The community of faith is important to each of us. We have times of doubt. We experience times where we wonder what God is up to in our lives. We need our community of faith to support each other, to grow in faith together, to enjoy time with one another.
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 Peter noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” - Matthew 14:28-30
As I ponder Peter’s circumstance, I am drawn to Peter’s courage. He steps out on his own, completely trusting that Jesus will take care of him. What faith, what confidence in Jesus. But then, it does not take long for me to get practical. This is a stupid thing to do Peter! You are taking an unnecessary risk! Get practical Peter! You are only human! People do not walk on water, and you are not the exception!
Barbara Brown Taylor, an Episcopalian priest and author, has some thoughts about Peter’s situation: “What if Peter had not sunk? What if he jumped out of the boat with perfect confidence, landed with both feet flat on the water and smiled across the waves at Jesus? What if the other disciples had followed suit, piling out of the boat after him? It would be a different story. It might even be a better story, but it would not be a story about us.” (The Seeds of Heaven)
It would not be a story about us and how much we are like Peter and that sinking feeling is too familiar. Sometimes we succeed at our endeavors and sometimes we fail. Sometimes we go straight forward into challenges and all is well, and other times we struggle to keep our heads above water and just keep treading. We allow ourselves to be vulnerable and take risks because the outcome is worth it.
Today, the challenges are great, and the risks are many. Today we are living in uncharted territory. And we are only human, and we feel like we are sinking. Our students, faculty, and school workers are facing challenges not encountered before. Many businesses and services are trying to adapt and survive. Our daily experience is so foreign from just a year ago, but this is the way life is for now. We want Jesus to take us by the hand and lead us through this stormy sea. We are human, and we are longing for something better. Peter’s fear got the better of him. Yet Jesus reaches out to Peter. Jesus is always reaching out to us, in good times and in our fearful times.
Jesus gave Peter a gift that Jesus found valuable in his own life. Jesus gave Peter a community. Each person in the boat finds their friendship with each other to be a gift. In that boat is a small group of people connected to each other through Jesus. Peter has a support system with him in the boat. All the disciples are terrified as they see an unfamiliar image on the water coming toward them. Is it a ghost they wonder? They cry out in fear, and together hear Jesus’ assurance, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter steps out of the boat, following Jesus’ invitation to “Come.” When Peter notices the strong wind, he becomes frightened and begins to sink, crying out to Jesus, “Lord, save me!” Jesus reaches out to Peter saying, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Jesus and Peter return to the boat and join the community in the boat.
The community of faith is important to each of us. We have times of doubt. We experience times where we wonder what God is up to in our lives. We need our community of faith to support each other, to grow in faith together, to enjoy time with one another. Right now, we just want to get back to church. We want to see each other again. We want to worship like we used to – those were the good ole days! As we see countries in Europe consider shutdowns and others tightening up on measures to combat Covid-19, we wonder if this is what is in store for us. The scientists tell us not to let our guard down. Yet we feel vulnerable, and we are sick of living this way.
We can have confidence that Jesus is reaching out to us and with us in the Holy Trinity community. We also have a gift that Jesus gives us; that of living with other followers of Jesus. Small groups in the church community are life-giving. This is the time, if you are not connected to a group in the church, to find one. We are the church, and the church is in the boat. Together we can support each other and enjoy each other’s companionship as we journey through these rough waters of Covid-19, and its effect on our lives.
Now, more than ever, we need each other. So, I invite you and urge you to connect with a ministry of the congregation. We need each other, and if it is not safe to worship together in person, then we need other ministries for connection. Consider a fellowship group, or a Bible study, or a form of serving others. Most groups meet on Zoom or a similar platform. If you have a computer or a smartphone you are a step away from being connected to a group. Click here to get connected. We need each other. We are made for community. Individuals in the church were never meant to go it alone. We are a gift to each other. Be blessed and be a blessing – get connected.
Pastor Pam Schroeder