and Worship Resources
Sunday after Pentecost
Sermon and Worship Resources
Closing Prayer / Benediction (by James Dillet Freeman)
The light of God surrounds me;
The love of God enfolds me;
The power of God protects me;
The presence of God watches over me.
Wherever I am, God is!
Discerning Jesus in the Storm
based on Matthew 14:22-33
Rev. Karen A. Goltz
A few years ago I had the
privilege of serving as chaplain for family camp at a Lutheran Bible Camp. One
of my duties was to lead bible study each morning at the conference center. We
had a pretty good turn-out, with a core group of about eight or so people who
showed up every day, and several others who came sometimes. As is usually the
case, one of the regular attendees was a real character. You know the type—a
real joker with a heart of gold who gives everyone a hard time and is
disappointed if we don’t give him one back, and who always asks these blunt,
direct questions and expects blunt, direct answers in return. On Friday, the
last day of bible study, he complained that all the answers to his questions
were abstract, and he didn’t do well with abstract.
His complaint was valid. But
there wasn’t much I could do about it. His questions were mostly seeking clear,
concrete directions on what to do in certain situations. But the situations he
was concerned about aren’t directly addressed in the bible; all we had were
broad statements by Jesus that we’re left to interpret what they mean for us
Take today’s gospel lesson, for
example. We have Peter and the other disciples in a boat in the middle of the
night, with a storm raging around them. Jesus has gone off to pray, and, having
finished, is walking across the water to catch up with the boat. The disciples
see him and are terrified, thinking maybe they’re seeing a ghost, at which point
he tells them that it’s him, and not to be afraid. Peter asks him to prove it
by calling him out on the water, and Jesus says, “OK, come on.” So Peter steps
out of the boat and starts walking on the water toward Jesus, but partway there
notices the storm, gets scared, and starts to sink. In his fear he cries out to
Jesus for help, and Jesus reaches out a hand and saves him. Jesus says, “You of
little faith, why did you doubt?” Then they both get back into the boat,
everyone worships him and calls him the Son of God, and they continue on their
It’s an abstract story, and we
tend to interpret it abstractly. We take from this story that we’re supposed to
be like Peter and ask for Jesus’ command or will. Once we receive it we’re to
step out in faith, even when we’re called to do something seemingly impossible
like walking on water. If we take our eyes off Jesus and let ourselves worry
about other things around us, we’ll begin to sink or fail, but even then if we
call out to Jesus for help, he’ll be there, and he won’t let us fall, because he
is the Son of God. That’s our lesson for today.
OK. Great. Let’s get started.
First off, how do I ask Jesus to tell me his will?
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