He waka eke noa.  We are all in the canoe without exception.  We are all in this together.

Welcome to the gathering of St. Mark’s Church (Sunday worship under one roof) on Sunday, August 16th, 2020.

Service led by David Sang-Joon Kim.                    Pianist: Megoe Chen.

Romans 10:10-12, 14-15

For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. No one who believes in him will be put to shame. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. And how are they to believe in the one of whom they have not heard? So, how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

So together, gathered by our God, we worship our God of Jesus Christ, one who is impartial and gracious. As we worship, as we call upon him, may we see salvation created among us, to be witnesses of God’s compassion and grace so that we go out to share the good news, share the life of new creation, centred in love.

I invite you now to a time of prayerful reflection. Please engage with my offering prayerfully. How you choose to engage with it, I leave that up to you.

Prayerful Reflection

Blessed are the merciful.                                             He waka eke noa.  

Lord have mercy on us.         We are all in the canoe without exception.

Show Your mercy through us.                        We are all in this together.

Music: Blessed are the merciful by The Porter’s Gate  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2el5YwegO0M

Song                    ‘Jesus Calls Us’

Welcome and Notices

Praying the Psalm

We will pray a psalm together. Before we do, let me give an explanation. This section of the psalm is a psalm of proclamation and praise. The poet names God as the God of grace and compassion, who responds to our cries and draws near. To a world where it is full of anger, lacks love, where there is no one who cares to hear our cries, where the loudest voices of the wicked drown out the praises of creatures, this poet proclaims this, the good news, that the Lord is gracious and compassionate, the Lord is good to all.

How is our world like to which we proclaim the good news, the goodness of God? How will you name the God you proclaim to the world that longs for glad tidings? Can I invite you to take a moment to pray in the silence and name the God that this broken and hurting world needs? Let us proclaim the name of God as we pray together the psalm.

Psalm 145: 8-9, 17-21

The Lord is gracious and compassionate,

slow to anger and rich in love.  

The Lord is good to all,

and his compassion is over all that he has made.  

The Lord is righteous in all his ways,

and faithful in all he does.  

The Lord is near to all who call on him,

to all who call on him in truth.  

He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;

he hears their cry and saves them.  

The Lord watches over all who love him,

but all the wicked he will destroy.  

My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord.

Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.

Prayer for Others

We respond by singing the Lord’s Prayer together [offering to be brought up during the chorus “Amen”]:

Offering and Dedication Prayer

Song                    ‘From Heav’n You Came [The Servant King]’

Scripture             Matthew 14:22-33                                             reading from the New Revised Standard Version

22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. 25 And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea.

26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

28 Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

This is the Word of the Lord                                        Thanks be to God

Sermon reflection

Trust, strengthen, God in us, our leaders, collaboration, community, working together, hope.

To be in the midst, not to find land. To trust in the peace that only God can give. All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

What turbulent times we are living in! Like the stormy sea where the waters rise and fall quickly and unexpectedly, our circumstances are changing quickly by a storm of another kind – a pandemic. As the disciples found themselves battered by the waves and the wind, I wonder whether there is some correlation to our situation.

The Sea of Galilee is a lake familiar to them. It was familiar in the sense that it is a familiar sight. In the way we would find comfort and relaxation to enjoy the view of New Brighton and Sumner. Familiar in the way that time and time again, we can rely on it for sustenance and nourishment for the body and soul.

For Peter, Andrew, James and John who lived off the lake as fishermen, sailing in and out, it was familiar in a deeper level. They knew the lake in ways that most of us wouldn’t. They knew the environment of the lake, the ecosystem, the conditions for sailing, it was their world.

In the ancient world, the waters always had a double layered meaning. There was always a sense of mystery attached to it. It arose from the very fact that though it was familiar, it could not be controlled. Though the sailors were skilled, the waters could not be mastered over. It was dangerous.

The disciples caught in the middle of a storm out in the lake, their world, are battered by the waves, where their relative grasp, mastery of it, becomes apparent. But there they are, what are they to do? In the midst of the chaos, they see something.

The disciples see something that they think is a ghost. In the midst of chaos, fear drives us to gravitate towards fear. Fear often creates mistrust. As if only I can look after myself. I cannot trust anyone else for my safety. To all this, Jesus comes in their midst, in the midst of fear, in the midst of chaos. Jesus calls out to them, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Jesus comes to calm their fear. Perhaps, Jesus comes to literally take their heart, hearts that has been robbed by fear. Because when a storm surges around us, a storm surges in our hearts too. It is as important to calm the storm of our hearts as it is to quell the storm raging around us.

As Jesus draws near to them, calming the fear and reclaiming their hearts, Peter, asks that he come towards Jesus. Peter is right in one sense. Peter is right that where Christ is there is salvation. Where Christ is we experience peace like no other. Where Christ is all shall be well, all manner of thing shall be well. But I wonder whether Peter is wrong in another sense. Peter steps out leaving behind the boat. To be more true, Peter leaves behind his community seeking salvation. But can salvation be grasped at? Is salvation for me without my community?

Jesus tells him. You of little faith. Why did you doubt? This can be understood in two ways. Yes Peter you have expressed your faith that in Christ there is salvation, in Christ there is peace, in Christ all shall be well. But would there be a fuller faith? Well, Jesus shows it to him. Jesus takes Peter to return to the boat together to where the community is. It is when they return to the boat, the winds ceased. As if to say, salvation God offers is not to be grasped at but to receive; the salvation God reaches out to us with, is not for myself, but together with the community.

We are familiar with our world. Familiarity with our world, the way we know what to expect, what not to, how we can navigate it, to get the most out of it, brings us comfort and a sense of tangible control, we can plan ahead, being quite certain that it will come to pass.

Some of us know it more than we do. Our experts. The scientists, the doctors, the politicians, economists, just to name a few. Thank God for them. They know the patterns of our world and its anomalies to the extent plans and ways are paved for the betterment of life.

But it seems, when a storm strikes, when the firm ground turns into liquid, it becomes dangerous. When we find ourselves in the midst of a storm of a pandemic, we realise or we need to realise, our familiarity, our sense of control of our world is relative. When we thought we had the pandemic under control, when we have become complacent, it arises to shock us.

Yet we hear voices that seem to claim that they know it all, that they have grasped it all. And often they are the loudest. Not only are they the loudest, they are voices of mistrust, voices of discordance, voices of contempt, voice of misinformation.

Like the wind in a storm at sea, these voices create noise and fear, trying to take our attention away from what is most important, what is needed at hand. But in a storm at sea, to survive you do not catch the wind, you ride out the waves.

And remember, as Jesus drew near to the disciples in the midst of the storm, God draws near to us today. Christ is our salvation we look to, for in Christ, salvation is not about plucking us out, but to ride out the waves with me together with our community.

So we pray to God in the name of Jesus Christ to calm this storm of a pandemic and then to bring it to an end. In so doing, we ask that Christ shall speak to us to take heart, to calm the storm of fear that rages in our hearts. For if we give our hearts over to fear, we shall give ear to voices of mistrust, voices of discordance, voices of contempt, voices of misinformation. No. Instead, let us give our heart to Christ who shall silence the winds of noises so that in the calmness we shall hear his voice whose voice is of love, community, solidarity, compassion.

Song                              ‘By The Father Of Lights (Kupu Whakapono)’

Sharing of the Peace of Christ               Peace of Christ be with you

Song of Sending                   ‘Now As We Go

Benediction

The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,

the Love of God,

the Communion of the Holy Spirit

be with us all

now and forever.

Amen.