10th Pentecost-A/August 13, 2017/Community Lutheran/Pr. Joe Vought
1 Kings 19:9-18 Romans 10:5-15 Matthew 14:22-33
Jesus called his disciples to be fishers of people, to join him in proclaiming Good News of God’s Reign, God’s Healing and Salvation. Each of them saw his healings, miracles, compassion and his ministry of inclusion. But halfway through the Gospels, you begin to see Jesus’ way is not all about success. Jesus experiences conflict and opposition with religious people. He begins to talk about crosses and challenges his own disciples to grow and exercise their own muscles for ministry.
Last week Jesus was looking for solitude after hearing John the Baptist was killed. But his disciples found him and then more people show up. The disciples who intrude on Jesus, say, “Send the crowds away to buy food for themselves.” Jesus responds, “You give them something to eat.” There is a time to be served and a time to serve. It’s easy to be served by Jesus, it’s another thing to be like Jesus. He blesses the food, makes the disciples serve and over 5000 are fed. After that we read, “He made the disciples get into the boat and go to the other side while he went up the mountain to pray… The boat was battered by waves, far from the land and the wind was against them. Jesus came walking on the sea and they were terrified saying it is a ghost. Jesus said, “Take heart, it is I, do not be afraid.”
Jesus teaches, encourages, then he tests them, asks them to feed thousands, go across a lake in a storm, to take up their cross and follow… Jesus drives them to the edge and limits of discipleship. It is like Basic Training in the military, testing them for the time when they will carry the Good News to the ends of the earth. It is like a coach with an athlete, testing them to go beyond. They failed miserably on Good Friday, one betrayed him, one denied him and they all fled. But He came back at Easter to call them again to serve and minister with courage, to tell Good News and be Good News. Each one of them would be confronted with challenges to carry the God’s mission forward and they would lean on faith and find courage.
I am sorry to have to say this, to remind all of us, and I am preaching to myself, but we really never grow that much when we are comfortable. When is the last time you were in over your head? When is the last time you were really challenged? How did you look to God or lean on others? It’s a fine thing to admire Jesus until you have to be like Jesus.
I am so proud of our Youth who stretched themselves on a Mission Trip in S.C. They got out of their comfort zone, served and meet new people. I am very proud of our youth who left cellphones, video games, friends behind for a week of Confirmation Camp…. Caroline Sagen said, “At Confirmation Camp I got to know my CLC friends better and meet new people. I think God helped me most during the zip line and ropes course. I am afraid of heights. Doing the ropes course was scary. I had to depend on my friends and campers to help me and I finished both of them!” Andy Vey said: “I had a tough start. I was homesick, sick, and stung by a yellow jacket and began thinking NEVER AGAIN, but Jesus made a difference by putting people around me to help me like Pr. Joe, Mr. Jae, the nurse, my church and new camp friends. I ended up having fun on the zip line, playing ga-ga ball, singing songs and thinking I’d like to do it again.”
Why is it we think only children and youth are the ones who have to learn or grow up? Our mission, our vision is to let Jesus lead us to places we never thought we would go, to build community with people we never thought we would meet. To call on Jesus and support each other when we are tested. Your Church Council has been thinking, praying and having great conversations about how God is calling us to grow, to serve this community, become better stewards in giving our money to God’s mission. Tonight we will review and put our final touches on a Vision for Ministry that leads us into new ventures in discipleship to serve like Jesus. We will share it with you and when you are called upon, please step up.
In this year of our Reformation Heritage, God is calling us to take Heart: to be people of Hope to believe Jesus is calling us to stretch and grow and become the disciples, the church we are meant to be. We are called to step out of the boat, keep our eyes on Jesus while we make a difference for God’s sake in the lives of others. Susan Devereaux shared this line at Wednesday Eucharist: “We say that Jesus is all we need but we don’t really know or believe Jesus is all we need, until Jesus is all we have.” We may be afraid at times and fail but we do not pray for safety but courage. And when we reach our limits and are so tested, let us never lose faith in the God who made us. The Psalm tells us, “Let us listen to what the Lord God is saying.” Let us listen to Jesus who calls out to us and will save us in whatever storms we may ever face, “Take heart, it is I, do not be afraid.” Amen.