“Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid,” (Matthew 14:27)

The front of our bulletin cover and the banner hung by our front doors feature the worship theme for this 2018-19 program year: Fearless Faith. The scripture passage from which we drew this theme is Matthew’s account of Jesus crossing on the waters, scaring the disciples into thinking he is a ghost, and then empowering Peter to walk on the water toward him.

“You lead me beside still waters,” Psalm 23 tells us about God, asserting God’s presence in gentle, graceful places, in times of rest and renewal. And that other seafaring story in the Gospel, the one where Jesus calms the sea, might make us believe the same thing about Jesus. Jesus is all about still waters, calm, serenity, safety.

But not here. Oh, no, not in this one.

In this passage from Matthew 14, the lazy, gentle waters are gone. Jesus doesn’t walk on still waters. Jesus walks on choppy waters. Jesus walks like a ghost, through the wind, through the waves, in such strange ways that even his own disciples don’t recognize him. How can they know it’s Jesus? Because he invites them to walk out to him. “Take heart,” he tells them, “it is I; do not be afraid.”

Maybe we should rewrite the familiar Psalm 23: You lead me into choppy waters. You ask me to walk through the wind and on the waves. You lead me to have a fearless faith.

“Jesus calls us o’er the tumult of our life’s wild restless sea…” That’s how hymnwriter Cecil Alexander put it when she wrote the words to the old familiar hymn. That’s the call you and I are being issued; a call to fearless faith. May God bless us with that kind of faith in the year (and the years) ahead!

Your friend and fellow minister, Rev. Steve Savides

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