Tossed Like a Ship

The traditional name for the central part of the church is the nave. The maritime name comes from the idea that the church is, like Noah's Ark, protection from the storms that rage outside.

It's the stories like the flood, the parting of the Red Sea, and the fear of the power of water that sit behind the story of Jesus walking on water. He comes across the Sea of Galilee in the midst of a terrifying storm. When they recognize him, Peter says, "Lord, if it is you, command me to walk to you." Jesus says, "Come." Peter sinks, an cries out, "Lord, save me!" Jesus pulls him out of the waves and says, "O you of little faith. Why didn't you believe?"

Most of us read this story and assume it's about Peter's lack of faith. If he had enough, he would have stayed afloat, the thinking goes. My take is a little different. I think that Jesus is showing his power over the terrifying force of nature, by both walking on water and calming the storm, and therefore exhibiting divine power. When Peter falls in, it's not because he didn't have enough faith; it's because he's not divine. And Jesus' challenge to him for his lack of faith isn't about him sinking; it's about him fearing that Jesus might not save him.

I wonder how often we think we can walk on water ourselves and then are shocked when we aren't keeping our heads above water. But more importantly, whether or not the storm is of our own making, the one who can calm the waters is never far away.

We spent today on the Sea of Galilee, visiting the stretch of holy sites dedicated to various miracles and teachings of Jesus. And before we did that, we took to the Sea on a boat of our own, a nave which became our church for the day. The seas were choppy, and giving a reflection and having communion with the waves rocking the boat back and forth added a layer of realism to the gospel reading above. But what a reminder of the one who rides the storm out with us!