This content was originally delivered as a sermon on Sunday, August 13, 2017 at Arbor House a community of Northgate Free Methodist Church in Batavia, N.Y. The full sermon by Jae Newman, has been edited into a three-part series for the Northeastern Seminary Blog. The first two post in this series were published on August 17 and 23, 2017. Readings referenced in this sermon can be found here.
There’s a runner named Christy Marvin who excels in mountain races. She runs in snow, up cliffs, and she recounts that her legs feel like noodles at the end of the race. She has no idea how she’ll finish. But she aspires to be the feet of God. God does not quit and so she finds strength to press on. Are you quitting on something you know you need to stand firm upon? Where is God sending you? There will always be reasons why you couldn’t do something. It’s none of my business, but you likely know what that something is. Where is God sending you? To whom?
During the third watch of the night, when most people are asleep, Jesus decides to go for a little water stroll. He can do that kind of thing. If you’re skeptical of this, maybe it’s because you’ve seen YouTube videos of people allegedly walking on water. Or maybe it’s deeper rooted. Thomas’ doubt is all our doubt, but often lost in this story is that Peter steps toward Jesus without prompting. That’s a miracle to me. He is the feet of God in action; and for a moment he is the embodiment of courage in the dark. Yet when Peter sees the waves and storm, he grows fearful. He balks. That’s true. But first, he comes toward Jesus.
Today, like any day for the rest of eternity, is a day when you are invited to come toward Jesus . You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have make promises you can’t keep. All you have to do is what his student did. Say, “Lord, save me.” And like his disciple, you’ll experience highs and lows, ups and downs, because that is part of Christian life.
The disciples in the boat on the Sea of Galilee thought Jesus was a ghost. The brothers in Joseph’s story thought he was a fool. The prophet Elijah thought he had come to ruin. We will enter times and places of darkness. If we remember who we are and what we are here to do, our eyes will adjust. We will see things we did not believe existed. Let the darkness of uncertainty be your spark to call upon God. Let his name be the flame to ignite your days and your nights and circumstances will not dictate your joy.
Readings from the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost: Genesis 37: 1-4, 12-28, Psalm 105: 1-6, 16-22, 45b, 1 Kings 19: 9-18, Psalm 85: 8-13, Romans 10: 5-15, Matthew 14: 22-33
Jae Newman (MAT ’15) lives with his wife and three children in Rochester, N.Y. He teaches graduate research courses at Northeastern Seminary and English Language Arts at St. Paul Lutheran School in Hilton, N.Y. His poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and his works have appeared in publications such as Rock & Sling, Ruminate Magazine, The Cresset, and Relief. His first collection of poetry, Collage of Seoul, was published in 2014.