On Tuesday morning the pastors of Lutheran Saints in Ministry gather in Fairborn Ohio to discuss the texts for Sunday.

These are the contributions that are brought to the table.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Texts for Sunday, August 31st, 2014

First Reading: Jeremiah 15:15–21

15O LORD, you know;
remember me and visit me,
and bring down retribution for me on my persecutors.
In your forbearance do not take me away;
know that on your account I suffer insult.
  16Your words were found, and I ate them,
and your words became to me a joy
and the delight of my heart;
for I am called by your name,
O LORD, God of hosts.
  17I did not sit in the company of merrymakers,
nor did I rejoice;
under the weight of your hand I sat alone,
for you had filled me with indignation.
  18Why is my pain unceasing,
my wound incurable,
refusing to be healed?
Truly, you are to me like a deceitful brook,
like waters that fail.
  19Therefore thus says the LORD:
If you turn back, I will take you back,
and you shall stand before me.
If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless,
you shall serve as my mouth.
It is they who will turn to you,
not you who will turn to them.
  20And I will make you to this people
a fortified wall of bronze;
they will fight against you,
but they shall not prevail over you,
for I am with you
to save you and deliver you,
 says the LORD.
  21I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked,
and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.

Second Reading: Romans 12:9–21

9Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good;  10love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.  11Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.  12Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.  13Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.  15Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  16Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are.  17Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.  18If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.  19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord."  20No, "if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads."  21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Gospel: Matthew 16:21–28

21From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.  22And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, "God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you."  23But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things."
24Then Jesus told his disciples, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  25For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.  26For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?
27For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done.  28Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."

Matthew 16:21-28 The Greek Text -- Pr. Fourman

Matthew 16:21-28 (NRSV)
21From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.22And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” 23But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
24Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 26For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? 27“For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done.28Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

v21 απο τοτε "from that time" - Temporal construction; possibly serving as the turning point in the gospel, of Jesus' move from the crowds to the disciple to the cross.
ο Ιησους "Jesus" - Some manuscripts have "Jesus Christ."
ηρξατο (αρχω) aor. "began" - implying Peter's confession prompted an ongoing teaching ministry by Jesus on the subject of his death and its implications.
δεικνυμειν (δεικνυω) pres. inf. "to explain" the infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "began". The 
τοις μαθηταις (ης ου) dat. "to the disciples" - Dative of indirect object.
δει "must" - The main verb of the sentence. It was necessary for Jesus to go up to Jerusalem and the cross, not an act of bravery or determinism.
απελθειν (απερχομαι) aor. inf. "go" infinitive, along with παθειν, "to suffer", αποκτανθηναι, "to be put to death", and εγερθηναι "to be raised up", serve as the subject of the verb "must."
εγερθηναι (εγειρω) is a theological passive indicating the action is not performed by Jesus, but “The Father”.
τη τριτη ημερα dat. "on the third day" - temporal use reflects typical Jewish counting where (not 24 hours) but of an event having occurred at any time during that day, hence Friday, Saturday and Sunday = three days. 

v22 προσλαβομενος (προσλαμβανομαι) aor. mid. part. "took [him] aside" - the participle is adverbial, the sense is probably of Peter taking Jesus to one side to correct him privately.
επιτιμαν (επιτιμαω) pres. inf. "to rebuke" - the infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of "began".
ιλεως σοι "never, Lord!" –literally God have mercy on you – an idiom meaning "perish the thought!" or "ridiculous!". 
ου μη + fut. "never [happen to you]" a subjunctive of emphatic negation, but with the future rather than subjunctive tense. Peter is expressing an outright refusal to accept that Jesus could be rejected.

v23 στραφεις (στρεφω) aor. pas. part. "[Jesus] turned" attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "said".
οπισω + gen. "[get] behind [me]" usually this takes the sense of "go", so a forceful, "get out of my sight", but better " behind me" in the sense of "become my follower again".
Σατανα "Satan!" – a strong address. Peter takes the role of Satan by accusing or tempting Jesus. 
σκανδαλον (ον) "stumbling block" - cause of offence, trap - "an occasion for sin." Peter is setting a dangerous trap similar to the one Jesus faced in the wilderness. So idiomatically, "You’re doing your best to trip me up".
του θεου "[the things] of God”. genitive is adjectival, limiting God.

