If You See Me Walking On Water

This sermon was originally preached on Sunday, August 4, 1996.

Gospel Text

“Then he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was many furlongs distant from the land, beaten by the waves; for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out for fear. But immediately he spoke to them, saying, ‘Take heart, it is I; have no fear’.

And Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water’. He said, ‘Come’. So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me’. Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘O man of little faith, why did you doubt?’ And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God’.” [MT.1422-33]

* * *

I have a few announcements to make before today’s sermon.

First of all, if you see my daughter, or any child for that matter, acting up in church, teach her – them – how to pray. We come to church on the Lord’s Day to pray. There’s a whole week in between to learn behavior and behave. Here, let’s pray. (The same thing goes for adults.)

If you see me with a frown on my face, forgive me. It speaks more of my sins than it does our relationship. If you’ve time, help me out. A smile alleviates a frown every time.

If you want more things in church: more activities, more fellowship, church school supplies, carpet – whatever it may be – give more money. That’s just the way it works.

Want more people in church? Invite them.

If you see me sinning, don’t encourage me. Like a child in need of attention, I’ll often show off in a rather ill manner. Perhaps your loving me, in spite of myself, will help to exorcise the demons with whom I’m all too familiar. Besides, if you join me in sin, we’ll be doubly miserable.

If you catch me entering gossip, stop me. For I pray each day “forgive me, O Lord, the same way I forgive others.” You’d be a great help to me, yourself, and everyone if you’d lovingly hush me up.

If you see me feasting on Wednesday, Friday, or during Seasonal Fasts … forgive and reprove me with love. For in so doing, I show my kinship with Judas and those who crucified the Lord Jesus. Yet, with your help, I can repent and experience the God of Resurrection and Light.

Please don’t sit throughout the Liturgy unless you have a physical ailment that requires it. We’re a lazy people in this modern age, but true prayer has always been hard work. All able bodies should stand in remembrance of the Resurrection & the Day of Judgment. Let us attend.

By all means, if you hear me speaking heresy – please, quail my tongue with love. For the Saviour has sacrificed too much for me and my salvation for me to forfeit the Kingdom with lying lips. God forbid that I should drag you with me.

If you observe me being patient in a time of trial, give thanks to God for it is His Spirit that guides me.

If, however, you see me being impatient, forgive me. I come by it naturally, even from Adam and Eve.

If my way of life is not the same as yours, it does not mean that we are not of the same Christian family. It just means that God in His wisdom has fashioned us in a unique manner – yet, with the same Lord as God and Father of all.

If you know that I’m in need, help me. For God surely will bless those who bless Him.

If you find my attitude, my words, my every way of life leaves you cold, please don’t abandon me. I’m lonely. Perhaps your presence, love, forgiveness, and long-suffering will help to melt my frozen heart.

If you think you have sacrificed enough, it is often at that very moment that God asks the most of you.

If you’re not tithing to the church [giving at least 10% of your income], please don’t complain. Because God Himself answers our plea with a challenge “Give me 10%, and I’ll fill your storehouses.” (By the way, for some reason, those who tithe complain less.)

If you make a mess, clean it up. Otherwise you manufacture enemies as well.

If you notice someone absent from church, call them. They may need you.

Most of all, if you see me walking on water, help me back into the boat. For, by myself, I shall perish.

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The boat represents the Church, the disciples represent all Christians. The stormy sea is our life. We are in the Church, the boat, because Christ commands us to be there. Disciples are obedient. Christ comes to us in times of danger. Notice that Christ did not command Peter to come to him. Rather he permitted the act. Peter was not acting out of obedience, but boldness. Peter became frightened, his faith was shaken. Why? Chiefly because of his foolishness in leaving the boat, the Church. Thus, our first lesson here is do not leave the safety of the boat, the Church. Christ commands them to get into the boat! When we do find ourselves outside the ark of our salvation (boat/Church), we must, like Peter, cry out “Lord, save me!” And He will. Christ not only commands us to enter the Church, He also has mercy upon us when we are disobedient, leading us back to the calm haven of our salvation the Church. It is in the confines of the Church that we [like Thomas] recognize Jesus as our Lord and God. It is in the Church that we, like the disciples in the boat, worship Him.

So, I repeat:

If you see me walking on water, help me back into the boat.

For, by myself, I shall perish.

Even if my sins and pleas are seemingly self-centered,

do not be as I … reach out and grab hold of my hand.

For this, Christ died … we live.

Help me, my brothers and sisters in Christ,

for I need you — we need each other — in this storm tossed sea.

* * *

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