Reflection: August 13

Published on Aug 14th, 2017 by Rev. Carol Prochaska (Ret) | 0

Hope: Risk and Responsibility.
               Scripture: Matthew 14:22-33

        From turmoil to calm, from sinking to supported, from terrified to reverence — this is the disciples’ journey we have just witnessed. We’ve been in that boat. We know about 3:00 a.m. darkness. We know what it is to be tossed about by wind and high waves. We know turmoil and the wondering why this, why me. Like Peter, we’ve tried to believe in God’s presence, but what we see is overwhelming and we find ourselves going under. If we’re not presently living this, we likely know someone who is.

A “tossed about boat” is a fitting metaphor for much of our world: Fires… Drought… Flooding… Climate change… Poverty… Refugee crises… World leaders bragging about military power and how they will use it…

What keeps us from plunging into despair? Some kind of Pollyanna optimism? Wishing?  Good old fashion denial? Or! How about hope? How about good old fashion “biblical hope”!

The disciples’ journey we just witnessed has to do with that kind of hope. It is the kind of hope we are called to live.

Emily Dickinson once wrote about hope. She said:

Hope is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without words –
And never stops – at all.

The apostle Paul, in a letter to the church Rome, said this about hope: “In hope we are saved.” (That is, we are “delivered.”) He goes to say: “But hope is not hope if its object is seen; why does one hope for what one sees?”

So hope is the attachment to things we cannot yet see. Hope is the attachment to outcomes we cannot envision. So hope is a struggle between the seen and the unseen, between what is and what is yet to be.

Hope is risky. For one thing we human beings can come up with endless “what ifs?” What if we set out in faith and then get caught in a storm – in a controversy? What if our ideas don’t work out and our boat sinks? What if we wait and wait and nothing! What if like Peter we’ve stepped out in faith but we’re going under. And!…  And, as far as we can see, there’s nobody around who cares. Hope is a struggle between the seen and the unseen, between what is and what is yet to be.

Dena is our 49 year old daughter who lives across the lake. She has given me permission to share the following with you. Dena is co-owner of Pilot Bay Resort, which in mid-summer, means long and arduous working hours. She and her business partner have been trying to sell Pilot Bay Resort. They have come close but it doesn’t happen. This past June was to be the month. They had buyers. Everyone was set to sign on the dotted line – but again – it didn’t happen. In the meantime, along with her work as an artist, Dena took on two other jobs. She was planning ahead for when she would no longer be in the resort business.

Two weeks ago she was overwhelmed. She was sinking fast! But she didn’t go under. On her Facebook she posted a picture of herself wearing a T-shirt with these words: Helping folks never goes out of style.

And then she wrote the following words: Last week was such a long too-full week for me and some folks really helped make it better. Today’s T-shirt is shouting out some mighty big thanks for the help and support I received: – John and Mom who brought me lunch on Monday, – Brenda who shared dinner with me on Friday, Trevor who single-handedly managed a crazy volume of camper arrivals, Bonnie who let me play with her workshop “scraps” on Saturday so I could make a very cute miniature garden, Janet who allowed me to work two days of flexible shifts at the Barefoot Handweaving Shop, my dad, Ric, who fixed my best quilting iron, my sister, Lonnie who transported the iron from Alberta and met me for Sunday morning breakfast in Creston, Dianne, Brenda and Gaylene who ran a garage sale all weekend and sold a bunch of my stuff, and resort guests who left our Cabin in an amazing clean and tidy condition; and saved me some late night cleaning time. Thank you all for being such timely helpers!

Support came Dena could not see coming. Help came she could not envision.

To live in hope is risky.   To live in hope is our responsibility.

Our responsibility is to trust in a God who comes to us in the form of family, work colleagues, friends, and strangers. Our responsibility is to attach ourselves to Biblical hope and not let go of that hope – no matter what! Our responsibility is to trust the God of Jesus to deliver us through all manner of things. Our responsibility is to trust God to bring us to something we can call “good!”

In life we frequently leave one shore for another. These departures take many forms: divorce, a move, a career change, kids leaving home, retirement, aging, death of a loved one, surgery, chronic illness, and so on. The shore we’ve known fades away. And often the shore on the other side is not yet visible. Hope is the lighthouse in the distance. Hope refuses to give-up on God’s goodness even when that light is dim and far away.

As we can see in Dena’s Facebook story, we can see in this morning’s disciples’ story, and as we know from our own experience – hope is not a do-it-yourself kind of thing. To live in hope is to be ready and willing to accept help when it is offered. For those of us with an independent streak this may not be easy. Receiving help can translate into naming and accepting our neediness, our powerlessness. To live in hope is to responsibly accept help. And of course – when we can we give support.

To live in hope is to call out as Peter did: “Lord save me!” Peter knew what name to call upon.

We know that name. Peter knew the words to say. His words are our words. “Lord save me!” Deliver me, God — as soon as possible!”  This is hope risking. This is hope taking responsibility.

We disciples know fear. We know wavering. We know walking in faith. We know sinking. We know receiving support and we know giving support. And! We know that loving judgement in Jesus’ words: “You have so little faith. Why did you doubt?” You have so little trust. Why did you waver? Yep! Sometimes that’s us!

From this scripture story we are invited to come to the truth that our God is the God of Jesus who has delivered us and will deliver us – again and again.

I invite you repeat after me:

God is good…
All the time…
All the time…
God is good… !



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