(Continuing to present both Tracks of the Lectionary)
The story this week focuses on the beloved disciple Peter. He’s one whom most of us can identify with. Impulsive. Headstrong. Cavalier. And yet . . . Peter knew that Jesus could allow him to walk on water, just like Jesus was doing. He was so confident that he just hopped out of the boat and started walking on the waves. So full of faith that Jesus could/would do all things. And then . . . Did Peter get distracted by suddenly feeling a wave splash on his leg? Or perhaps one of the others called out to him? Or perhaps his head told him, “This can’t be happening!” And Peter began to sink. So have you gotten distracted? Did you feel something on your leg? Did someone call out to you? And just how do you deal with it? How do you keep your faith strong and steady? Notice, by the way, that Jesus did not abandon “little faith” Peter, but immediately rescued him. Post your thoughts on our website.
. . . And after he [Jesus] had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
From sermon4kids.com: “As long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, he was walking on the water, but when he took his eyes off of Jesus, he began to sink. As we go through life, there will be some storms. We will encounter some pretty rough water. As long as we keep our eyes upon Jesus and put our trust in him, we will be okay.”
Scripture: August 9, 2020—1 Kings 19:9-18; Psalm 85:8-13; Romans 10:5-15; and Matthew 14:22-33. Illuminating the scripture, an image and audio journey. Track 1 lesson and psalm are Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28 and Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b.
Collect: Grant to us, Lord, we pray, the spirit to think and do always those things that are right, that we, who cannot exist without you, may by you be enabled to live according to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Reflection: After Jesus caught Peter in the water, was Jesus’ question, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” a reproach? When we are facing a great difficulty, do we doubt God’s power? Do we doubt ourselves? Can you recall other biblical stories, or a story from your own life, when God reached out to rescue or to overcome doubt and fear with the gift of increased faith?
Saint Focus: Catherine Winkworth’s story is very interesting. The label for her is “poet”, perhaps because those giving the label couldn’t come up with anything other. But Winkworth was a marvel. She translated German hymns into English so we who sing in English could enjoy them. And there are too many to mention here. BUT please follow the link below to see the list and for more details. [most from the Calendar of the church year according to the Episcopal Church.]
This week, the saints under consideration were:
- 6; The Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ
- 7; John Mason Neale, Priest & Hymnographer, 1866; AND Catherine Winkworth, Poet, 1878
- 8; Dominic, Priest and Friar, 1221
- 9; [Edith Stein (Teresa Benedicta of the Cross)], Philosopher, Monastic & Martyr, 1942
- 10; Lawrence, Deacon, and Martyr at Rome, 258
- 11; Clare, Abbess at Assisi, 1253
- 12; Florence Nightingale, Nurse, Social Reformer, 1910
Eye Candy: “Christ walks on water” (late 20th century), mosaic from St Peter’s Church in Germany; “Reuben saves Joseph” (~1475), from the Biblia Properum at the Royal Danish Library, Denmark; “Christ walks on water” (late 20th century), sculpture from the Crystal Cathedral, California
Ear Worm: “Stand by me” by Tennessee Ernie Ford, by Josephine James, by Elvis Presley; “My soul is anchored in the Lord“, stirring gospel by Douglas Miller; and for fun, “Who is the King of the Jungle“, kid song
Brain Food: In place of the “usual” brain food offerings, follow the link to Spirituality & Practice (S&P)’s “Spiritual Practices for the Coronavirus Pandemic“. S&P offers ways to help yourselves as well as others through the stresses of the pandemic. “Face your fears” is one activity—name one thing you are fearful about (catching the virus, losing a loved one, financial difficulties). Write the one thing on a piece of paper. Then list on the paper the things that describe the fear. Make 33 copies of your piece of paper; all each copy into a “fear ball“. Carry these with you. Whenever you feel your fear arising, take out a “fear ball” and toss it in the nearest trash can. More tactics next week.
Contemporary Parables: “The Truman Show” (1998), “takes his boat to the end of his world and steps out”; “The Apostle” (1997), fall and redemption of man of faith; “Simon Burch” (1998), partial adaptation of A Prayer for Owen Meany. Both book and film are worthy.
God’s math doesn’t work out like human math, and it’s certainly not always compatible with human logic. In reality, it’s always better. This week’s gospel lesson can give us a good “equation” for the nature of Jesus. Write this equation: Jesus > Chaos + Fear + Doubt. In fact, no matter what we put on the side of the equation opposite Jesus, he will always be greater than the sum of anything humankind can come up with. What kinds of chaos, confusion, fears, doubts, and pain that life’s storms are hurling your way? How does Jesus still life’s storms for you? How can you share that with others? (excerpted from “Stay in the boat, steward” at the Stewardship of Life website https://www.stewardshipoflife.org/2017/08/stay-in-the-boat-steward/)
If you wish, share your thoughts on our website.
In today’s liturgy, water is a major symbol. The Gospel reading from Matthew is the account of Peter’s attempt to join Christ in walking on the Sea of Galilee. As Peter’s faith fails and he begins to sink below the waters, he cries to the Lord for help and Jesus rescues him.
Track 1. Today we move ahead in the story of God’s ancient people to the sons of Jacob (now called Israel). The older sons, jealous of Joseph—who is their father’s favorite—sold him into slavery in Egypt, telling their father a lion killed him. Their intention was to get rid of Joseph; God used their action, though, to save the family, as we will see in a few weeks, and ultimately to lead the descendants of all twelve brothers into freedom from Egypt in the Exodus.
Track 2. The Old Testament reading is the story of Elijah’s meeting with God in the eloquent silence that drowns out all other sounds. This famous story underlines the unexpectedness of our encounters with God. Like Peter, and Elijah, we need to be on our guard—God is about where we least expect it!
We also continue to read the Epistle to the Romans. In this part of Romans, Paul is dealing with his sorrow that many of his fellow Jews have not accepted Jesus as Christ but he does not believe that God has rejected them. All who turn to God in faith belong to God and there is no distinction, for all are one in Christ who have called on the name of the Lord.
Water in the scriptures is not only a symbol of life, but also a symbol of death. As Israel passed from death into new life at the Red Sea, so we gather as a community that has passed with Jesus from death into resurrection in the waters of baptism.
From The Rite Light: Reflections on the Sunday Readings and Seasons of the Church Year. Copyright © 2007 by Michael W. Merriman. Church Publishing Incorporated, New York.