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    Jul 29, 2018

    Proper 11b - Time to Step Out of the Boat

    Preacher: The Rev. Joan Mason, Rector

    Series: Rector

    Category: Weekly Sermon


    Gospel – John 6: 1-21

    Jesus and the disciples had just had a full day of work feeding thousands.  They were tired, and Jesus withdrew to the mountain by himself.  Later, the disciples leave on their own by boat across the sea.  A storm comes up and the sea becomes very rough with high winds.  They are about 3 or 4 miles out, very afraid, and they see Jesus walking towards them on the water.  Walking. On. Water… as if this is the most natural thing in the world.  Well, he is the Messiah after all.  But wait!  It happens a second time. 

    In St. Matthew’s version of this same account (MT 14: 22-33), Simon Peter is one of the disciples in the boat, and at Jesus’ invitation, he gets out of the boat and walks on water too!!  It doesn’t last long, but he does it.  He was doing fine until he takes his eyes off Jesus and becomes preoccupied with the strong winds.  And with that, he begins to sink.  Did you ever stop to really think about this?  Peter did it – he walked on water!!  Forget about the joke that he knew where the rocks were.  No, he actually did it.  Peter isn’t the Messiah.  He’s a human being, and yet he walked on water. 

    I’ve often wondered, what did it take for Peter to put his foot over the side of that boat and take the first step into the sea?  How did he know he wouldn’t sink?  Did he even think about it, or did he just do it?  I think he knew, in the innermost part of his being, that if Jesus asked him to do something, he would be given the power to accomplish what he was being asked to do.  Or maybe more simply, if Jesus asked, he obeyed. So when Jesus called to him that night, he immediately obeyed, stepping out of the boat to walk to Jesus.

    Peter had a long track record with Jesus.  Peter had not only seen Jesus do miraculous things, Peter had also done similar work in Jesus’ name.  He and the other disciples cured the sick, raised the dead, cleansed the lepers, and cast out demons, not of their own power, but in Jesus’ name.  He knew the power of Jesus from his own experience.  Remember he had dropped everything (his fishing nets, his job, his day to day routine) to follow Jesus, and he was still doing this in the boat that day.  Giving no thought to the logic of the request, Jesus said come, and Peter walked to him on the water.  He put his life in Jesus’ hands with full obedience, faithfulness and trust.

    You are getting ready to start your Interim period as you search for your new Rector.  Jesus is out ahead of you, beckoning you, calling you to follow.  He is saying, “Take a step into the unknown.  Keep your eyes on me and don’t look down.”  That may feel scary, but it’s only scary when you look away.  I think Jesus is always asking us to keep our eyes on him and to step out of the boat.  When we take our eyes off of him, we realize just how impossible a task may seem.  Our human minds may say it can’t be done, so we give up and start sinking—proving us right.  It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

    Instead, live a life of miraculous expectation.  As you prepare to move into the Interim process, I could not be sending you off with a better Scripture.  Put your life in his hands.  Keep your eyes on Jesus and do not look down at the rough water and high waves.  Do what He tells you to do, even if it seems impossible.  Trust in his power, not your own, to get you through.  Do not be afraid to step out of the boat.  Be courageous.  More importantly, be obedient and faithful.  And then expect that He will do miracles among you and through you. 

    Good people of Christ Church, Toms River, follow Jesus and be a church of miraculous expectations. And may God bless you, and this Parish, now and always.