Sermon for 09 August 2020

Better than Walking on Water
A long time ago, when I was young and foolish, ( One of those has changed) I used to go to a cottage on a lake. There was no internet or even TV. We didn’t even have running water. It was a cottage and we had to find things to do to entertain ourselves. One day I gathered some Styrofoam together and put it on my feet. I gauged it so that when I stood on the water my feet were just at the right height so it looked like I was walking on water. I don’t think I really fooled anyone but it was fun to see their expressions when they came around the corner and saw me.
I thought I was pretty unique until a few years ago. I was in Canadian Tire and the church organist who was about 70 at the time asked me how much Styrofoam he needed to buy to get the same effect. I guess walking on water is more common that we think.
In actual fact there are many stories of people walking on water. I have no problem believing that it is possible and I often tell people that if you had enough faith it would be possible for you also. The test to see if you have enough faith is to discover whether or not you are surprised if you did stay on top. You should be genuinely surprised if you sink.
The story of Jesus walking on water is usually met with scepticism or laughter. “It must have been shallow” or “Jesus knew where the rocks were” People spend so much time looking for details to discredit the story that they miss the rest of it. I think the rest of the story has as much or more meaning.
Look first at the setting. Jesus is going to work with the gentiles. He was going to bring in outsiders and this might cause an upheaval. So the author uses the symbolism of the storm to describe the effect his actions will have.
It is interesting that the term “Nave” which is the word for the center of a church is also the Latin word for ship. There is a bit of a pun that Jesus was going to cause a storm in the church.
If we look at the story we will find 4 things that happened after Jesus takes his walk.
The first thing is that Peter is so amazed and overcome that he tries it himself. He steps out of the boat. If Jesus had said to him a few hours earlier that he could walk on water, Peter would have laughed. Yet at that moment the power of possibility overwhelmed him. He did something that he never would have believed he could do.
Martin Luther is one of the people who is credited with starting the reformation. He simply wanted to be a priest but he started truly listening to the words of Jesus and realised that he needed to do more.
When he was finally called before the pope, knowing that his life was in danger he said “Here I stand, I can do no other”.
How many people have stood in the face of power, whether it is political or natural or peer pressure and changed their world.
Through history we have seen many missionaries and activists and just regular heroes do this.
People who like us are ordinary human beings until we are empowered.
I am sure there will be stories of ordinary people doing extra ordinary things this week in Beirut
But it is not an easy journey. The world hates risk-takers because they upset the equilibrium.
2) Look at the story of Peter walking
The first person to doubt Peter’s ability is Peter himself. Do you remember the cartoon characters who would run over a cliff and then look down? They would realise where they were and then fall.
Same thing happened to Peter. He suddenly thought “I shouldn’t be able to do this” and down he went.
Back to Martin Luther. After he objected and nailed his arguments to the door of the cathedral, the popularity of his movement caught on. Rioters took to the streets. (Some things never change) and Luther called out the army on his own supporters.
The most difficult person to convince that you are now different is yourself. You are your biggest critic and doubter.
Suddenly your insecurities come crowding in and you realise that standing up for what you believe is going to cause trouble. There is a passage where Jesus talks about how following your faith will separate families.
3)At this point you feel alone. You may realise that some of your friends aren’t there for you. How often do we see expressions where people are devastated because the people they thought were their friends deserted them.
Peter found this. In the story there is no reference to any of his friends trying to rescue him as he sunk. Too often when you are involved in a cause that you think is extremely important your friends don’t want to hear about it much less get involved.
When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane on his last night, his friends fell asleep. He says – “Could you not wait with me?”
It is not fair to put all friends in that category because some will totally support you and often you make new alliances.
People who think and believe the way you do.
4)And now we come to the point in the story where it is perfectly acceptable for Peter to yell out “Jesus Christ, I am sinking” and not be accused of swearing.
Jesus understood the tremendous transformation that was taking place in Peter’s life. Peter was on the edge of being a new person. Peter’s eyes were being opened. He was starting to live.
The phrase “All things are possible with God” was starting to have meaning.
And Peter was starting to understand that God doesn’t walk away. That support is always there.
Not only support but guidance also,
Many of you remember the Footprints poem. Where the individual asks God why there is only one set of footprints in the tough times and God responds that that is where the person was carried.
There is an expression that “Just because you object doesn’t mean you are right” the same is true with empowerment. Just because you are inspired doesn’t mean you are on the right track. Any journey needs a map.
When we focus on this being the miracle of Jesus walking on the water, we miss the point. We can debate that issue forever. There will always be skeptics and believers. There will always be people who want to divert the reality away from the real story.
But what we can’t debate is when someone discovers a new self.
When you become empowered
When you recognize that your faith gives you the freedom to live and to change not just yourself but the world around you, and that God supports you all the way.
Then walking on water is pretty tame.
God, We know that this world is not perfect. We know that we have many situations that need to improve but we so often turn to you and ask that you would do the work for us. We ask you to change situations. We ask you to make things easier but you have given us the means to be the change. You have given us the wisdom to re-invent the world and to redirect our lives. Help us to know of the power you give and help us to use it.
We pray now for people who are close to us, we pray for others who especially need pray at this time.
Now we pray in the way Jesus taught us.
Our Father who art in heaven
Hallowed by thy name
Thy kingdom come,
thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us
lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil
for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory
forever and ever Amen
1) This year instead of the traditional Steak BBQ we are fundraising by
organizing “Ready to Cook” Take Out meal kits for $20.00. Each kit will
include a steak, 2 cobs of corn, baked potato, coleslaw, butter tart and 1
bottle of water, and will be ready for you to take home to cook.
If you are unable to enjoy one of our dinner take out kits donations are always welcome (e-tansfer – )
Thank you and we look forward to your continued support, The Gilford United Church
2)Etransfer info at bottom of page
3)Thanks Dale, Aubrey and Chelsea
4) Last service for a few weeks. Next service may be live at the farm on
Sept 6. Info will be sent out.
Opening Prayer
Hymn -562
Scripture Matthew 14: 22-33
Lord’s Prayer
Hymn 563
Go now in Peace
Go now in peace, Never be afraid
God will go with you, each hour of every day
Go now in faith, steadfast strong and true
Know God will guide you in all you do,
Go now in love and show you believe
Reach out to others so all the world can see
God will be there, watching from above
Go now in peace, in faith and in love
Amen, Amen, Amen
Info about contributing
The traditional way is to send a cheque via mail to one of the treasurers.
Make the cheque out to:
Churchill United Church
send to Agnes Cole at 226 Valleyview Dr. Churchill, Ont L0L1K0
or Gilford United Church
send to Doris Coborne at 1468 Gilford Rd, Gilford. L0L1R0
An Alternative (and better) way is Etransfer
(This method is faster, cheaper and cleaner. If you don’t know how to do it, the bank or some young kid has instructions)
Send the Etransfer to
The security question is – What is the name of your church
Answer – Churchill
No security question
Another option is contact us and we will pick it up from your porch. Thanks