Ninth Sunday in Trinity
Welcome to our written service for the Ninth Sunday in Trinity. This week we are thankful to Father Luke who works as curate in the Parish of Kirklees Valley in the Diocese of Manchester for our reflection and prayers.
who sent your Holy Spirit
to be the life and light of your Church:
open our hearts to the riches of your grace,
that we may bring forth the fruit of the Spirit
in love and joy and peace;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Reading 1: Genesis 37. 1-4,12-28
Reading 2: Matthew 14. 22-33
Reflection from Fr Luke – Being there: Peace through our Faith…
At the end of Hal Ashby’s 1979 film, Being There, the late, great Peter Seller’s character, Chance, appears to walk on water. It suddenly becomes a very emotional scene, a tear-jerking moment for many reasons, two of which are that you are not expecting it, and because sadly we know with hindsight Peter Sellers died six months after the film was released, and perhaps did not receive the genuine serious critical acclaim that maybe he would have liked to hear, as the film was well received.
The connection with the Gospel reading today is more than just the image of two men walking on water. When we see the character Chance walking on water, it is a genuinely arresting image, not what we expect to see, and likewise, the Disciples have exactly the same reaction when they see Jesus, their attention is more than arrested, they are terrified, not just because they think it is a ghost, but because it appears to be a ghost who looks just like Jesus and is coming towards them in an impossible manner. Mentally, it does not compute. People sometimes faint when they see something utterly fantastic.
From that fear of the Disciples comes almost immediately recognition, recognition that Jesus is the Son of God. Peter, as the leader of the Disciples, takes our human role. Peter needs to have his faith confirmed and reassured that Jesus is who he appears to be, a Divine being walking on water as only a Divine being could do. So Peter asks indirectly for proof of who Jesus appears to be, and receives it immediately from Jesus, who commands Peter to come to him.
Starting out strong in the faith, Peter starts to waver, as any person who has faith can waver, even when in the genuine presence of God. This is very important to remember for our own lives of faith and prayer, and of course psychologically too in terms of our wellbeing – wavering is okay, it is allowed.
This is the first time in the Gospel accounts where we have the Disciples worshipping Jesus as the Son of God. Last week’s miracle, the feeding of the five thousand, and the miracle of walking on water, are, as mentioned in the sermon last week, the only two miracle stories that appear in all the Gospels. I suggested last week, for the sake of the point being made, that persistency was relevant for the feeding of the five thousand in terms of it being included in all the Gospels. I would suggest this week that this idea of it being the first time that the Disciples recognise God being present is perhaps the major point to take home here, and the reason why this story is included in all the Gospels. This miracle of walking on water is one that seems to utterly convince those present to start worshipping Jesus.
If we go back to our image of Chance in the film Being There, a man walking on water, it isn’t suggesting that Chance is in fact Divine, it is making the point that, as the tag-line in the film states, “Life is a state of mind.” Life is indeed a state of mind. When we are at Knit and Natter at St James’, our states of mind are all focussed on the G-word – Gossip, naturally… Well, gossip, and who is brewing up, and when!
Chance in the film has a state of mind that other people seem to value hugely, and think that it is one worth having, they seek his counsel on things. This is our cue to wonder if we perhaps have a state of mind others find attractive. If we do, is our state of mind governed by our faith overall, by that I do not mean every single word out of our mouths as I am sure there were plenty of times that a Disciple just had to nip out and buy some food, and it was just buying food, no greater significance to it than that. What I mean is whether our character is informed by our faith: does our personal internal psychological dialogue always have as its foundation our belief in God, sustained by prayer?
You can have that without having your every waking moment sounding like the life of a saint, which is a positive and mentally beneficial idea to hold on to, something than can help us to remove some of the potential stress from our lives Simon mentioned online last week. There is no need to put ourselves under pressure, especially pressure created by the media.
The line just said, “there is no need to put ourselves under pressure” is an example of the kind of line your faith based inner dialogue hopefully feeds you to digest on a regular basis. Hear the peace in that line and travel along with its calm qualities.
That is like the peace we see when Peter does have faith in Jesus, peace is restored, the storm is calmed. Let it be so in your own life, tell others about it if you can, about the peace in life that comes through faith in Christ. Amen.
Let us Pray
Loving God, you care for all your children; you know each one & hear each prayer, you know each heart & see each need. Give peace & love to all who call upon you & receive them & us into your Kingdom. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Bless your Church, here and everywhere. Confirm your people in the faith, inspire them with love for all, zeal in your service, and courage in the face of doubt & danger. Strengthen us with joy in knowing you. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Bless your whole world with peace. Give wisdom to those who serve and lead and guide their decisions in the ways of justice and righteousness. Kindle in the hearts of all people the true love of peace. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Bless with your comfort all who are in trouble or pain. Heal the sick; support those who are dying; console those who mourn; supply the wants of those in need, & be near to those we name in silence now… Thank you for your people in every age, & for those dear to our hearts; inspire us by their fellowship, & bring us to glory everlasting.
Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ, Amen.
May the God of all hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, and the blessing of God almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
be upon you & those you love & serve today & always. Amen.
Let us bless the Lord. Thanks be to God.