Yesterday at Linworth UMC the worship theme was “Step Out of the Boat.” It is based on the story of Jesus walking on water in Matthew 14:22-33. Peter, being called by Jesus, gets out of the boat and walks on the water. At least he walks until he notices the wind and the waves, realizes he can’t swim, and that the laws of nature say that he isn’t able to walk on water. Then he starts to sink until Jesus takes his hand and pulls him up again.
The shared sermon, by ministry intern Christi Mallasch and Lead Pastor Rae Lynn Schleif, talked about that first step of stepping out of the boat and what it takes to keep going when it looks like the wind and waves are going to drown you. Christi was hired by the church to live in a house in one of the worst neighborhoods in Columbus. As a young single woman she was scared, but she stepped out in faith and had a wonderful, productive, grace-filled year. Christi was able to lead the church in ministry in that neighborhood with tutoring, community events, building a Shalom Zone, and instituting produce giveaways in a “food desert.”
Pastor Rae Lynn talked about the first church she served, fresh out of seminary at age 24, a young single woman who was the first woman pastor of that church (as she has been the first at other churches). She talked about how she and that church had to step out of the boat together and how they managed to cling to Jesus through wind and waves. The Linworth church will be receiving its first African American Lead Pastor at the end of June and Pastor Rae Lynn challenged us to see it as another leap of faith.
Sometimes stepping out of the boat is the easy part. We are filled with enthusiasm and jump out joyously, amazed at what God is promising to do. But then we notice the wind and waves and we are overwhelmed by the difficulties, the challenges, the realities we face and we start to sink. It takes courage to keep on going – but it also takes something more. We need to cling to Jesus, to hold on to the outstretched hand, to put our faith – not in our own abilities – but in the grace of God.
Impossible to step out of the boat? Impossible to walk on water? Impossible to change our lives and begin again? Impossible to do something improbable, unlikely, against all reason?
Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” Matthew 19:26, New Living Translation
Step out of the boat. Step out in faith to see what God can do with us.