Sunday, August 7, 2011

This week's sermon.

I had a blast at Family Beach Camp, but was blessed to come home to Robesonia...for worship, fellowship and remembering that God is with us wherever we go.

Here is this week's sermon.
August 6, 2011

1 Kings 19:9-18
Romans 10:5-15
Matthew 14:22-33

Please pray with me,
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable in your sight O God, our rock and our redeemer.  Amen. 
The first time I went to camp, I was eight.  I cried almost every night.  I was super homesick.  I wasn’t sure if I’d ever go back. 
Well, I went back, for a total of eight summers as a camper.  I took a summer off after that, and while dropping off my sister for her week at camp, I got to visit camp.  Well, can you believe when I got home, I was camp sick?  True story.  I was pining to go back to camp.  I was jealous that friends of mine got to spend their whole summer there! 
I decided then and there that I would apply for a job as a counselor the next summer.  Well, that was the beginning of 10 summers on staff at Camp Calumet Lutheran.  I laughed there and I cried there…friendships, my confidence and my faith grew summer after summer.  My parents eagerly awaited my return home, because they saw me grow and change year after year.  A huge part of who I am today was nurtured, empowered and developed as I spent time at camp. 
I have to admit, though, even with all those years at camp, I was nervous about spending the week at Camp Nawakwa this summer.  Yup, even in my late 30s, it was a new place, and I only knew one person. 
I wondered if I’d be homesick.  That was not the case in the least!  Even in a new location, surrounded by new faces and songs and a new daily schedule I felt at home.    There’s just something about camp. 
The opportunity to be goofy, energetic and ridiculous sandwiched between moments of prayer, deep thoughts, worries and anxieties. 
The best way to capture that is through an experience I had at one of my Bible studies at Nawakwa the other week. 
It was Tuesday morning so these kids have been together for about 1 ½ - 2 days.  As we talked about the lesson for the day and Jesus’ words, “Peace be still.” We talked about how Jesus calmed the sea, the wind and the storm.  We then talked about storms in our own lives.  The campers were in groups of 3  to talk about the storms in our own lives.  I walked up to three boys (probably 8 or 9 years old) and I said, “What storms did you come up with?” 
One boy spoke up and said, “Hurricanes, tornadoes and thunderstorms.” 
Okay, I said and paused….trying to think of a way to help them shift their way of thinking…I said, what about tough times in your life? 
One boy said, “Things are tough, because my parents are going through a divorce.”
The next boy said, “Yeah, my parent’s are divorced and sometimes it’s still hard.”
The third boy in the group (who was teary the first few nights due to homesickness) said, “It’s hard to come to camp, because I miss my family.” 
These guys know about life’s storms already. 
These young boys, a facing challenging, tough, life-changing experiences already.  And in that fleeting moment of that Bible study, they were reminded that they are not alone and that others have experienced similar things, and that in the midst of life’s storms, Jesus is with them.
How often do we forget, that Jesus is with us? 
How often are we caught in rough waters, in the midst of life’s storms and we forget that God is with us?  It probably happens more than we would like to admit. 
I had a bit of that fear as I drove to camp two weeks ago…that I would miss home, that I wouldn’t know anybody, that I was so tired from VBS that a slow week at home would be better than a busy week at camp. 
Yet our gospel lesson speaks to these periods in our life when our faith is wavering and we have feelings of doubt. 
The disciples are on the boat just after the feeding of over 5000 people with just five loaves and two fish.  They are away from the land, as the wind and waves have kept the boat away….they are alone…and when they first see Jesus, they are terrified!  Who or what is coming toward us….walking on the sea? 
Jesus speaks to them, but Peter isn’t truly certain…is his faith lacking?  Is he in a time of doubt?  Whatever the case, he wants Jesus to call him to come to him on the water.  In he midst of his water walk, Peter takes his eyes off of Jesus, and begins to sink…Jesus reaches out to him – you of little faith, why did you doubt? 
Sometimes I feel like I’m in the boat, right next to Peter, wondering if Jesus is truly coming to me in the midst of the storms and trails of my life.  I wonder…why or when will Jesus help me with this burden.  Is that really you Jesus?  Have you come to be with me in the midst of a broken marriage?  Have you come to me to be with me as I struggle with my sense of call and think about a new job?  Have you come to me as I learn my place in a new congregation and a new community? 
Where do these doubts come from? 
We all face them….Jesus are you really coming to me when my loved one is diagnosed with cancer?  Jesus are you really coming to me when money is tight and I worry about having enough for my family?  Jesus are you really coming to me when I start at a new school or new sport and don’t know anyone in my class or on my team? 
We all face the same question, just at different times and places: 
“Jesus, are you really coming to be with me?”
I think the challenge for us, me included, is to be reminded that Jesus is already with us. 
I read this week that “Faith is not being able to walk on the water – only God can do that.  But, faith is daring to believe, in the face of all the evidence, that God is with us in the boat, made real in the community of faith as it makes its way through the storm, battered by waves.”
Let me say that again, “Faith is not being able to walk on the water – only God can do that.  But, faith is daring to believe, in the face of all the evidence, that God is with us in the boat, made real in the community of faith as it makes its way through the storm, battered by waves.”
I won’t ask you to share the storms in your lives today…but I think you know where they are…I think the better question for us all to think about is how does Jesus come to us in the midst of those storms?  Where does Jesus come to you in your life right now? 
In this place alone, Jesus is with us as we hear God’s word, as we sing and pray together and as we come forward for this abundant meal….in this bread and wine, Christ is with us, in abundance, in love, in grace, in comfort and love and support. 
As you come up for this meal today, take a moment to think about God coming to you through this bread and wine.  As you head back to your seats, see the presence of God in the rest of the people gathered here in this place.  These are folks who are with you in the midst of the storms and struggles.  Some may have shared the same experiences while others may offer a listening ear, smile or a hug. 
Let us pray,
Gracious God, in the midst of life’s storms, we look for you.  Help us to see that you are always with us.  We especially pray for the three boys at the Bible study, as they face the storms of loss and change, may they inspire us to share our struggles along the way and be ever reminded that you are with us, in the bread and wine, the Word of God and the community of faith that surrounds us.  And may the peace which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and let all God’s people say, amen. 

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