Friday, January 27, 2017

Take Heart

When evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and Jesus was alone on the land. When he saw that they were straining at the oars against an adverse wind, he came towards them early in the morning, walking on the sea. He intended to pass them by. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Then he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed. Mark 6:47-56

When I served in Sitka, Alaska, I participated in the Blessing of the Fleet. A very active fishing port, Sitka is surrounded by water and the only way in is by air or water. Life there revolves around the water and many people are employed in the vibrant fishing industry. Part of the very moving ceremony is the reading of the names of those who have been lost in the past year.  As each name was read, family would bring flowers forward and at the end of the ceremony, the flowers were taken out by boat and scattered on the sea. The waters are life giving and life taking. We humans rarely are able to defy the wind and the waves.

When Jesus appeared on the water by the disciples' boat, he was encountering men who knew intimately the power of the sea. They knew that all their skill was no match for it's strength. They had witnessed the power of God's love in feeding so many but knew the sea to be a bigger challenge, a familiar and deadly enemy. Jesus comes to them, in the midst of their real fear, when they are exhausted and spent, and stills their worst combatant. God invites us to imagine our worst combatants as already conquered, already walked on, already solved by divine love and mercy. On turbulent waters, we are never alone.

I ask God to help me face the obstacles ahead with the confidence of God's presence in the midst of each battle. May we live without fear and take heart for God is with us in the storms we face today.

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