v24 ελθειν (ερχομαι) aor. inf. "to come [after me]" - infinitive may be classified as complementary, completing the sense of the verb "to will."
απαρνησασθω (απαρνεομαι) aor. mid. imp. "deny [himself]" - aorist points to a single act of renouncing self-interest. Commentators will often treat "deny" in terms of discipleship, yet, this is a word for anyone, not just disciples. The word is used of Peter's denial. The positive sense of "surrender" best illustrates the sense here. What we have here is a call for commitment to Christ, against a commitment to one’s own self-interest.
αρατω (αιρω) aor. imp. "take up [his cross]" - an aorist, a singular action of picking up rather than carrying, expressing a deliberate act. Note how v27, although bearing some similarities, is quite different to Mark's record of Jesus' words. Mark has Jesus warning his listeners that on his return he will be ashamed of those who are ashamed of him and his words, while Matthew has Jesus warn that on his return he will "repay everyone for what has been done." Surrender to the divine-will in Christ is the counter to being ashamed of him, not cross-bearing discipleship. The deed that diverts judgment is similarly surrender to Christ, not cross-bearing discipleship. So, the image of taking up the cross describes deliberate surrender rather than deliberate service, a surrender to the divine call to believe in Jesus, the crucified messiah.
ακολουθειτω (ακαλουθεω) pres. imp. "follow" - present tense indicates ongoing action, continual reliance on Christ, faith and trust for today and tomorrow.

v25 ος ... εαν + subj. "whoever" - a conditional clause 3rd. class.
θελη (θελω) subj. "wants" an action of the will is indicated. 
σωσαι (σωζω) aor. inf. "to save" - infinitive is treated complementary, completing the sense of the verb " wants."
ψυχην (η) "[his] life" Those who lean toward a "discipleship" interpretation of this passage understand "save his life" in terms of "those who try selfishly to guard their existence (and so) will not know the full commitment of discipleship and tragically end up losing the very thing they try to protect. If the passage is approached literally in terms of martyrdom, then the person who wills to lose his life has to be widened to include the person who is prepared to lose his life for one’s beliefs.  
απολεση/ (απολλυμι) aor. subj. "lose" - considers one’s own life unimportant in order to become a disciple.
ενεκεν + gen. "for [me]" - on my account - a causal phrase.
ευρησει (ευρισκω) fut. "will discover [it]".

v26 τι "what" - interrogative pronoun introducing the apodosis of the conditional clause.
ωφεληθησεται (ωφελεω) fut. pas. "good will it be".
εαν + subj. "if" - a conditional clause 3rd. class, where the condition has the possibility of coming true.
κερδηση (κερδαινω) aor. subj. "gains" - in the sense of possess all that the world has to offer.
ζημιωθη/ (ζημιοω) aor. pas. subj. "forfeits" - loses, to have confiscated.
ψυχης (η) "soul" - are numerous renderings of "soul" here, but it seems best to see it as a parallel meaning to "life" in v25. Literally this word means ‘all that which is essential in making us human’.
ανταλλαγμα (α) "in exchange" - something given in exchange possibly "compensation"
της ψυχης (η) gen. "for [their] soul" - genitive is taken as verbal, objective.

v27 μελλει (μελλω) pres. "is going" – when used of divine decrees means "destined".
ερχεσθαι (ερχομαι) pres. inf. "to come" – a complementary infinitive, completing the sense of the verb "is about."
μετα + gen. "with [his angels]" - In the great separation of the just from the unjust, the angels are the instruments of the Son of Man's judgment of humanity. 
αποδωσει (αποδιδωμι) fut. "reward" - payment of what is exactly due, used of wages.
πραξιν (ις εως) sing. "what [they] have done". In this context it means commitment to Christ..
v28 αμην λεγω υμιν "I tell you the truth" - underlines the importance of what is about to be said.
των .... εστωτων (ιστημι) gen. perf. part. "who [are] standing" participle is adjectival, the genitive being partitive; "some of those who are standing here."
ου μη + subj. "[will] not [taste death]" – a double negative with the subjunctive = a subjunctive of emphatic negation; "will definitely not die."
θανατου (ος) gen. "death" genitive is partitive. Commentators seem happy to accept Jesus uses "death" metaphorically in John's gospel (6:50), but not in the Synoptics. It is quite reasonable, particularly in this context, to read "death" here as eternal annihilation rather than physical decay.
εως αν + subj. "before [they see]" - this construction forms an indefinite temporal clause referring to some future time. Time signatures like this are always confusing in the Greek, even more so in the English as we are ;’time bound’ in our reckoning. But theologically the eschaton is outside of time so time as we know it is not a factor. Through our identification with Christ however we can “glimpse” this as an event in history. But being time-bound it is difficult to embrace a God both at the beginning and at end of time at the same time. 

