The Gospel for this coming Sunday is:
Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
To me this speaks to our human nature when we see something that can’t possibly be true. Jesus, a human man walking on water. No one has ever done this so the disciples thought he must be a ghost. The disciples cried out in fear, and Jesus comforted them and told them to not be afraid.
Are you afraid? We all have a certain amount of fear in our lives. I personally find that it keeps me from doing some really stupid things. That, and my ever present support system that I find in prayer and also in the feedback and advice of those I love and trust. I find that this keeps me grounded and leads me back to a place of common sense.
My friend Reverend Michele Morgan posted on her facebook feed a story from the Washington Post about Monsignor Charles Pope. He is a catholic priest in Washington D.C. who seemingly went against common sense and decided to have Eucharist at his service a couple of weeks ago. He physically distributed the bread and the wine.
It turns out Monsignor Pope was carrying the coronavirus and was admitted to an area hospital a few days later with a high fever and other coronavirus symptoms. He exposed his congregation and in the article he is quoted as saying “We are Christians. We believe that there’s a role for suffering. It’s not appropriate for a Christian to be afraid.”
While I agree that we shouldn’t as Christians have unreasonable fear or the fear of something that makes no sense, we also need to look at this week’s gospel. These were the disciples who were in direct contact with Jesus and they were afraid of something they didn’t understand or had ever seen before. While Jesus tells Peter “Oh you of little faith” He also understands our fear when he asks the unanswered question, “Why did you doubt?”
Are your current conservations going something like this?
“Lord, I doubted because I started sinking” and
“I’ve never walked on water before” and
“I’ve never seen you do this before” and
“Now that you are holding my hand, you raise me back up” and
“I can do anything as long as I know you are there”…
Jesus is there for us always, in the good times and the bad times, during normal time and during pandemic time.
We have now been seeing the effects of the virus for 4 or 5 months. We now have data and actual science telling us what we should and should not do based on what has worked and what has not worked. Masks work. In fact, our fellow congregant, Dr. Susan Atamian, told us at coffee hour on the 26th that there is new evidence that they actually do help other people and the wearer. But not everything works 100% of the time. If it did churches would be open and life would return to the way it was, maybe with some stipulations. But there is still so much we don’t know or understand and we don’t have a vaccine for everyone. There are reports that several vaccines are in clinical trials.
I hope you will add some of this to your prayers. I hope you will also pray for Monsignor Charles Pope and his congregation.
We will weather the storm. We may be a little bruised and battered and some may not make the journey, but as storms go this one is a mega storm.
God bless you, your fellow travelers and those in your boat.