He said, “Come ahead.” Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!” Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?”
Matt 14:29-31 (Message)
Thank you Father God that when in our lives we encounter storms and difficulties you are there to support and sustain.
Welcome to our preacher this morning who is Mr David Pickstone
After service tea hosts Bob and Evelyn
Our thanks for the flowers this morning which are given by Pat Jones in memory of her mother Dilys Whitley
Organist: Lydia Edwards
Sunday 3rd July
11.00am Rev John Wiggall
Vestry Steward – Ian
Door Steward – Keith
Tea Hosts – Keith and Myra
Sun 26th Garden Party at Gresford 2.00pm – 4.00pm Venue Thornton Grange
Sun 26th Messy Church in Hall 4.00pm – 6.00pm
Tue 28th Every Day with Jesus Study Group 10.30am
Tue 28th Coffee Morning at Llangollen 10.00am – noon
Tue 28th Cytun Bible Study at Llanfynydd Parish Church 7.30pm
Wed 29th Church Council Meeting 7.30pm
Wed 29th “Time Out” a monthly reflective worship at Hope Parish Church 7.30pm (4th Wed in the month)
Fri 1st Friday Lunch Club in the Hall at noon £3.00
Sat 2nd Overton Garden Party at Holly Cottage 2.00pm
Mon 4th Festival Praise at Llangollen 7.30pm
Sat 9th Strawberry Fair at Rhosddu 2.00pm
Tue 12th Coleridge in Wales Poetry & Music at Wrexham 7.30pm
Wed 13th Midweek Communion at Regent Street 11.15am
Please pray for the following:
Pete and Ruby Kasprowicz
All those who care for those in need.
We thank God for answered prayer and ask that he helps us to understand that all things do work together for good.
In the Storms of Living
‘The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men;’ ‘the awkward squad;’ ‘man’s inhumanity to man.’—just a few of those phrases from Robbie Burns that remain commonplace. And what of Shakespeare? Perhaps I should let brevity be the soul of wit! (Sorry, I couldn’t quite make the exact quote fit). And what of the Authorized Version of the Bible? After four hundred years, still ‘man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upwards.’ Why do these ancient phrases stick? Why do we still use them? Surely it’s because we know the truth of them. In a few words they sum up common experience. Ancient they may be; but human life is still like that.
And it’s not just phrases and turns of expression. Sometimes ancient methods and ways of understanding something also speak across the centuries. There’s a very old way of understanding today’s gospel story that does just that, and I’ve a suspicion that this way may have been the way Matthew the gospel writer intended it to be understood.
The method I’m talking about is the symbolic or allegorical way of understanding—the method that has each part of the story as standing for something in our lived experience of faith. In this method the boat represents the church, and the winds and the waves stand for the persecutions that the early Christian community faced. The time being described is years after Jesus’ earthly ministry, so he is not with them physically; he is in heaven where he prays to the Father—being at his right hand, as the creeds have it. In the hour of the church’s need, the risen and ascended Lord makes his presence felt, and their fears are calmed and they are brought peace. This symbolic understanding lets the story immediately connect with Christians in danger or under threat.
Simply put, faith does not make life all plain sailing. Faith doesn’t shield us from the hard knocks of life and death. That was the experience of our earliest forebears in the faith, as it is ours.
This isn’t to knock the faith of those earliest churches. They were people of faith, and without their witness that faith wouldn’t have come down to us. But like us, those faithful of long ago were often tested, and when faith is tested it is all too easy to think that the Lord has abandoned his people. Faith can wilt under pressure; we all know it. But our forebears discovered something vital in their hard times—even though the Lord was not with them physically, he was still with them, and he could still bring them help and peace. Hence, their faith revived, and they were able to face their trials and dangers.
The story of Peter sinking and being saved by Jesus is a strange one. Yet it represents something that really did happen to Peter. Surely it is a reference to his failure during the passion and his restoration after the resurrection.
Peter is full of faith as he sets out across the water—but this is bravado in the literal sense of the word. We remember his brave words at the last supper: ‘Though I have to die with you, I will never deny you.’ But then comes doubt and cowardice, and he begins to sink, so that Jesus has to rescue him. Peter stands for every disciple in every age, caught between faith and doubt.
Yes, sometimes our forebears in the faith were weak and fearful. Or to put it more directly—they were just like us. Like them we can convince ourselves that we are indeed full of faith, but when trouble comes we surprise even ourselves about how little faith we have. But also like them, it is at that point that we turn to Christ for help and find him there, even there. In our weakest moments we find the strength of God—even if we often only know it later.
Faith doesn’t save us from trials and tribulations. What it does is give us strength to face them. The person who has faith has a source of strength and inspiration, especially when trouble strikes. It’s not we who keep the faith. It’s the faith that keeps us.
This ancient understanding of our gospel story shows us the power of faith. It shows us what Jesus always does for his people, when the wind is against them and they are in danger of being overwhelmed by the storms of life. To those with faith, Jesus is not a ghost from the past. He is the Son of God, who is present with us, and whose grace upholds us when things are too much for us. Yes, ‘man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upwards’ but Jesus is present to his people in the storm of living: ‘Take heart, do not be afraid.’
Christopher Burkett, Director of Ministry, Diocese of Chester