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Sunday, August 9, 2020

Silencing the Wind

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In a world filled with noise and empty words, God comes to us as stillness and silence, even to the point that wind ceases (Matt. 14:32). Jesus walks over stormy waters to his disciples, entering their boat and being present with them despite their fears and doubts. Today’s readings encourage us to keep our words spare and meaningful, lay aside our little faith with its wordy worries, and listen for God, who comes to us as quieting comfort.

The wind blows us powerfully, frighteningly, making even familiar places seem strange, stirring up the water to obscure our vision and make our journey fearful and slow. Today Jesus comes to us in our drowning panic, responding to our “Lord, save me” with a quick response. The little faith of Peter (and our little faith) is not only a chiding to “do better” in our faith lives and respond with discipline, but it offers forgiveness: even when we risk and screw up anyway, God’s hand is there to reach out and catch us.

To command even the wind to be still is a powerful thing. If a very strong wind suddenly stopped near one of us, we would probably panic, wondering who did it, whether it was the calm eye of a storm, or whether a still bigger tornado is coming. There are giant turbines now that capture the wind to convert it to energy, but Jesus walked out upon the water and helped Peter in his fear to return to the boat’s safety and security. Jesus gives powerful reassurance and the gift of presence. God is not distant from our fears, but close to keep us safe.

Matthew’s gospel typically portrays Jesus’ disciples as people of “little faith,” who fail despite their best intentions. In this story, Matthew shows how Jesus comes to the disciples when they are in trouble and sustains them in their time of fear and doubt.

Gospel: Matthew 14:22-33

22[Jesus] made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side [of the Sea of Galilee], while he dismissed the crowds.23And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. 25And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. 26But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

  28Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”