Musings from the Manse

 

A big week ahead for the children in our communities and families! School starts again and that is going to be strange. They haven’t been in school for a little over 5 months. So there are going to be some mixed feelings. For some, there will be a degree of excitement at a new adventure. They might also feel a bit apprehensive. It’s been a while and learning has been somewhat different. They might not have seen their friends for a while. They will all be wondering what is it going to be like? So, a real mixture of feelings!

Our Scripture this week (Matthew Ch 14 vs 22-33) tells us of a time when that idea of a real mixture of feelings could describe, quite accurately, the emotional state of Jesus’ disciples. They were in a boat in the middle of Lake Galilee. Jesus had sent them on ahead of him because he wanted to be alone to have his own prayer time. He had just spent time healing many and miraculously feeding a very large crowd with just five loaves and two fish. He needed to ‘recharge his batteries’ in conversation with his Father.

So the disciples were out on the lake, not enjoying a smooth sail because “the wind was against them” Suddenly, out of nowhere, a figure appeared to be walking towards them across the water! Naturally they were afraid and immediately assumed it was a ghost – what else could walk on water? Jesus spoke to them to calm their fears.

Peter, the ever-bold Peter, wanted a bit more proof. “If it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” So Jesus issued the invitation – Come. How often do we hear that simple invitation offered to people? Peter, full of belief, leaves the boat and starts walking towards Jesus. As long as he keeps his eyes fixed on Jesus, he is fine but he starts to take notice of the conditions round about him and he loses that belief. He calls out to Jesus for salvation and, of course, he receives it.
Jesus ponders why Peter started to doubt but gets him back safely into the boat. The disciples are full of wonder and make the claim: “truly, you are the Son of God.” They have travelled with this man, watched him and learned from him and now they have a moment of true revelation – they know exactly who he is!
So there they are, having experienced fear, wonder and now a sense of certainty about this man who is their leader. All in the space of few minutes or so. Add to that the amazement they must have felt at the feeding of the 5,000+ crowd and you can see that they would have a real mixture of feelings to deal with.
However, these feelings aren’t particularly unusual. I think that we all experience them – and sometimes all in a short space of time. This may very well have been heightened for us during this time of Covid-19. I think of those who have been shielding and have now been freed from the restriction of having to stay at home and not socialise. I am sure that they are very happy but perhaps that happiness is tinged with a little apprehension. It is not easy venturing out after you have lived in near isolation for a while.
I know that when I have been shopping in Perth, it has been both exciting and a bit fearful. Would people keep a social distance? Would they wear masks? Life does bring its challenges to us, and particularly at the moment.
Here in this story of Jesus walking on the water, we are provided with the tools to help manage life in all its complexities. Know that Jesus is with you at all times but especially when “the wind seems to be against you.” He is not an apparition but a real presence beside you. The secret to achieving what you want is to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus!

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I think that is very important in this present time. Our thinking about church has been challenged. We have had to find different ways of ‘being church’ There has been lots of creativity expressed as churches try to reach out to their members. The main point is that church still continues without a building, and by fixing our attention on Jesus and his mission we are enabled to continue to do his work

It is when we start to let other factors affect us that we start to lose faith and drive and then we begin to ‘sink below the waves’. We must never doubt that we have the ability to carry out the task we have been given. We do need to look to Jesus for help and for the power he gives us through the Holy Spirit.
We need to remind ourselves of that revelation which was voiced by the disciples “truly, you are the Son of God” This is what we are trying to share with others. This is the man who brings salvation to you. This is the man who will stop you sinking below the waves. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus

Prayer

Living God, who cares for us in all aspects of our lives
Teach us to find time for you each day, so that we hear your voice and discern your will.
Teach us to step back and take stock, allowing your greatness to overwhelm us anew so that we might step forward in faith, strengthened in spirit, and equipped to do whatever it is that you might ask of us.
Remind us, Lord, of your saving power that goes with us to protect us whenever we are keeping our eyes fixed on your purpose, and remind us of your care for each one of your children.
God our Saviour, we pray that you will come to the aid of your people who place their hope and trust in you as we recall your saving power in your mighty acts;
May those for who we pray know your presence to be with them and experience your help for them in their time of need.
We pray for all who feel as if they are sinking under a tide of trouble at present, reach out and bring them to safety.
We remember before you all who are struggling with health issues at this time; all who are mourning the loss of a loved one; those who have lost jobs because of our present economic circumstances and those who are anxious about the future, bring them peace of mind and a sense of your calming presence.
We pray, Lord, for all children who will be returning to school and for their teachers. We pray that the return will be exciting and that any nerves will soon be calmed. Keep them safe, we pray, and let life assume some normality for them.
Lord, we bring before you the awful tragedy in Beirut and pray for all who have been affected, those who have lost loved ones; those who have been injured; those who have lost their homes and possessions; all front-line workers who are doing their best in very difficult circumstances. We pray that the world will respond with compassion to their plight
Lord God, we recall your love for us in all that you have done from the beginning of creation until now. May we ever look to you for inspiration as we go out into this world to share the good news of salvation. Help us always to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.
Amen

Rev Nik Wooller

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