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August 7, 2005 (Sunday 19 · Time after Pentecost)

Intern Pastor Katy Grindberg

Matthew 14:22-33

Brothers and sisters, grace and peace to you from God our loving creator and from Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen.

The gospel lesson today comes on the heels of the feeding of the 5000. Jesus puts the disciples in a boat and sends them across the lake--while he goes off to pray. The gospel of Matthew reads, "Jesus made the disciples go across the lake." The Greek word that is translated here as "made" is more accurately translated as "to force or compel." What was over there, across the lake that Jesus felt the need to compel or force the disciples to go?

Think about your life. What is over there, out there that Jesus is compelling you to do? With this account from Matthew, we are reminded, pretty vividly, that when you get a call from Jesus--when the Christ "compels" you to go in a direction, you are not promised an easy way of it.

So, the disciples are in the boat--heading "across"--and a storm hits. How many of you have ever been in boat during a storm. It is a terrifying experience. After you drop the sails and batten down the hatches, you pretty much just hang on and ride it out. Having been through that myself, I'm sympathetic to the group huddled in the boat hoping and praying for the storm to calm down. In fact, I give them credit for getting in the boat at all. Jesus pretty much tosses them in a boat and takes off to spend some time alone. I imagine that when the storm hit, there was some wondering where their "fearless leader" was.

And life is sometimes like that--we are tossed around and battered by the sea of life. At times it is all we can do to huddle in the corner and hang on.

About seven years ago, my life seemed to be in complete chaos. I was in the midst of trying to discern what my next career was going to be. My personal life was chaotic, my spiritual life was confusing, and things just seemed out of control. And, I felt like at times, I was just huddled in the corner of the boat, waiting for the storm to subside. Easter morning, 2005, I was assisting minister at my church in Kansas. After the opening hymn, I stood up front and proclaimed, "Alleluia, Christ is Risen!" As the congregation responded, "He is Risen Indeed, Alleluia!" I had an overwhelming feeling that is what I was supposed to be doing.

Just like Jesus came to the disciples huddled in the boat, God came to me in the midst of the chaos of my life. To the disciples, Jesus says, "ego eimi." We have it translated this morning as "it is I", but it can more literally be translated "I am." Does that sound familiar to anyone? It is how God, in the Old Testament, identified Godself to humankind. "Ego eimi," Jesus says, and then he says, "Don't be afraid." One of the benefits of this God of ours, who knows what it is like to be human, is that God surely knows how terrifying it all is.

So what does the gospel lesson--the good news--say to us this morning--those of us gathered in the nave of LCH. First a little Latin quiz: Who knows what the word "nave" is derived from? It is from the Latin word navis for "ship". That connection is due to the shape, not its function--but I'm going to beat the metaphor to death here this morning.

You are disciples of Jesus, gathered in the nave--perhaps you feel like you are huddled in the ship during a storm in your life?

I ask you, "What is on the other side?" What are you resisting--personally, communally? What is Jesus compelling you to do? I firmly and fully believe that God is calling each and every one of you to something in the world. And that God is calling this community to something as well. The Ministry Plan Task Force is a good place to address the questions, and I urge you do participate and join in the discussion, the prayer and discernment.

Pastor David mentioned considering using of one or more of the apartments in Luther Place for a family that is homeless or in need. I know that as I say that, some of you are outlining the argument against it in your head. It would be hard, and those things need to be considered. In Irmgard's presentation last week, we noticed one theme; Throughout LCH's 105 year history, the people in this congregation have not backed off from challenge. In fact they--you--have embraced it head on. Throughout all of the challenges in the history of LCH, the people who left, the conflict, the wars, the people here have risen to the challenge. They have not only survived, but found ways to serve others in the process.

Many of you speak of the Reconciling in Christ process as a defining moment at LCH. As defining as it was, many of you here this morning were not part of LCH during that process. The RIC process is years in the past at this point, and as Carol Langer reminded us on RIC Sunday, we need to be looking ahead to the next challenge, the next thing that Jesus is compelling you to do.

As you look ahead to what it is that God is calling this community to, you don't have the promise that your life as a disciple will be smooth sailing--in fact, there is pretty close to a guarantee that it will be storm-filled and a fearful journey at times. But, you also have the guarantee that God is with you every step of the way. God calls out to you, "I AM--I am the one who loves you, in whom you live and move and have your being; the one who has named and claimed you in baptism; the one you know through the love, life and mercy of Jesus Christ." "I AM," Jesus says, "Be not afraid." Perhaps it is more realistic to say, "Be afraid, but find a way to move through and beyond the fear." I encourage you to get into the boat and see where the journey takes you.

Amen.


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