Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Of walking on water


This Sunday, Anna has brought with her another visitor. Caitlin, a young woman she found on the steps. Says she’s got an internship with the Universal Zulu Nation coming up and needs business clothes. Thing is, I actually have some connections with the UZN. We’ll see.

Early in the service, I talk about how moved I was by the Hiroshima-Nagasaki events of last week and living with TK and company for several weeks. I try to tie the concern about  nuclear weapons back to this church’s  history and the march against nuclear proliferation. And the madness of the current global reality. And almost as soon as I’ve finished, TK comes and joins us. I’m very happy to have him as part of the circle.

We sing How firm a Foundation again.

Our psalm, as I point out, is atypical. Psalm 105 is less a hymn or personal reflection than a straight forward narrative telling of the story of Jacob.

Our Gospel story, Matthew 14: 22-33,  is the Jesus walking on the water one which leads me to sing my song, Rest awhile, which I wrote for Teddy’s memorial service. If anyone was a godwrestler, it was Teddy. How I miss him still…

When your boat is so small and the water so wide
And the shoreline just too far to see
I will quiet the storm, I will still the sea
And you can walk on the water with me….

(Jeremy gets really into it and says, We've got to do something with that...)

So what’s going on in this story? Jesus has just fed the 5000. He needs a break. He’s up the mountain alone. Somehow he knows his disciples are in trouble. Is it some sixth sense? Or like when we all of a sudden we get the feeling that someone we know is in trouble? So he goes out walking on the water to the disciples.

And Peter, our ADHD disciple with no impulse control, jumps out and starts walking towards Jesus. Until the wind blows and he realizes what he’s doing and starts to sink. And cries out to be saved. And that I believe is the crux of the matter.

I know for myself, and for this community, we have been there many times over the years. Many times we have ventured out, actually found ourselves walking on water, then instead of continuing, realized what we were doing, lost heart and started to sink. Then turned back.

You can’t do that. It's like Nik Wallenda walking the tightrope over Niagara Falls. You can’t look down. You’ve got to keep your eyes on the other side, on Canada, and keep walking until you get there. Or to be blunt about it, keep your eyes on Jesus and keep going.

Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid. He says. But do we really believe that? I faced that question this week when I was afraid. Afraid of having to confront someone. I read this passage. Read it again. Asked myself if I really believed it. And then ventured out.

Our friend Russ takes it to another place. Gives us the context that Jesus is talking about confronting the empire.  As crazy as walking on water. But we have to do it. To step out, to try.

OK. Maybe you can not not be afraid. I recalled the story of Rabbi Marshal Meyer of blessed memory, confronting the junta in Argentina by stripping naked in the police station. Weren’t you afraid? He was asked. Afraid? I was scared shitless, he responded. But I had no choice....

We feel the fear. We take a deep breath. Take the next step. Keep our eyes in the other side. Keep our eyes on Jesus. And keep walking.

Walk on water friends,  that’s what we are called to do.

Our prayer song this week once again is Amazing grace, but this week, Blind Boys of Alabama style, that is, to the tune of House of the Rising Sun. And we will finish the day with Yes, Lord yes….

Today’s Pete song, with the disciples in the boat and all, is Somos el barco….we are the boat, we are the sea, I sail in you, you sail in me…which is exactly what our friends in Hiroshima and Nagasaki are trying to tell us, when it comes to nuclear weapons, we’re all in the same boat….

As we close our service, I’m happy to have TK in our circle.

The session meets. If our interviews take too long, Leila will fill in for Danielle until we have someone one new on board. Tonight we’ll gather at my place to officially say thanks and farewell. It’s too hard for me to even think about.

Walk on water. Keep walking. Don’t stop until we reach the other side…

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