ερχομενον (ερχομαι) pres. part. "coming" - serves to introduce a dependent statement expressing what "they see." As noted this "coming" is fraught with difficulty. There are many “comings”, the eschaton, the incarnation, the many divine comings associated with judgment. This "coming" is often identified with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD, which was seen by the early church as a "coming" of the Lord to render justice.

Will you complete his suffering?

I ask of thee, my heavenly Father, that in my soul I might know the joy of my master’s resurrection and that in my body I might complete his suffering and humiliation. — Francis of Assisi

I know what you are saying: “I like that other prayer better, you know, make me a channel of your peace and all.” Really? Too bad! That prayer did not show up on the world and church stage until 1912 when it was published in a French Spiritual Magazine. (Renaux) It made its rounds in Catholic circles during WWI and was attributed to the testimony of William the Conqueror. An English version hit Quaker circles in 1927 and it gained great popularity among English speakers during WWII when both the Roman Catholic church in America and even a US Senator distributed copies of it widely. It has been a favorite staple of many a piety, that is true, but only for the last 90 years of so, and tough peace and Francis somehow go together, he did not write it.
Why bust your favorite bubble? Because the real Francis understood carrying crosses while the prayer understands wildflowers and puppy dogs and, above all, it knows arrogance. Here on earth, Francis seems to have understood, the work of Christ was not done by giving the world good advice or by feeling good about our acts of charity. Here on earth the work of Christ is done by completing his suffering. I know churches love to pray and sing the 1916 prayer under Francis’ name. I dare them to pray the one I quoted at the beginning of this reflection. 
And what would happen if they did? What would happen if the work of atonement was truly embraced by our congregations and churches? She sings every week — at least I hope you do — “Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world . .” But how does she live it? By that I mean, how does the church live the life of Jesus and as a result how does she take away the sin of the world? 
Bo Giertz’s Hammer of God, tries  to ask this question: “What is atonement and how are you part of it?” It was not until 2005 that his book was translated into English. “But I read it in college in the 80’s!” No you didn’t. You read the parts that the early translators felt were good and appropriate for you to read. They conveniently left out the last chapter. Don’t get me wrong, the book is marvelous even without it. It says very strongly: “You must be convicted of sin utterly and become convinced of your doom, then the Gospel will suddenly make sense and you will embrace the forgiveness of sin it offers.” The last chapter takes a different tack to go on. Forgiven sinners, now both dead and reconciled to their Lord before dying, have left a mess. A human mess. Suffering will result. Their sins are atoned for in heaven. But on earth their sins threaten to live on in the lives of a baby. Who will atone here on earth? In Giertz’s story, the pastor and his wife do. They atone for the sins of friends now dead by not letting him be an orphan of his parents’ sin.
When our congregations do things together, do those actions deserve the title: “Picking up our cross?” How is the wake of sin that surely is clearly evident in the life around the congregation atoned for? Surely, we do more than decry it and say, “there, there, not your fault,” but do nothing to undo the wrong done. If not, maybe it is time to think about it: “Does what we do as a congregation deserve the label: PICKING UP OUR CROSS?” 

Gods work our hands will never be the same again.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Note for August 24th

As I said two weeks ago: It is that time of year when preachers take vacations and time off for learning and plotting. That has not changed since then. I was out of place last wee and Pr. Fourman is taking time this week. Yet I plot on today, though without our usual Greek portion.
All will be well again soon. Maybe even next week.
At least that is the plan.

The Texts for Sunday August 24th

First Reading: Isaiah 51:1–6

Listen to me, you that pursue righteousness,
you that seek the LORD.
Look to the rock from which you were hewn,
and to the quarry from which you were dug.
  2Look to Abraham your father
and to Sarah who bore you;
for he was but one when I called him,
but I blessed him and made him many.
  3For the LORD will comfort Zion;
he will comfort all her waste places,
and will make her wilderness like Eden,
her desert like the garden of the LORD;
joy and gladness will be found in her,
thanksgiving and the voice of song.
  4Listen to me, my people,
and give heed to me, my nation;
for a teaching will go out from me,
and my justice for a light to the peoples.
  5I will bring near my deliverance swiftly,
my salvation has gone out
and my arms will rule the peoples;
the coastlands wait for me,
and for my arm they hope.
  6Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
and look at the earth beneath;
for the heavens will vanish like smoke,
the earth will wear out like a garment,
and those who live on it will die like gnats; 
but my salvation will be forever,
and my deliverance will never be ended.\

Second Reading: Romans 12:1–8

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God — what is good and acceptable and perfect.
3For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.  4For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function,  5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.  6We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith;  7ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching;  8the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

Gospel: Matthew 16:13–20

13Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"  14And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."  15He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"  16Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."  17And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.  18And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.  19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."  20Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. 

