The Voice Of The Lord
The Rev. Jon Roberts
Good Shepherd Episcopal Church
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. 25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Walking on Water by Lewis Bowman
The voice of the Lord always reaches us in the midst of our fear.
In the close up encounters of our own life, there have been things
that make us cry out and shake.
Children, when asked what makes them fearful, may come up with the following responses: thunderstorms, bee stings, or monsters lurking in the closet. Not too far distant are the responses of the adults who say,
hurricanes, painful surgeries, or being assaulted by a crook. The New York Times, some time ago, decided to add, yet another, to our list of fears. They mention that it is something treated quietly, …confidentially. In their news article they revealed that corporate executives had become increasingly fearful over something that was sweeping over, and threatening their performance at work. It wasn’t a fear of stagnant, or decreasing profits. It wasn’t that they feared the challenges of supply and demand, or company layoffs. Of all things, they feared the advances of technology. For those trained before the computer age, in the age of technology, they shrunk in their insecurity,
feeling left behind. Young graduates coming right out of college seemed to know everything about computers. But for those who had been in the business for years, their sudden embarrassment turned into a weakness they could no longer seem to handle.
Quietly, confidentially, they resorted to private tutoring. They appealed to one-on-one private sessions, where a quiet, voice of encouragement, led them through the rough water of: emails, powerpoint presentations, spreadsheets, and surfing the internet.
Today, we have come to question the value of such technology. Has it greatly improved the relational aspects of life? As Christians, we would shudder at the thought of God relying exclusively on technology. What would it be like if God decided to implement a website, or worse, install voice mail? Imagine praying and hearing the following: “Thank you for calling heaven.
For English press 1
For Spanish press 2
For all other languages, press 3
Please select one of the following options:
Press 1 for request
Press 2 for thanksgiving
Press 3 for complaints
Press 4 for all others”
After a good long wait, while listening to the Sanctus playing over and over again with great cheerfulness, you hear this:
“I am sorry, all our Angels and Saints are busy helping other sinners right now. However, your prayer is important to us and we will answer it in the order it was received. Please stay on the line.
If you would like to speak to:
God, press 1
Jesus, press 2
Holy spirit, press 3
To find a loved one that has been assigned to heaven press 5, then enter his social security # followed by the pound sign.
Our computers show that you have already been prayed for today, please hang up and call again tomorrow. The office is now closed for the weekend to observe a religious holiday. If you are calling after hours and need emergency assistance, please contact your local pastor.
Thank you and have a heavenly day.”
In our day to day encounters, when there are things that make us cry out and shake, we deserve to hear a more personal message.
In our Gospel today, according to Matthew, we hear such a message.
For reasons unknown, the disciples are sent away on a boat by our Lord. Perhaps they did not have the skills necessary, at that time, to deal with the large group of needy people on the shore. There is distance now between them. Jesus told them he would catch up and for them to go across the lake. In the course of time between sundown and sunrise, where do we find them. Jesus is up on a mountain. The disciples are in the boat. Then, there is a shift in the wind. It begins to blow more strongly as a storm comes through the pass. The disciples are now in the worst situation, as waves develop and wash over the bow of their boat. Fishermen are used to such things. Peter, James, and John would have been able to settle everyone down. They had the skill to manage the group.
But then, there was something they were not prepared to handle.
Through the thickness of the dark cloud that fell upon the lake, through the heavy rain, and wind driven waves, they saw something. No, they saw “someone” moving towards them. “It can not be”, as the disciple squinted and wiped their eyes. Soon, all forgot what they were doing, futile oaring against a lake that rolled them every which way;
bailing out a bucket of water, only to have ten more wash in. They loosened their oars, their buckets, and set their sight on what was now in plain view. It was the Christ. It was ghostly, it was Godly, as they saw a human form walk up to them, whose feet never sunk below the water. It was only by the voice of the Lord, that they were reeled back,
“Take heart, it is I”. Peter, listening to his voice, reached out for his hand. For a mere step, he transcended above this Earth stepping on water.
So often this passage of scripture reinforces our need, simply, “to have more faith.” We say, “If Peter would have kept his eyes on Jesus, then he would have walked further, never sinking.” What does this teach us? That if we take our eyes off God we don’t have enough faith? That we will never receive the promises of heaven? Certainly not. God knows we are human. He made us after all. We can’t keep our eyes on him every moment of the day. This has nothing to do with having more faith.
It has everything to do with where we put our faith. Who walked on the water that evening? The one who came to the disciples, is the same one who we encounter today. Crying, shaking, all of us hope to be wisped away from our advancing fears. If we are like the disciples, then the boat represents the Church. The waves represent the tribulations we currently are in. We are nothing more than a storm-tossed piece of bark, always hoping to be taken up and carved into something beautiful. Instead of taking us out of the water, God says, “move over, I’m coming in to join you.” Walking on the water,
The incarnate God,
Fully divine in the spirit,
Fully human in the flesh,
Continues to visit us, living within His Holy Church;
Giving us private, one-on-one instruction.
Truly, the Son of God is worthy of our praise and adoration.
Invite Him to come into our boat.
Let us listen to His voice.