intractable problems greater than ourselves.  It isn’t so easy, living in this world.  We are never far from discouragement, even despair.  “Lord, save me!” is an exclamation that could relate to most anyone. 

What initially strikes me about this passage is how Jesus moves toward Peter.  It's like how an individual who initially is a way off, draws close. One who may have been distant in our thinking, now takes on a greater importance.

For example, I think of a neighbor who makes his or her way to seek me out to ask a question, to borrow something, or simply for an unplanned visit – I make an adjustment to accommodate, interrupting and stopping what I was doing or thinking about.  In this, I still sometimes struggle to fully focus on one who may call at my door, even though their visit may also ultimately lift my spirits.  

Comparing what’s different about this passage to when Jesus makes his way toward the disciples in a similar fashion, is where the encounter takes place… on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus walks on the water toward the disciples who are in a boat away from the shore. In addition to this, the weather is windy and the boat is being buffeted by the waves.

What is characterized seems impossible, comical, and fanciful.  Why should this passage inspire any firm stride or measure from a reader, considering other choices one might have at hand?  Peter, who later becomes the legacy upon which the Church is built, is revealed in this moment as ineffective in his attempt at a faithful response.  Described as trying to emulate Jesus by getting out of the boat to at least meet him partway during a stormy sea, one is likely to think, “Is any wonder that he starts to sink?”  Still the passage indicates that he’s not quite a total failure.

 

When Peter saw the Lord come toward him face to face,

it seemed to reduce fear, inspire, even erase

               apprehensive thinking,                when he chanced, stepped…

so when trouble occurred, it also prepped

    understanding that copes with qualms     and doubt,

encouraging movement from in to out.

 

                Despite fearing, failing                 the wind and the waves,

it’s rescue by Jesus that redeems and saves.

 

Rev. Richard Wagner