I was out on the river last night in my little red boat. The paddle upriver was relaxing and lovely, cool in the half light of evening, but as I turned toward home the wind came up. It kept catching my boat, turning me sideways, pushing me upstream, no matter how I struggled to keep on course. When I was finally pointed downstream, waves began to form and work against me. I felt like I might never get home! I was alone in a small boat on a big rough river, darkness creeping closer every minute and for the first time ever, I knew how the disciples felt in Sunday’s gospel!
Jesus was always demanding the disciples get in the boat. He was continually insisting that they go and minister with the people not like them on the other side. Usually he was in the boat with them. On this night, the story says, he was not. He sent them on ahead and it should have been a nice evening sail, but it wasn’t. The wind was against them, the rough water, angrily rocking the boat. They battled all night long, trying to get to a place they didn’t really want to be, alone, afraid, struggling in the dark. I wonder why?
Why were they there anyway? We have heard the stories of their call again and again, but we seldom ask, why? Why did these people set down their predictable, stable lives and go with Jesus? He wasn’t powerful, not in the conventional sense. He certainly wasn’t rich. Some may have thought that he would organize the overthrow of the Roman government, but this must have seemed more and more unlikely. So why were they with him? Why were they in that boat?
I think they were there for the same reason so many have stepped from the known shore to battle chaotic seas. They were looking for a life of meaning and purpose. Jesus called them each to the freedom of possibility. He awakened in each the agency of divine purpose. He brought forth their power and potential and sent them into the world to build the Kingdom of God.
I think it was the same for those who first set sail for America. They knew they were created for meaning and purpose and they wanted the freedom to live into that possibility. So they risked all. We think little about the Mayflower Compact, that document the founders of Plymouth wrote together before they disembarked, but it outlined a brave, new world where each would have a voice in community decisions. Was it perfect? No. But it was unique and revolutionary. They set aside what they knew, in light of their gospel understanding, to create a new, freer place of possibility. And did they do it perfectly? They did not. But they followed a long tradition of God’s people, generation after generation, moving toward something better, something more free, more respectful of the life and unique potential of each. That is our Christian heritage. That is our American heritage. This was the promise, this was the plan that Jesus showed a handful of disciples long ago when they were brave enough to get in the boat and battle the wind and the waves, that way too often, blew against them.
No doubt about it, these are dark, rough days. The wind certainly seems against us and chances of us getting back to the place we knew seem more and more unlikely. And it often feels like Jesus has gone walk-about! So how does this story end?
Well, just before dawn, when the night is the darkest and strength and hope is at its ebb, there across the sea is something—someone! “A ghost!” cries their fear. “Christ!” cries their hope. And Jesus, calmly walking to them across the water, says softly, “Don’t be afraid.” And then the most amazing thing! Peter steps out of the boat and joins Jesus walking fearlessly on the chaos of the unknown.
We need to remember whose boat we are in and why we chose to be there. When we remember that we are called to freedom and meaning and love and purpose, I think it will be easier not to be afraid. And when we walk fearlessly with Jesus, who knows what is possible!
A Time to Celebrate!
This Monday, August 10, Mia Crosthwaite will be ordained a pastor in the Lutheran Church. She has worked hard and waited long for this day, so let’s celebrate! Join the service online, come and be part of the drive by afterward, send your prayers and congratulations. Remember it is customary to contribute to a new clergy person’s discretionary fund at this time. Let’s do what we can in this restricted time, to be that community that upholds Mia in her ministry!
Dear Grace Church,
One week until my ordination! Ok, 6 days. After so many years of preparing for this day, many things will be different than I envisioned, not the least of which is that you will not be physically present with me. That is a grief. But I have confidence that God will show up and ministry will be done. And Karen+ and Bishop Brian will be there, so that will be wonderful.
Ordination begins at 7pm (Mon 8/10). We’ll start the Zoom meeting a few minutes before so everyone can get connected.
Immediately afterward you are invited to a drive-by parade at Shepherd of the Valley, 3100 S. Five Mile, Boise (near Five Mile & Victory). We’ll be in the back of the church. Enter on the south side and drive around. We’ll be out and welcoming you for an hour. And there will be cake if you are brave enough to take cake into your car. :-)
The color of the day is red, symbolizing the Holy Spirit. If you feel so moved, please dress in red to join the celebration of what the Holy Spirit has done.
Here is the zoom link for next Monday:
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Meeting ID: 810 4554 9482
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Doing School at Grace
Grace will be offering internet service and tutors to 12 students beginning August 24. The hours will be 1 – 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Parents who are interested in sending their students need to register. (Please call the office for this information.) We will be using the parish hall so we have good distancing between students. Mask wearing will be mandatory, hand sanitizer in use, windows open and fans on for ventilation, and thorough cleaning at the end of every day. We will do everything to be as safe as possible. Our goal is to assist students with their online school work and to provide reading and math tutoring as needed. As things are uncertain regarding in person learning, we will be flexible and seek to provide the services we can to meet the needs we encounter. If you feel called to assist with this program or have questions, contact Karen+
Spiritual Gifts Workshop. Mark your calendar: Sept. 13th. This will be an all-day parish-wide event. We’ll make sure that everyone can participate (on-site/at-home). This is a chance to examine the ways God works through you for the good of the world with unique gifts and talents. After exploring your own, we’ll also discuss how to spot spiritual gifts in others. When we all come out of our charisms, amazing things happen by the grace of God.