You ain't from 'rounds these parts, are ya?"

Note that he does not ask their opinion rather he asks the opinion of the people. Why? In order to contrast the opinion of the people with the disciples answer to the question but who do you say that I am?” - St. Chryostom
Strange as it may seem, in Jesus’ times you were what your own said you were, only they would never say . . ? Let me explain: If you came from Nazareth, the rest of Galilee and all of Israel had you pegged. You belonged somewhere and that somewhere was known. They could tell pretty much what you were like and what to expect from you. Hence the cold words of Nathaniel: “Can any good come out of Nazareth?” For that matter: “Can any good come out of Detroit?” Or how about this: “you know what Catholics are like.” In that last one substitute Lutheran, Missouri Synod, Arab, Cretan, Mesopotamian, pastors, laypeople. . . you name it, ancient or modern.
All that is to say, as much as we Americans want to believe that we are winning the struggle to be unique, independent, and our own person that is not like anyone else, we are definable. My grandfather once looked at me, dressed in the style of the 1960-70’s — washed out jeans, sneakers, flannel shirt — and quipped: “I see you are wearing your no conformist uniform today.” He was right it turned out, we all thought we were different and rebelling in the cause of individuality and, miraculously, we all looked the same as a result. 
There is some truth to it that knowing were we are from or how we align ourselves gives hint to our character, our motives, and our future actions. It also gives hint who “pulls our strings.” It seems that this was even more pronounced in ancient Middle East. Jesus’ question then is not so much a curious question as to the opinion of the disciples, though that plays a role as he is probing their understanding. His question is one of allegiance. “Who do they say I am,” begs the answer to the question: “Where is Jesus’ ultimate allegiance and who is his authority?” 
We are at a place in Matthew’s Gospel where Jesus has done a lot of miracles. He has fed two multitudes (Matt 14:13-21, Matt 15:29-38), he has walked on water and caused Peter to do the same (Matt 14:22-33), he has done numerous healings, he has taught with authority (Matt 5-7) and he has debated the Pharisees successfully a couple of times. He is about to become transfigured ,after an interlude explaining sharply what messiahship means, next weeks’s text. (Matt 17:1-9) After this, things begin to have an eschatological flavor. End times are discussed even on the way down the mountain. Instructions are about to be given how to behave as the church. (Matt 18-20). A great apocalyptic eschatological sermon will be delivered. (Matt 24, 25) Somehow, after chapter 16 and 17 it is clear that the disciples know well who they are dealing with though they are having a hard time dealing with what he has planned. (Matt 16:21-28) But then, that is next weeks text and subject. 
I want to, for just a moment, go back to the arguments with the Pharisees that begin chapter 16. In enigmatic fashion, Jesus scolds the current generation and says: “No signs will be given except the sign of Jonah.” The large fish did not digest Jonah and death will not digest Jesus, (Chromatius and Hilary of Poitiers) the point being that God’s Holy plan will not be thwarted by anything created here on earth. Yet, church, just now built on the confession and realization of Peter and the disciples, will you have faith in this? Even further, as with Jonah, the mercy of God, rather than the wrath of God will be evident in the end. World will you realize it and say: “Surely, he was the Son of God,” (Matt 27:54) will you repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand? (Matt 4:17)
What will it take for the church to have faith and the world to come to repentance? Matthew seems to suggest that the answer is: The death of Jesus Christ and his resurrection all for the forgiveness of sin so that repentance might become possible and faith might become the hopeful “in spite of.” 
In a place were no wrong is ever forgotten and where everyone is pegged for life by where they came from and what they were once like repentance is irrational. It would just not matter in any way. An aside: The same is true for what has been called the third type of atheism, the conviction that what we are and what we do just does not matter to a god who just does not care or blankly overlooks. This world where everyone is what they are and that is that is Jesus’ Nazareth and maybe also us today. The church knows that her Lord and the church herself: “Ain’t from ‘round these parts.” Her flaw is that, often, she would like to not stand out by her association with the Holy that claims her and blissfuly think and act like the world around her. It will not work. The Lord will rebuke her, but that is next week.

