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Sunday 9th August 2020
Meeting by Mail No.24
Reading for today: Matthew 14.22-33
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
At a recent leadership team meeting, we reflected on this dramatic story from Matthew’s gospel.  I found it resonated with our recent experience.
Ups and downs
The storm in this story comes right after Jesus feeding 5,000 – a high point followed by a tough time.  We had a very positive Christmas at Badminton Road, worked with the Cubs and Beavers on their faith badge, we held the African Eden afternoon and were looking forward to a vision day in June.  Then the pandemic came and it feels like “rowing against the wind” (v.24) Ups… and downs…
The disciples were afraid (v.26)
Anxiety is natural when things suddenly change, when they are out of our control and when we have no idea what is going on.  Whether it is a storm, an unexplained appearance or a pandemic, if it causes us to worry, we are behaving as normal human beings.
Some were bolder than others (v.28)
Peter steps out, but the other disciples stay in the boat and Jesus does not judge them for not taking the step Peter does.  Some of us are naturally more ready to take risks than others and that’s okay.  We should not judge each other.  Perhaps this is helpful to remember as restrictions ease and we each have choices to make.
More ups and downs and fears for Peter (v.30)
When Peter takes his step of faith out of the boat, suddenly fear overcomes him.  I have found the same – I take a step of faith towards doing something positive and trusting, and then I hear the latest statistics or read the latest risk assessment and have a wobble!  Again, this is a normal human reaction.
A real threat to life
The disciples faced a storm knowing it was a real danger to life and to be taken seriously.  The same is true of the pandemic.
I find it comforting to see in the disciples a reflection of humanity in a tough time that rings true with the experience we are having today.  But how does it help us? 
The question to ask ourselves
When Peter looked at the waves and focused on danger he was in, he began to sink (v.30).  When he focused on Jesus and called out “Lord save me!”, he found Jesus by his side. (v.31) Perhaps we might ask ourselves: Where do we focus our attention?  Is it only on the danger?  Or is it also on Jesus?  Christ is present in the middle of the disciples’ situation, and he is powerful. 
Without foolishly ignoring the dangers around us, let us focus our attention on Jesus and strengthen our faith through his presence and power.
With every blessing,
Lord Jesus we see you there with your disciples in a hard time, when they were in danger and afraid.  Help us to focus our attention on you,
to grow stronger in faith
to have courage to serve you,
and to worship you with all our being.  Amen