Message for the 11th Sunday after Pentecost on Matthew 14:22-23 at St. Luke's Lutheran Church, Richardson, Texas. It is also Blessing of the Backpacks, Sunday School Teacher Installation, and Installation of the Family Ministries Director, Building Manager, and new Youth Leader, a Baptism and a Community Party and Waterslide after church!
Almost every message we hear about this passage is about Peter having the guts to get out of the boat to try to walk on water, and that’s a good message. But today, we are going to look from a different view. I wonder if the smartest thing to do in the middle of a storm is to get out of the boat? Usually the best thing to do is to rely on each other and keep one another safe in the midst of the storm. But not Peter. Is he thinking about anyone else? How do you think his behavior looks to everyone else inside the boat?
Theologian Mitzi Smith reminds us, “Sometimes we want a miracle for ourselves at the expense of others who are in the same boat as we are.”
Jesus indulges him, but Peter does not last long when the winds blow and the storm is a strong as ever. He can only do what all of us must do at some point in our lives, and cry out, “Lord, Save me!”
And of course, Jesus does save Peter--from his fear, his doubt, his selfishness in front of the other disciples. But it’s what happens next that is the real point of the story that we never emphasize.
Jesus and Peter climb into the boat and it is only when they are in the boat, together with all the disciples that the wind ceases, and the storm stops.
Being in the boat together with Jesus—that’s when things really change, that’s when Jesus calms the storm, that’s when life is manageable, that’s when the storms of life are not overwhelming—when we are living in the boat with the community of disciples with Jesus by or side.
Instead of me preaching much more about this—we are going to live the sermon together—embodying the message—in this service and in our event after church. You essentially are the preached Word today, because we are living out what it means to be in the boat together with Jesus.And we are going to start by Installing our Christian Education Staff & Teachers. [Installation of Teachers & Staff].
We can only teach our children how to follow Jesus by being in the boat together with Jesus.We will do this again by blessing the children with their backpacks for a new school year. Everybody’s children are in the boat with us, and so is our community, and we extend the blessing of Jesus out into our community. We want our children to know, that wherever they go, our love, the love of Jesus and our prayers always go with them. Even when they’re not here on Sunday, we are still in the same boat together. Any family can call on any one of us for help if they need it during the week. Our new bag tags this year say, "God's got your back!" There are plenty to go around, so please take one for your purse or brief case. [Blessing of the Backpacks & new tags]
Jayne and her family are already in the boat with us, and Baptism is the official welcome! Jesus loves us all, and today we celebrate that this is true for Jayne in particular! [Baptism of Jayne Marie, a Sunday School student!]
Now my image of this story—is what would have happened if Peter would have said, Lord bid US to come to you on the water, instead of ME.
It would have been a grand experiment—All 12 disciples getting out of the boat together—holding hands or locking elbows—they all could have walked on the water together. Maybe if it were all of them doing it together, Peter would not have so easily looked at the storm instead of keeping his eyes on Jesus. Maybe feeling his brother’s hands in his, he would have felt their strength, known that he was not standing against the storm alone; maybe he would have kept his eyes looking forward at Jesus, rather than over at the wind. That would have been a miracle to behold—12 disciples walking water—arm in arm!
That’s the image I have of us moving forward as St. Luke’s!
We are starting a Spiritual Growth Challenge in September and we are launching Life Groups—so that none of us has to try to do life and weather the storms that come up alone. There will more information in the next few weeks, but I want to get the idea out there that Jesus designed us to do life together.
Groups can decide when and how often to meet. But the idea is to have a group that you build deep trust with over time, who are there for you, pray with you, and will cry out, “Lord, save me” with you when you feel like you are sinking—that is what I call a school of love.
More storms will come—literally and metaphorically—that is life, and it will be ok, because we are together with Jesus. Sometimes we will try new things and we will step out together, arm in arm with our eyes on Jesus.
Who knows what kind of miracles Jesus has in store for our future—it might even be better than a whole group walking on water. I am excited to find out—I hope you are, too.
Image: Sharon Ang, pixabay