Tenth Sunday after Pentecost- Week of August 9, 2020
Begin your devotion time by praying this prayer: Grant to us, Lord, we pray, the spirit to think and do always those things that are right, that we, who cannot exist without you, may by you be enabled to live according to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Collects: Contemporary, Book of Common Prayer, p. 232)
Adult and Small Child
Read: Matthew 14:22-33
Reflect: Jesus is still searching for alone time to pray. Last week thousands of people followed him to his secluded spot on the side of a mountain, asking to be healed and fed. He gave up his prayer time to give the people what they wanted. This week, Jesus dismisses the huge crowd of followers, while sending his disciples away in a boat for a nighttime sail across the Sea of Galilee. Finally, he is alone and prays all night.
In the morning, a raging wind batters the disciples’ boat. They are scared, but even more terrified when they see what appears to be a ghost towards them across the Sea of Galilee. As he draws near Jesus calls out, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”
It’s easy to relate to the disciples this week. We grow scared when we see unfamiliar people in front of us, find ourselves in new situations or situations in which we have no control. These are the moments Jesus is saying to us, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Jesus is with us, walking with us. Comforting us when we are scared and sad. Don’t be afraid; Jesus is with you.
Respond: This story is perfect for a dramatic retelling. Take turns acting out the different parts of the story: the disciples, Jesus, Peter, even the crashing waves, and the boat. Invite participants to imagine what each character is feeling throughout the events. Then, spend time talking about Jesus’ three-fold response: “Take heart, It is I; Do not be afraid.” The first offers encouragement, the second offers reassurance of Jesus’ presence, and the third reminds us not to be scared. Which of these three responses do you most need to hear today? Which response do you want to hear when your life feels stormy?
- Allison Liles
Adult and Elementary
Read: Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28
Reflect: Families don’t always get along. Adults argue. Siblings bicker. This is normal. Everyone plays their roles – the baby, the bossy one, the “bad” kid. But sometimes it goes beyond bickering and families do hurtful, awful things to one another. Joseph’s family did. Joseph was the spoiled baby of his family and Joseph’s brothers couldn’t stand him. They probably teased him. He probably tattled on them. But in their jealousy, they went too far and actually thought about killing him. Fortunately, Joseph’s brother Reuben talked them out of that evil idea, but they still decided to sell Joseph to live as a slave. The brothers thought they’d be rid of Joseph and everything would be… better? But how? How could they be so horrible and so foolish? We can see this was a terrible, destructive idea and one that could only bring misery to their entire family. Yet God had other plans for Joseph and his brothers, despite the brothers’ wicked actions, and reconciled this family in a way they could never have anticipated. Have you ever fought with a family member and felt that it went too far? That something happened that could never be made right?
Respond: Talk about your family about how you engage with one another. What are the communication patterns, words, and actions that show how much you love each other? What are the ones that are irritating, discouraging, or demeaning? What are the different roles you play? How can you change the patterns to be more loving to one another? And sadly, if there are members of your family with whom you are estranged, can you talk about that? How do these damaged relationships continue to impact all other family connections? These are awful, difficult and heart-wrenching conversations. Invite God into these conversations, especially if reconciliation is not possible or safe. Pray for each member of your family by name. Try to include even those who may be estranged, with the hope that each person can live into the being the person God intended them to be.
- Lisa Brown
Adult and Youth
Read: Matthew 14:22-33
Reflect: “Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream, merrily merrily, merrily, merrily life is but a dream.” Do you remember singing this melody in your kindergarten or elementary years? It is such a beautiful reminder to keep pressing on. Have you ever been fearful or tired of a certain situation?
I can recall the fright that overshadowed me when I had my first piano recital. The day before the recital, I was so confident that I would make an effort to be superb. On the day of the recital, I trembled over the thought of not being fit, or making a mistake. When my name was called, I quietly walked to the stage and sat. I closed my eyes and I said “God be with me.” A sense of calm came over me and I played a hymn, my first hymn ever: “Praise to the Lord the Almighty.”
I am not sure what you are fearful of at this time. I am not sure if words alone can help your situation, but I leave this with you: in our moments of fear, God who puts us to the test will never abandon us. Without God, the storms that rage would overshadow, but in God, all fear is gone. Trust God and live!
Respond: Make a list of your fears or the things that pull you away from your talent. This might help you to become more comfortable to know fear is common, after all Peter was fearful, but God who is always with us will never allow us to become a victim of fear.
- Trevaughn Todman
Adult and Adults
Read: Matthew 14:22-33
Reflect: This is the second week in a row where our Gospel reading depicts Jesus taking some alone time. During his ministry, he is usually accompanied by his disciples and often found with a crowd. But even Jesus needs a break sometimes in order to recharge. God called Jesus to lead and Jesus is ready to live according to God’s will. Teaching, preaching, healing, and performing miracles; Jesus does what he was born to do. And his disciples do their best to also. They follow Jesus’ instructions to feed the hungry, they get into the boat and set off when it is time. They respond to Jesus with faith that he will lead them to life as God wills it to be even when that means stepping out onto the water or uncharted territory. May we be so moved by hearing the Gospel that we step out to live as God calls us to.
Respond: Name one thing aloud that causes you to cry out in fear just as the disciples did when they thought they saw a ghost. We all have fears that we live with daily. God calls us to set those fears aside and walk with Jesus. Try a session of centering prayer using the mantra “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” These were Jesus’ words to his disciples and they are good for us to hear today as well. Find a comfortable seat, feet flat on the floor, back straight, eyes closed. As you inhale say with the voice of your mind: “Take heart, it is I.” As you exhale: “Do not be afraid.” Try this exercise for five minutes and see how it might change you.
- Samantha Clare
Download a printable copy of this week's reflections HERE.