For this week, it is important that we, church, dare to be from somewhere else. A place where repentance is preached because it is possible and reasonable because the wrath of God is held. A place that trusts that God does not deal with us according to our transgressions but according to our faith in this work, death, and resurrection of Jesus. A place where this faith is given. (AC 7) A place where Peter eventually lets Jesus be God and surrenders to His plan, way,s and means.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

St Peter walks on water and we are on vacation a Post for August 10 - Pr. Kruse

To our readers:

Prize Fighters have a saying: “The fight is won in the gym.” pastors have a similar attitude about fall programs all the way to Advent: they are made a success in the summer right about now. We are no different. Also in the summer our children are idle and we can have time with them. It is called vacation. In my case, it is called Band Camp with #1 Daughter. It is a time out for me as much as vacation. St. Peter got called out of daily living to walk on water, we are called out of daily routine to play with children and plot the overthrow of the reign of death and evil.
You might have noticed that our posts are . . well . . lacking right now. We are in the tail edge of summer. That is why. But as you came looking, here is a Matthew 14 inspired nuggets for you. Please enjoy it.

A short Meditation on the walking on the sea.
St. Peter was in his element. He loved the sea. No, not the high seas but his little sea of Galilee. He had known her all his life. He had grown up on her shores. His father, his uncles, his brother, all the men in his family knew this little sea very well. He was in his element whenever Jesus made them set out to cross the sea.
When Simon was not even able to speak and walk all that well he already knew how to mend and clean the great fishing net that his father Jonah used every evening and morning to go and make a catch for the family and the family business. Simon had sailed and fished on this sea since, well he could not really remember a time that he had not been in a boat and gone to do the work with the men.
At first he had been more than a nuisance to the men. Jonah’s nets were heavy even they were dry. They were even heavier when they came up even when they were empty. They were almost impossible to lift out of the water when they full. Simon’s little boy arms would strain as he tried to help. His father and uncles would laugh as his face grimaced under the strain.
Most of the time his job on board was to sort fish. He was a little boy and sat at the bottom of the boat up to his waist in flopping fish as he went about his task. Early on he learned what was good fish and needed keeping and what was bad fish that no one would buy at market. He knew what was big enough to keep and what he better get out of the boat quickly so it could swim away and grow before being caught and kept again.
He spent his early youth that way. Like any young boy he was given to daydream. When he did Jonah would get quite upset at him: “Simon, you are throwing away good fish. What are you thinking. Pay attention!” Simon was very happy when his little brother Andrew was finally given the sorting job. Well, the sorting job never really left him. When they were waiting for the net to fill, everyone on board joined in the sorting.
Yes, when he had become a young man, he had also become strong. Strong as any man on board and he got to pull net. It made him feel important. There was a downside as well. If you are strong you get to man the oars while the old men tend the rudder and sail. But as any young lad will, Simon dropped the oar now and then when he thought the sail was out of control. Jonah did not take that lightly. He would yell: “Simon! We all have our job on this boat! You do yours and I will tend mine! If we don’t neither will get actually done! Sit down and row!”
Soon Simon had his own boat. His own nets. He was on the rudder and the rail. He flew the sail. He knew his little sea like the back of his hand. He knew what she would do next. What winds would follow what clouds. Where the fish were hiding. He knew when to go out and when to stay on shore and wait it out till better weather. He was in his prime and this little sea was his home. She was his element.
Little brother Andrew had gotten him involved with the man from Nazareth: Jesus. Andrew had come to his house and announced that he had found the messiah. Simon had followed Andrew and now he was a disciple of Jesus. He did not go fishing that often any longer. He mainly walked the dusty back roads of Galilee these days. But now and then Jesus would come to the lake shore and even set out across the lake. And whenever that happened, Peter was sure to take charge of rudder and sail. 
Only, Jesus seemed to have no knack for knowing when to set out. Once he set out at night and they had ended up sailing right into a storm. It had been a disaster. With all his skill and all his strength at oar, yes, he had dropped the sail and taken to the oars with all his might, but it was useless, he could not save the boat. And Jesus slept through it all. Until John woke him up because he was afraid. Well, actually they all had been afraid, but only little John had had the guts to admit it at first. He had woken Jesus up and Jesus had done something that still stuck with Peter because he had never seen it. With a wave of his had and a word he had stopped the wind. 
