Get Out of the Boat!

Jesus walking on water. What’s that have to do with you? A lot. If we stay in our “comfort zones” we’ll never get out of the boat and at least try to walk on water. Let’s get uncomfortable!

(The first five minutes of the sermon didn’t get recorded so I’ve written a synopsis of it and then the rest can be listened to on the audio link.)

Get Out of the Boat!

I’ve got a confession to make: I don’t always remember to pray. No, it’s true. I often get really busy or I get really absorbed in my problems and my prayer life and spiritual practices go out the window. I stop doing them so I can put all my energy into dealing with what’s on my plate. I don’t want to waste my time praying. I think I have to give all my attention, time and energy to my problems.

Sometimes when I’m dealing with some real serious stuff in my life, you know, real challenges (“I didn’t sign up for this sort of thing”) I feel they are an aberration and that they just need to be taken care of so I can get back to life. That they are a nuisance. A bother. That they aren’t supposed to happen. That they’re not part of life. Sometimes I can only see the bad–the negative stuff. And I create these dichotomies of good/bad; God/not God; spiritual/not spiritual.

Sometimes I look around (you might relate to this) and I think: “who are these people?” “What are they doing in my life?”

I hold onto my old, familiar habits and way of doing things even when they’re not working out so well. But I know them. They’re familiar. They’re mine! I’ll hear about other ways of being or doing things, but get a little scared about doing something unfamiliar. “Well, maybe……maybe that’d be good………for somebody else!”

Anyone else ever have these feelings? Yeah?……..

“Can’t wait for my kid to get through being a teenager so that the good boy I remember will come back?”

Or any of the youth: “I don’t want to go by myself. I won’t know anybody there.”

Does anyone here this morning have an annoying co-worker? (I don’t!) Maybe that woman in the next cubicle who talks too loud on her cell phone….or all day long plays an 80’s nostalgia music station on Pandora……Hold On To the Night – Richard Marx….Hurts So Good – John Cougar….Eye of the Tiger….You find her annoying but are afraid to say anything.

Or how about food: fried this and fried that….loaded with fat…you know it’s not healthy, but that other stuff..”I don’t know how to cook it.” You’ve got fear about changing your diet.

Or here at church: “I’d love to go on a mission trip, but I don’t want to have to share a bathroom.” Bathroom? “Who said anything about there being a bathroom?”

Well, Jesus taught us about how to handle situations like this….well, maybe not Pandora-listening co-workers or outhouses.

I can identify with Jesus in both last week’s and this week’s gospel reading. This guy so needs some down time. He needs to be alone. He needs solitude. He needs to be restored.
Last week he was so desperate for a bit of rest that he got some guy with a boat to take him to a deserted place so he could be by himself. But that didn’t happen, did it? No. The disciples found out where he was, high-tailed it there, and then thousands of people got wind of his whereabouts and also found their way to that deserted place.

(press the play button to listen to the rest of the sermon)


Matthew 14:22-33

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he sent the crowds away. After he had sent them away, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, tossed 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, I am here; 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 waters, 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 stretched out his hand and took hold of him, saying, “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.”

by Susan Griffin

It all happened on the water
Jesus’ walking
the fishermen watching
from their boats.
When they picked up their nets
they half expected
a miraculous catch
but it was as ordinary
as the rest of the day.
Only some of them understood.
This is how it always is
with a vision.
Jesus walked on the water
only once.
This wasn’t science.
What was it the fishermen were
supposed to see.
A man moving over the surface
of the sea as if it were
some other substance like ground.
Was this all there was?
Picture yourself
you are out there on the water
you look at the horizon.
You are so used to seeing that part
of the sky it’s become
part of your eyes.
Then you blink, staring
you turn to shake your companion.
This was not what you expected to see.
Not even what you wished for.
What difference does it make
a man walking on the water?
But even so the day
going on as it usually does
is cut with a certain clarity
and you, you feel an inexplicable
happiness, the water
beneath you, the
bright air above.

How do you feel about this?

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