Sunday: Walking on Water

Prelude: A Mighty Fortress is our God,

August 9, 2020
Pentecost 10

Blessed be the holy Trinity, +one God, whose steadfast love is everlasting, whose faithfulness endures from generation to generation.


Confession and Forgiveness:

Blessed be the holy Trinity, ☩ one God, whose steadfast love is everlasting, whose faithfulness endures from generation to generation. Amen.

Trusting in the mercy of God, let us confess our sin.

Reconciling God, we confess that we do not trust your abundance, and we deny your presence in our lives. We place our hope in ourselves and rely on our own efforts. We fail to believe that you provide enough for all. We abuse your good creation for our own benefit. We fear difference and do not welcome others as you have welcomed us. We sin in thought, word, and deed. By your grace, forgive us; through your love, renew us; and in your Spirit, lead us; so that we may live and serve you in newness of life. Amen.

 Absolution:  Beloved of God, by the radical abundance of divine mercy we have peace with God through ☩ Christ Jesus, through whom we have obtained grace upon grace. Our sins are forgiven. Let us live now in hope. For hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. Amen

 Gathering Hymn: ELW 516 Almighty God, Your Word is Cast

 Greetings: The grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. And also with you.


Have mercy on us, Lord, and hear our solemn prayer. We come to hear your living word; it saves us from despair.

Have mercy on us, Christ, and wash away our sin. Pour out your grace and make us whole that new life may begin.

Have mercy on us, Lord, make sun and shame depart. Renew us with your saving pow’r, create in us new hearts!

Prayer of the Day: Glorious God, your generosity waters the world with goodness, and you cover creation with abundance. Awaken in us a hunger for the food that satisfies both body and spirit, and with this food fill all the starving world; through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

 Selection of the Faithful: ELW When Peace Like a River

God’s word

First Reading: 1 Kings 19:9-18

9At [Horeb, the mount of God,][Elijah] came to a cave, and spent the night there.
Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”
11He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. 13When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” 15Then the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. 16Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place. 17Whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall kill. 18Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

Psalm: Psalm 85:8-13

8I will listen to what the Lord God is saying;
for you speak peace to your faithful people and to those who turn their hearts to you.
9Truly, your salvation is very near to those who fear you,
that your glory may dwell in our land. 
10Steadfast love and faithfulness have met together;
righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
11Faithfulness shall spring up from the earth,
and righteousness shall look down from heaven.
12The Lord will indeed grant prosperity,
and our land will yield its increase.
13Righteousness shall go before the Lord
and shall prepare for God a pathway. 

Second Reading: Romans 10:5-15

5Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that “the person who does these things will live by them.” 6But the righteousness that comes from faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7“or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8But what does it say?
“The word is near you,
on your lips and in your heart”
(that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. 11The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” 12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. 13For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
14But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? 15And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia. I wait for you, O Lord; in your word is my hope. Alleluia. (Ps. 130:5)

Gospel: Matthew 14:22-33

22[Jesus] made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side [of the Sea of Galilee], while he dismissed the crowds.23And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. 25And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. 26But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”
28Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Children’s Sermon: My daughter showed me a cute cartoon last night. Two penguins ware walking together, a husband and wife. One has the Bible open. They are walking across the ice. One says to the other, “I don’t know what the big deal is about walking on water. We do it all the time!” Like those penguins we need the water to be frozen to walk on it!


Our text today picks up from last week. Jesus and the disciples have had a full day. Jesus, hearing his cousin was beheaded by a corrupt government, seeks alone time but is met with the needs of 5000 plus sick and hurting people. He heals, he preaches and to the disciples amazement, feeds 5000 men plus women and children with two fish and five loaves of bread. That’s about 500 plus people per disciple. I’ve worked over the open fire feeding the masses for a wedding or a funeral in Kenya. I was young and we were a crew of women. I was learning to carve cooking tools from boards for fire and how to use the ash to wash the pots afterwards. It was exciting. We were a crew serving the masses and even though it was work, we chattered together. “Many hands make light work.” Task done, time for rest. Perhaps the disciples felt that way. An evening on the open water sounded refreshing.

Jesus has sent the disciples ahead across the lake while he gets that alone time he sought and they head out at the beginning of the day. I bet the disciples were emotionally pumped to tackle the world. Isn’t it interesting that after the mountain top experience, we invariably hit a valley, a low trying moment. By the end of the honeymoon Malcolm and I had a proper fight. We stopped in Death Valley to visit some historical site, house, and he climbed over the chords directing traffic because he wanted to get a more proper look. I was horrified, totally embarrassed and questioned what had I got myself into? After the high comes the low. For most of us the seas of life are not frozen and flat for us to walk on but water with waves.

