We were thrilled to welcome Rachel (and Sam, Joe and Phoebe) in a warm and wonderful service at Grantchester last night. The sermon seemed to touch the spot, and some asked for copies. It was preached from notes, which I reproduce here – without of course all the asides and illustrations that are probably the bits people most remembered!
22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, 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 towards them on the lake. 26But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, 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.’ 28 Peter 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 towards 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 worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’
· Remember Bugs Bunny cartoons + character running off cliff edge?
· Compare the gospel reading: Rachel’s choice – true to life
· Important theme – how to have a firm faith while at same time being completely real about world as it is
· And it is a world full of challenges (not least during an interregnum – thankyou!)
· Can use the reading symbolically to point to three sorts of challenges we commonly face as church today
1. Wind – prevailing culture
2. Waves – specific issues
3. Fear – when these occupational hazards get personal
This one is the real sink-or-swim killer: but we are called to fly
· So how many dimensions do we need support in to fly?
· Reading points to 3 remedies that work together
· Each is if you like a dimension of life that can give us the balance and poise to live and walk by faith in a turbulent world
1. Is the vital one that turns falling into flying:
It’s what we see even Jesus doing in the story.
Building up our relationship with Father through Prayer;
YOU SPOKE OF: a deep prayer life FOR ALL
DIOCESAN IMPERATIVE: Deepening our commitment to God through word, worship and prayer
What does it look like? Bungee cord workout: key element Trust/Faith! Dare to go deeper with God. Good faith…
2. Building up our relationship with each other: in boat together – share a Spirit, that moves from fear to faith
YOU: engages with you, loves you , respects you (all of you) and helps you develop your gifts FOR ALL
DIOCESE: God’s church by finding disciples and nurturing leaders
What does it look like? Ordinands’ faces transformed at service
Love! Dare to build the new community (Finsbury Park)
3. Building up our relationship with communities in which we live: being brave, reaching out, finding we are held by Jesus
YOU: inspires, energises and encourages you all, reaching out to local communities and visitors FOR ALL
DIO: Engaging fully and courageously with the needs of our communities, locally and globally
What does it look like? Looks like you when 7/7 you get up and go, volunteering, serving, spending time with those not like you, and pop the seductive bubble that church can be
Your faith, your love and your brave hope can change the world
So – be bold, be strong, because the Lord you God is with you
Not as some superhero or magic power
But right there already in the 3-dimensional life of your relationships, if you have the eyes to see.