Readings: Genesis 37:1-4,12-28; Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b; Romans 10:5-15; Mathew 14: 22-33
This morning’s sermon grows out of reflection on two Biblical figures in our readings today—Joseph from our Old Testament reading, and Peter from our Gospel reading. Joseph is called a dreamer by his brothers, and Peter is portrayed as a risk taker who stepped out of the boat and began water walking toward Jesus.
I think people of faith are called by God to be both dreamers and risk-takers.
First, Joseph, son of Jacob. At the time of this story, he is a 17-year-old, and his brothers said to one another —
Here comes this dreamer now. Let us kill him…we shall see what will become of his dreams.
The Beatle, John Lennon, wrote a wonderful and popular song about dreamers called “Imagine”. This is part of it.
Imagine all the people Livin’ life in peace. .. You may say I’m a dreamer But I’m not the only one I hope someday you’ll join us And the world will be as one. Imagine no possessions I wonder if you can No need for greed or hunger A brotherhood of man Imagine all the people Sharing all the world… You may say I’m a dreamer But I’m not the only one I hope someday you’ll join us And the world will live as one.
We, People of Faith, are to be the dreamers of our own day. We dream that by the love of God, all will be enriched and transformed so that our world will be a better place for all. We dream that loving God, loving neighbor, and loving self will change the world. To make our dreaming impact reality so that others will join us we need to extend our hands, we need to find partners, allies, love God, love our neighbor, and love ourselves, and walk beside us. We need to discover partners who will praise and love God with us. We need to discover partners who will love and serve neighbors with us. We need to discover partners who will love and care for us.
Rather than seeking only others who will partner with us in all three arenas, I think we need to reach out to others who will partner with us in each arena. So, we can partner with others for better health care for all. We can partner with others for better schools. We can partner with others for higher minimum wages. We can partner with others for food security. We can partner with others even when we may disagree with them on how to worship or on other current issues.
No matter what the dream’s focus is, there is always the possibility of headwinds, attempting to delay or even destroy our dreams.
In today’s story of Peter getting out of the boat and water walking toward Jesus, at first, Peter does just fine. He is totally focused on Jesus. But the wind kicks up, the waves get rough, and Peter becomes frightened. He loses focus, and he begins to sink. He takes his eyes off Jesus; he is distracted from his dream of walking with Jesus. It is then that his trouble begins.
There are always potential headwinds out there.
The United Methodists are now dividing over who can lead worship in that tradition. Loving God together has become a challenge. They will figure it out, just like the Episcopal Church figured it out.
Partnerships for students are presently strong in Central Pennsylvania—dedicated teachers, school clothing, classroom supplies, school meals, family food programs, and student resource officers. We need to keep our focus on supporting our students, our teachers, and their families.
Mental health, medical care, and love of self are still a work in progress. The headwinds remain strong. We need to figure it out.
Perhaps Joseph, like John Lennon, the dreamer, imagined a world where the love of God, love of neighbor, and love of self is in focus.
Perhaps Peter, as he stepped out of the boat, was willing to risk living in partnership with Jesus.
I think we are called to dream. I think we are called to partner with other dreamers. I think we are called to step out of the comfortable boat and take risks.
When we get distracted and lose our focus due to strong headwinds, I think we, too, can call out to Jesus for guidance and for his strong hand. Jesus will not let us sink beneath the waves.
In dreaming and in risk-taking for the love of God, for the love of neighbor, and for the love of self, we, too, will hear these words of Jesus:
Then the outreached hand of Jesus will hold us firmly, and we, like Peter, will be saved.