This Sunday we are presented with two of my favourite but challenging passages of Scripture. In the Gospel of Matthew while Jesus is praying, having sent the crowds away, the disciples are on boat, far out in the lake battling with a heavy sea. He comes to them walking on the water.
In the First reading from the first book of kings, Elijah, fleeing from the wrath of King Arab and Queen Jezebel, after defeating the prophets of Baal, hides in a cave on Mount Horeb. He complains that he is the only one left to do God’s work and his mission is doomed to failure. God tells him to go outside to await an encounter with God. There is a mighty wind, an earthquake and fire but God is in none of these, the Lord comes instead in a gentle breeze. When Elijah heard this gentle wind, he covered his face with his cloak to encounter God.
We learn from the encounter that Elijah experiences, that God doesn’t always show himself in the way that we expect. Yes, “God is Lord of the wind and fire and power but God is also the Lord of the fearful, the discouraged, the threatened and he extends himself to them in ways that are appropriate to their fragility and vulnerability.”
The disciples battling the storm are fragile and vulnerable. Although they are frightened at the sight of Jesus coming on the water. Jesus says, “Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.” Peter in his eagerness says, “if it is you, tell me to come to you across the water…” Jesus says: “Come”. As long as Peter’s gaze if fixed on Jesus he is walking on the water. But he then his attention is on the force of the wind and the sea beneath him and he begins to sink. As he shouts out, “Save me!” Jesus puts out his hand and held him. When they both got into the boat the wind dropped. Jesus brings peace and calm to the chaos. Elijah in the midst of his stormy life and his fear, encounters the peaceful presence of God in the gentle breeze.
Like Peter, in the midst of our anxiety about what is happening in our world because of the effects of Covid-19, need to keep our eyes fixed on Christ. This is the way that we get through the stormy times we live in. What does this mean? To keep Christ at the centre of our lives. To deepen and strengthen that relationship by our prayer and remind ourselves that he is in our midst. With Elijah God was in the gentle breeze. Find moments of quiet and in the silence you create let God show himself to you. He reaches out to us and holds us. Lord deepen, increase and strengthen my faith.