Jesus has not forgotten his cousin. Perhaps a busy day put the grief on the back burner of his mind and heart but he needed to aloneness. Grief is legitimate. That’s all I have time to say today. Duty calls, he is on land and his disciples are struggling at the oars in the midst of a storm. I wonder what those disciples were thinking. That little voice that is always whispering in my ear would not respect my exhaustion nor my elation.   I can hear that little voice whispering, “Too bad you don’t have a car like …”, “When will you ever have money for a bigger boat following Jesus?” “ gosh, wouldn’t it be nice if someone appreciated your advice, your efforts.” The evil ones just does not respect age or exhaustion or education or wealth. The battle is real. The disciples are battling the storm.

At the end of this long, exhausting day two more miracles happen.

Jesus walks on water. Guys, Jesus to this point has turned water to wine, has healed the sick, has cast out demons, has removed fevers, but walk on water. That is really weird. Matthew must have been watching too much Alfred Hitchcock. Again, I would like you to note how God is so able to work outside the box, outside our experience, outside our expectations, and meet us at our point of need but often we do not recognize his hand at work in our lives. Did I see what I thought I saw? Did that politician really say THAT? Did the doctor really mean I need surgery or is there a herb or new medication? Officer, I’m sure I wasn’t going that fast! In the face of the unexpected, it is easy to be terrified and doubt our senses, doubt our experience and to cry out in fear.

Miracle One: Jesus comes walking on water and we do not recognize him. We fear the worst. When we are exhausted and at the end of our resources, we often collapse in fear. Our faith shrinks to the size of a mustard seed, to our last spoon of yeast, to a treasure hidden in our soul and we think we’ve caught a bad fish. BUT, our doubts, our fears, our inability to access our faith does not stop Jesus. Jesus speaks into our need, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Jesus does not play hide and seek with the disciples. He doesn’t play peek-a-boo like we do with little children. He does not diminish Peter or us nor belittle us. “Come unto me all ye who are weary and I will give you rest.” Don’t be afraid, I am with you – these are some of my favorite words in the Bible. It is so easy for me to fear but God comes and says, do not be afraid.

Ole Peter, though, our favorite foot-in-the-mouth disciple, voices the word we all long to say, “IF…” I hear God’s words but my heart is pounding and I am exhausted, immobilized by anxiety. Peter says, IF you are real, then ask me to do that which I know I can’t. “Command me to come to you on the water.” I think that can be translated – God, help me come to you in the middle of this impossible challenge – this cancer, this Alzheimer diagnosis, this bankruptcy, this death, this Covid-19. Let me come to you in the midst of my trial.   That is the prayer of all of us, I suspect, Lord in the midst of the seas of life and its trials, call me to you. Do I hear an AMEN! Call me to you!

I note Jesus does not say that Peter’s faith must be equal to the challenge before him. Peter’s miracle does not depend on practice and experience. It does not need a college degree. It does not need the proper formula and expression. Jesus simply says, “Come..” In the midst of whatever trial you are facing, God says, Do not be afraid, come.

Miracle two: Peter walks on water! OK, he started walking. I think of Bruce Almighty whom God, played by Morgan Freeman, lends his powers to Bruce while he goes on a vacation. Bruce leaves God’s office and walks on water, actually across a puddle he had grumbled about before meeting God. Bruce is elated until he faces all the problems and dynamics of being God. He cannot manipulate his girlfriend’s love. Bruce and Peter look at the wind. As you know, wind cannot be seen, only the effects of wind. Peter takes his eyes off Jesus and refocuses on the storm. We stop looking at God and start listening to the little voice, the voice of doubt. Did God really say? Does God really want you to have to….?   Isn’t there an easier way? We doubt God’s word, God’s will, and God’s way just like Eve in the Garden of Eden. We begin to sink. We loose that attitude of gratitude and we begin to worry about tomorrow, the “what ifs.”

I’m not sure if the second miracle is Peter walking on the water or the amazing truth that Jesus does not abandon Peter. In response to Peter’s cry, “Lord save me,” Jesus reaches out and rescues Peter. Now that’s grace! Peter has done nothing that deserves outstanding recognition. He has questioned, “IF”, he has obeyed – stepped out, sunk and cried for help. Jesus though has come during the dark night of the soul, identified himself and assured the disciples, welcomed Peter, and rescued him. That is a beautiful picture of grace.