It stuck with Simon Peter. They had gotten out of that storm with their lives and a flooded boat. Now Jesus was again making them sail the sea at the wrong time of day. It was that stormy night all over again, only this time Jesus stayed behind and made them go it by themselves. They had sailed this sea enough. They would make it. But they were uneasy.
It was a rotten night for crossing the sea. The wind was against them and they had to take to those dreaded oars again, and still their progress was slow. Actually, it was not just slow, they were going nowhere at a great expense of energy. As far as Peter could tell they were just plain stuck dead in place just struggling to just stay even with the wind and waves.
The sea plays tricks with you now and then. At the third watch they saw something that looked very much like a man walking on the waters. At first they thought in the night their eye were playing tricks. Then they became frightened. The water at night is not a safe place, this had to be a ghost or worse, the angel of death. 
Some laid into the oars, some tried to hoist the sail, dropping their oar duties as they did so. Peter noticed that nobody was rowing on starboard. He dropped the rudder and laid into one of the starboard oars. But that made the situation even more confused since now the rudder was unmanned. Before long all of them were trying to do what each thought was the best to do right then. You should have seen the confusion! Oars thrashing, sails whipping across the deck, disciples falling all over themselves, little John hanging on for dear life to the mast.
Jesus saw this little mess and called to them: “It is I! Don’t be afraid!” They knew his voice. Simon was embarrassed. Embarrassment was a common state for Simon Peter, at least in the way I tell his stories. He knew wind, water, and sail but just look at the state his boat had gotten into. It is true, when you are messing up the whole world is watching; do something brilliant, no one is around. What was worse, this was Jesus, whom Simon Peter wanted to impress. He did not want to have the Lord see him mess up this way.
Equally strong as his state of embarrassment was Peter’s curiosity. Jesus was out on the lake at night. WITHOUT A BOAT! Now, that is just not normal. This was his sea and if someone had a new trick with her waves he wanted to know. “Lord, if that is you, command me to come to you over the waves.” Simon yelled. “Very well, come Simon.” Jesus answered. Simon got out of the boat and onto the waves. 
To his surprise, he did not sink. He was walking on water! This is just not natural, but he made his way toward the Lord. He had no idea what he would do when he got there, but he walked on nonetheless, wind, waves, and all. Wind and waves. Wind and waves! He belonged in that boat over there, not out on the water. He turned to catch glimpse of a little boat in a perfect state of chaos. Nobody was doing what they were supposed to. The sail was half up, it needed to be down, it flapped around untrimmed, it needed to be under control; the oars were manned only on one side so it was going in a circle, the thing was listing heavily and taking water, no one was paying attention to where anyone was, they were shouting at each other about what each thought the other should do, and no one was on the rudder where he, Simon, should be right about now. With that realization in his mind he sank. Immediately Jesus grabbed him and dragged him to the boat. They got in. 
The wind stopped. The Waves stopped. “Now I could do it,” Peter thought, but did not say anything. Anyone can sit in a boat on a glassy sea. It is not trick. It is when the winds blow and the sea turns on you that you are found to be a sailor. Peter realized that night that he had failed. Not at walking on water, he had done that at least for a moment. No, he had failed at guiding his boat, something he should actually have been good at. 
In his 1st letter that he would write many years later, he comforted the church telling them that it was not a strange thing that they were suffering under the evil that lived next door as if it had been sown there just to make their life difficult. He advised them not to worry about it but instead to pay attention to their own life. If the world was to see Christ, then someone would have to live like a child of the new creation. It was not about making everyone around you change so you like them. It was about bearing the fruits of Jesus resurrection in your own life. That, and nothing else, is your oar to pull. Rejoice and do it well.

In writing this Peter had taken to heart the story of the wheat and the tares that Jesus had told only days before the incident at sea. Life is a storm sometimes. Sometimes, weeds move in next to you and assail you. Sometimes Herod kills John. But the Lord is the master. Master of sea and field. He sowed you, he send you out to sea; to bear fruit or to make a catch, not to fight the weeds or walk on water. You are to do good instead of evil - to bless instead of curse - to praise instead of criticize - to help instead of stand off - to love instead of hate - to forgive instead of resent - to tell truth instead of lies. Now and again you will eat manna as a foretaste of heaven. But normally it will be the day after Sabbath and work will demanded of you. Your work. It is yours and not anyone else’s. Manna has its time and God ordains that moment. Work has its time and God rains there as well. And even now he takes embarrassed old fishermen who try to walk on the sea back to the boat to tend their rudders, where in the end they do the good they were meant to.