Sermon - August 13, 2023 - St. Martin's In the Desert

Sermon – August 13, 2023

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost: 
Year A
August 13, 2023

First Reading: Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28
Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b
Second Reading: Romans 10: 5-15
Gospel: Matthew 14: 22-33


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

How Great is your Faith 

Gospel: Matthew 14: 22-23

This past week we were all horrified by the fire that swept across Maui and destroyed thousands of buildings, homes, and communities. 100’s of souls may be missing.

The fire burned the beautiful town of Lahaina. A town filled with history, the 200-year-old banyan trees, and the historic church, that was among the beloved landmarks. 

The church has been standing since Lahaina was the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii in the 1800.

I have never had to escape for my life, in a fire, war, flooding, other natural disasters.  So, to say I understand is only a cliché, that should not be used. We do not know what they went through, but we can imagine the horror of it all; and bow our heads in prayer. I do know, if I was in a situation like this, I would be calling out to Jesus, just like Peter did.

“Lord, save me!” 

In the chapter 13 prior to this one and in chapter 15, the chapter after, Jesus had found out about the death of John the Baptist and He had gone off alone in a boat to pray. 

What did the crowd do? They followed Him. 

The disciples wanted Jesus to send them away, it was getting late. Jesus wants the disciples to feed them first. They replied, but we only have 5 loaves and two fish. Jesus looked up to heaven and blessed and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples and all ate, about 5000 in all.

Jesus sends the disciples out in the boat to the other side. Jesus went up the mountain by himself to pray…again! When evening came, He was alone again, and the boat was far out in the lake, the wind had become so strong, they were trying to row against it, waves crashing up against the boat, rocking it around. Some of the disciples were experienced fishermen and most likely had callused hands from rowing, but to row against the wind is another story.

The wind in Maui, is what caused the fire to destroy so much in its path, no matter how we try we can not stop the wind, we are however trying to use the wind to our advantage by powering electricity, but to stop it, it is not happening. 

Jesus came walking toward the disciples on the water, at 4:00 in the morning and when they saw him, they were terrified, thinking maybe a ghost! Jesus, spoke and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Now the disciples are truly terrified. The same words are used to express Herod fear at getting the news from the magi that a child was born to be king; the same fear that Zachariah mute when an angel of the Lord appeared in the Temple. These same words familiar to them. 

“Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Was it the storm that tested the disciples or was it the presence of Jesus in the storm?

We have read in different lessons of the gospel, “do not be afraid,” the angles spoke to Joseph and Mary, about Jesus, the same words to Peter, John, and James on the mountain, and by an angel to the woman at the tomb of Jesus.

Great Faith

In the world we are living in today…I cannot think of a time when we need “Great Faith.” I feel we need to get down on our knee’s, in front of our Lord and ask him to help us. We need to pray not only for ourselves, but for our nation, our cities, and communities. And especially the Hawaiian people.

Our job is to recognize the presence of Jesus, He is always walking toward us. Listen to his words, trust Jesus, and get out of the boat. Ask for help when you need it. Cry out if you need to “Lord save me.” 

Pray that God will help those in Hawaii and hold your people together in these times.  Ask for his mercy and grace to help us all, to be patient with each other, and continue to love one another. 

We are living out our faith and we are being tested through trials and our faith should grow into the “Great Faith” that invites us to Him; empowering us to seek Him in every situation; and for us to trust Him always.

Jesus says, “Take Heart it is I; do not be afraid.”

 The Reverend Lola Culbreath