“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2nd Corinthians 13:13
You’ve all probably seen the Looney Tunes characters Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner on TV. The coyote is always chasing the road runner for a tasty meal and he’s always devising all kinds of help from the Acme Co. to trap him. It always happens that at least once and maybe many times the coyote runs off a cliff and falls into the canyon below. Many times the coyote runs off the cliff without realizing it and runs out a distance and, all of a sudden, he realizes he’s out there in midair and he’s not supposed to be able to do that. It’s only when he realizes that he’s out there in no coyote land that he falls and then all we see is that little puff of dust at the bottom of the canyon.
That’s sort of what happen to Peter in the gospel reading today. Jesus had left the disciples and told them to go over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee by boat and by themselves while he went up the mountain to pray. They were out in the middle of the lake when a storm came up and that can happen quickly because of the way the land and lake and prevailing winds all interact. The wind was against the disciples’ boat so there was no turning back. But then they looked up and saw what looked like someone coming toward them, walking on the water. It looked like Jesus, but that couldn’t be—maybe it was a ghost! It defied all the laws of physics. And they began crying out in fear. Then they heard him, above their screams, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid. Leave it up to Peter. “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking toward Jesus on the water. The wind was in his face and the waves were high and the walking was not all that easy; and then he realized where he was—standing on the water—defying the laws of physics. And when he realized this, he began to sink. “Lord, save me!” and Jesus reached down and caught him by his hand, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” And they got in the boat, and they worshiped him.
It’s amazing what a touch can do. I remember an incident when I was in the fire service. There was an overturned vehicle just up the road from our house. We were called to respond. When I got there, the car was upside down with the top crushed in so the occupants could not get out and there was the smell of leaking gasoline. The jaws of life were on the way, but those inside were very afraid, one in particular who began freaking out—a girl in her late teens. I was able to crawl between the ground and trunk of the car, stick my hand through where the back glass used to be and hold her hand and begin talking to her. It wasn’t long, but I’m sure it felt like an eternity to them all before they were able to escape through a now wide opening where the door window was. But it was the touch, the holding of a hand and a calming voice that made the difference.
There those who think that the church is represented by the boat in the midst of a storming sea. And when it, the church gets in stormy waters, there is doubt and then when we get out, we suddenly realize that we’re like Wile E. Coyote, or maybe Peter—we begin to sink and fall into nothingness. Or even worse, without Christ being in the boat, the whole thing begins to sink. The church faces many challenges today. Christianity—it’s a fairy tale like the coyote and road runner; it doesn’t have a place in a world of technology and answers to everything.
But answers aren’t so plentiful in a world filled with evil, stress, hunger, and people searching for something other than what they have. We, as Christians, have to hold the hands of those around us giving them comfort and consolation in this world filled with disease of the body and mind.
“You of little faith, why did you doubt?”, Jesus said. The church is nothing more than a family of believers that have a common mission—to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ in word and deed.
Our hands, yours and mind, are to touch, virtually or in reality, to hold on to those who need lifting up. I know what that feels like. Both as one who has reached out and as one who has been lifted up (when I was battling pneumonia several months ago). Without you and your prayers—the prayers of many—I very seriously doubt I would be here today.
So it’s family, a family of believers who come together and worship in the boat and give praise and thanks to our Creator and Sustainer. We come and acknowledge our Savior saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”