Here is the worship service for this upcoming Sunday, August 9th, 2020, the 10th Sunday after Pentecost.
The worship bulletin can be found here. This will have all the words for the liturgy as well as my sermon, but I’ve also posted the sermon below for easy reference.
May God speak to you through worship and prayer!
God of our present trouble and promised triumph, open our eyes to see you in the midst of our struggles. Open our ears to hear your words of invitation and assurance. Open our minds to recall your wonderful works and miracles. Open our hearts to glory in your name and seek strength in your Word, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
So let’s recap how 2020 has been going so far. On second thought, let’s not, because seriously that would be just so depressing. This year has been so bad that the internet has been watching the skies for the impending alien attack as that would just make sense considering how things have been going.
And I know I’ve talked about this a few times already during this pandemic. I’ve already talked about how much this year has sucked so far. I’ve talked about it and have said that it’ll get better. Well, so far I’ve been wrong. It hasn’t gotten better yet, maybe a little about a month or so ago. But now, especially this past week, it seems like things have gotten worse.
COVID cases are up in BC. The bodycam video that recorded the events that led to George Floyd’s death was released and it just deepened the divide between the right and the left. And of course if you get my emails, you’ll know that there have been a few deaths connected to our congregation this past week as well. So yeah, this year has been getting worse, and many fear that the worst is yet to come.
So what’s the deal? Why haven’t things gotten better yet? Weren’t we promised green pastures and still waters? Well it’s been more like lava fields and lava rivers than anything else.
Many of the themes we got in the past number of weeks talked about this too. Rest, blessing, healing, welcome. But when the going gets tough, and let’s be honest, the going has been pretty tough for a while now, but when the going gets tough it’s like we just want to curl up and cower in a corner. We didn’t see any rest and looking ahead it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting any. We don’t feel blessed with the way things are right now. There hasn’t really been any healing as it is almost like we’re being eaten alive, bite by excruciating bite. And it doesn’t really feel all that welcoming when we aren’t even allowed to worship in the church building. So what gives? Things are going from bad to worse, and from worse to unbelievably awful.
The thing is, I don’t think we were promised that we’d be without problems. We weren’t promised a worry-free life. We weren’t promised a euphoric utopia where the fields were filled with fried chicken and the rivers flow with gravy. But we were promised that we wouldn’t be alone in our problems, in our worries, in our lack of fried chicken and gravy. We aren’t alone. It might not feel like it or seem like it, but it is true.
Today’s gospel lesson had a very familiar story, Jesus was tired from all the feeding from last week and hadhis disciples cross the Sea of Galilee in a rinky dinky boat while he took his well-deserved rest that was so rudely interrupted by a bunch of hungry strangers. Well, I guess they didn’t check their weather apps because a storm came out of nowhere, catching them off guard, and made them fear for their lives. The text tells us that it was night, so they were going blind. So just imagine the dark of night, having your boat tossed back and forth without being able to see where you’re going or even where land is. Just the thought sends chills up my spine.
So the disciples were scared. They were tired. They were getting beat up on all sides from this storm, this storm that was so unexpected, one that they didn’t ask for, a situation that just got worse and worse and worse. And the cherry on top of this numbing fear was a ghost showing up, maybe even glowing because I don’t know how else they’d see it, walking towards them.
Can you imagine? Things were bad enough with being sent to the other side of the water like they were rejects. Then it got dark and a storm threatened their life. And now a ghost? Talk about your bad times.
But we know what happens. It wasn’t a ghost. It was Jesus, walking on the water toward them. Telling them not to be afraid. Bringing with him reassurance and peace in knowing that they aren’t rejected, alone, or forgotten. But what really gets me here is Peter’s reaction. Good ol’ Peter always acting before thinking, says what off the bat seems like the dumbest thing to say, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” What? You know if that what the grim reaper, he’s going to say, “*snicker* yeah Peter, it’s me, come walk out on the water to where I am, I’ll save you.” And when Peter does, he’d be like “LOL, made you think I was Jesus”. So it doesn’t seem smart at all.
But if you think about it, where else would you want to be in the middle of a storm? Some might say, “uh, on the boat?” or “maybe on land?”, but not Peter. Peter wanted to be with Jesus. He didn’t say, “Lord, if it’s you, calm the waves and still the storm” or “Lord, if it’s you, magically teleport us back on land” or “Lord, if it’s you, can you make sure that 2020 never happens?” No, he doesn’t ask for proof, he doesn’t ask for a miracle, he doesn’t ask for anything but to be close to Jesus, safe and secure from all alarms.
And we know that doesn’t work out for Peter, as he doesn’t make it to Jesus. Instead, he does what any of us would do if we tried an asinine stunt like that, he sank into the water. Mind you, he didn’t sink because he didn’t believe that he could do it, or didn’t believe that Jesus could do it, or anything of the sort. He sank because that is what the scientific properties of water are. Unless it’s frozen or you’re wearing some kind of personal floatation device, you’ll sink. Peter sank. Peter succumbed to the storm around him. His mass was drawn to the center of the earth because that is how gravity works. Peter was merely being human.
It is human to be afraid. It is human to be caught in storms. It is human to sink in our problems.
But Jesus picks us up.
Jesus weathered that storm and grabbed Peter and brought him back to safety. Jesus walked through their fear and anxiety and gathered the disciples in the boat. Jesus approached them, called them near, and saved them.
And I believe Jesus does that still. I believe that Jesus to this day walks through what ails us and calls us near. Jesus lifts us up when we feel like we’re sinking and brings us back to safety. Jesus calms the storms of our lives and reveals to us and reminds us that we are not alone, but surrounded by the community of saints, the hosts of heaven, and every iota of God’s love.
So in spite of how the world is going now, I do believe that things will get better. It might not be soon, it probably won’t be tomorrow, but I do have hope that we will see God revealed. It might not be in the way we want or expect. It might not be in the grandiose or majestic. It might not even be in the end of this pandemic. But it could be just in the still, silent, quiet whispers of life where we find joy, peace, and love, knowing that we are not alone but welcomed into the secure arms of our Saviour and brought into the safety of community where the Lord is the Lord of all.
Then we can have confidence even when we are afraid. We can feel secure in God’s presence even when we think we’re alone. We can rest assured knowing that even when we’re sinking, Jesus’ hand is reaching out to us ready to grab on and bring us back into the safety of that boat.
In this season after Pentecost, may we see and recognise Jesus walking in the midst of the storms of our lives, calling us close, picking us up, and bringing us into peace. Thanks be to God. Amen.