I'm fairly certain that if I were in a storm-tossed boat fearing for my life, and I looked out across the water and saw someone walking ON water coming TOWARD me, that I might think there's a ghost on the water. I'm not sure I believe in ghosts, but at that point, as with anyone in a fear-for-my-life situation, I'm sure I would believe in practically anything. Such is the case in the story of Jesus walking on water in Matthew 14:22-33.
I won't get into the literalness of this story. I will suggest, however, the deep truth of this story. Peter asks, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." Jesus responds: "Come." And Peter does. And for a brief instant -- almost like an Acme cartoon of yore -- he walks on the water before slipping in and begging for help. It's a testimony to Jesus' sense of humor that shortly after this story, Jesus gives Peter the name "Cephas," which means, "rock" -- as in, "sinks like a rock." Yet, as builders understand, rocks are also good foundations.
Much of what our faith commands of us is impossible. "Feed the poor." "Clothe the naked." "Heal the sick." We could try tackling them head on, but direct charity doesn't seem to solve the long-term issues facing our community. Instead, we're called to tackle the systemic issues that contribute to the visible problems. We can feel as if we're in a perfect storm, being asked by God to do an impossible thing. We have just enough faith to hear the command to do something, but once we step out of our boats, we lose confidence in our actions. What we're doing runs counter to what we have been taught.
This Sunday, we'll explore what it means to walk on water: to be persistent, keep our resolve, and have more than a little faith. I've seen this community blossom into one of joy despite the real struggles facing our community. And perhaps you've noticed that the greater the struggle, the more we put into it, despite the despair that is felt at times, the joy we experience together has been far greater.
See you Sunday, and bring a friend.