The other thought I would add is that It might be significant that Peter as a lone ranger on the seas of life, has trouble keeping his focus on Jesus. Jesus calls him into an adventure, true, but it is also true that Peter acts as a lone ranger. I would like to put in a plug for the value of the body of Christ. We live our adventures and trials in relationship with God and his call to us but we also find advice, support and comfort in the body of Christ. I may be an eye and am charged with seeing which the hand cannot do but without the hand, I struggle. When Peter returns to the boat, to the community, he stabilizes. The wind ceases when we are in community and Christ is with us. Community without the realization of a God present struggles with the challenges of life but with a dynamic awareness of God’s presence, is able to row to shore.

How do the disciples respond? Worship!

So let’s step back. We are in Pentecost when we look through the lens of the difference Christ makes in our lives. I see:

  • The storms of life do not mean we are out of God’s will. Jesus sent the disciples onto the sea.
  • God’s silence does not mean disapproval or distancing or unawareness of our plights. Jesus walked on water to make the disciples aware of his presence.
  • In the midst of a trial we need not fear. God is with us.
  • Our doubts of “if” may best be handled by stepping into the challenge at God’s command.
  • God does not punish us for doubting.
  • Community helps us face the challenges.
  • Our appropriate response is worship!

Wow, that’s a long list. Faith does make a difference as we face political instability in our country, the ever present disease that scares, and not to mention our own challenges. Remember, Jesus said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Amen!

Hymn of Day: ELW 400 God of Tempest, God of Whirlwind

The Apostle’s Creed:

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate,       was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On   the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at      the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and   the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of        saints, the forgiveness of sIns, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Or you can listen to the Creed in vocal form:

Prayers of Intercession

Confident of your care and helped by the Holy Spirit, we pray for the church, the world, and all who are in need.

For your whole church throughout the world. Give courage in the midst of storms, so that we see and hear Jesus calling: “Take heart, it is I: do not be afraid.” May we follow Christ wherever he leads. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

For the well-being of your creation. Protect waterways, forests, lands, and wildlife from exploitation and abuse. Help the human family endeavor to sustain and be sustained by the resources of your hand. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

For the nations and their leaders. In you, steadfast love and faithfulness meet, and righteousness and peace kiss. May nations in conflict know the peace that is the fruit of justice, and the justice that is the path to peace. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

For those in need. Everyone who calls upon your name will be saved. Accompany all who are lonely, hear the voices of those who cry out in anguish, and support those who are frustrated in their search for an affordable place to live. We pray for those suffering this day. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

For our congregation. You have gathered us here today as your people and we thank you for this gift. We pray for those who are new to this community, for students and teachers preparing for a new school year, and for those struggling with unexpected hardship. Supply us generously with your grace for our life together. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We give you thanks, O God, for the saints of the whole church from all times and places, and for the saints in our lives and in our community whom you have gathered to yourself. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

In the certain hope that nothing can separate us from your love, we offer these prayers to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Peace: If you are worship with someone else, turn and share, “The peace of Christ be with you always.” Response, “And also with you.” You might use your finger to mark you children or loved one with a cross on their forehead. If you are practicing social distancing, put your palms together blessing of them. Peace!


Offering Prayer: God of goodness and growth, all creation is yours, and your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens. Water and word, wine and bread: these are signs of your abundant grace. Nourish us through these gifts, that we might proclaim your steadfast love in our communities and in the world, through Jesus Christ, our strength and our song. Amen.

 The Great Thanksgiving:

The Lord be with you. And also with you.

Lift up your hearts. We left them up to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. It is right to give our thanks and praise.

 The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come. thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those that trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

Communion: I invite you to talk a little piece of bread and eat it. Christ is as close to you as the bread in your mouth and stomach. Always remember. Now take a sip of your drink. Christ is as close to you as the blood in your body, strengthening you. Always remember.

Prayer after Communion: God of the welcome table, in this meal we have feasted on your goodness and have been united by your presence among us. Empower us to go forth sustained by these gifts so that we may share your neighborly love with all, through Jesus Christ, the giver of abundant life. Amen.


Blessing: Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. God, the creator, ☩ Jesus, the Christ, and the Holy Spirit, the comforter, bless you and keep you in eternal love. Amen.

Sending Hymn: ELW 763 My Life Flows on in Endless Song

Dismissal: Go in peace. Christ is with you. Thanks be to God.






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