There is certainly a lot of bible stories about Jesus that are set around and on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus’ home base of Capernaum is on the northern shore of the lake. Many of his first disciples came from around this area, and were very familiar with the lake from the fishing enterprise. There are a number of stories about the disciples facing storms on that lake. Though the Sea of Galilee is much smaller than Lake Erie, both are prone to sudden and violent storms. My last days of vacation were spent at a lakeside cottage on Lake Erie, and I witnessed a powerful storm, thankfully from the land. Lightning was striking the water and the wind was howling, and the waves were huge for a lake. Quite a number of boats returned to the marina in the early stage of the storm. (Jesus’ disciples did not have an outboard or inboard motor on their boat.)
I am not surprised that the fishing boat of Jesus’ time has become a symbol of the Christian church. Jesus is with his disciples in the midst of whatever storm they are experiencing. Jesus is with his disciples blessing them and helping them with the fishing, in this case fishing for people. (A number of people have said that our Ascension sanctuary looks like a boat, perhaps an upside down ark.)
With this boat imagery in mind, we are setting sail with Jesus for another school year. We have the Holy Spirit in the sails blowing us along. We have Jesus with us in the boat, feeding us and teaching us. Now there may be times when big storms come that we may forget that Jesus is with us in the boat. The blessing of the church is that there are other sailors in the boat who will remind us that Jesus really still is in the boat. I’m thankful that we have Vicar Austin English with us, who is ‘learning the ropes’ so to speak, and speaking for Jesus. One of the Galilee stories is about Peter getting out of the boat and walking on the water toward Jesus, at least for a little while until he got very fearful from the winds and waves and started to sink. But at least he got out of the boat. Some Christian leaders love to write about this, about the need for courage and risk taking for Jesus’ disciples now, for them to get out of their comfort zone in joining Jesus in his mission.
That can make for quite an adventure with Jesus. I wonder what kind of adventure we will have in our sailing together with Jesus this year. Who will he be connecting us with? What new people will we get to know? What people will we get to know better? What more will we learn about the people groups of Northland? I’m wondering if people will be moved to start some new ministries in our midst. How will existing ministries be rejuvenated? We don’t know in advance all these questions. But we can rest assured that Jesus will be with us all the way, and is very pleased that we are joining with him in his mission of love and compassion and forgiveness.
Our rally day is really like a launching day – launching off with Jesus into an new study year. If at all possible, join with us that day, and be inspired. And bring a friend or two.
Your fellow sailor,
- Pastor Tim
SEPTEMBER SCRIPTURE READINGS