Proper 14 Year A 8/13/2023
1 Kings 19:9-18; Psalm 85:8-13; Romans 10:5-15; Matthew 14:22-33
Rev. Mark A. Lafler
We have a very familiar narrative of the stories of Jesus in our reading from the Gospel of Matthew today.
The disciples are on a boat in the middle of the lake…
There are waves…
The wind is howling…
It was in the dark of night…
Early in the morning…
Jesus walks on the water to come to them.
They thought he was a ghost.
Jesus calls to them.
Peter answers the call and actually gets out of the boat to meet Jesus.
He becomes distracted by the wind and Jesus saves him from sinking.
And then Jesus says this little beauty of a sentence:
You of little faith, why did you doubt?
I don’t know about you, but I always feel for St. Peter here…
He is the only disciple who gets out of the boat.
He is walking on water.
And just like that…
You of little faith….?
What about all the other disciples in the boat?
At least Peter got out of the boat.
It was a lesson on faith.
Faith… is a powerful little word.
Full of meaning.
Full of theological importance.
In fact, faith is one of the most important words in our Christian Belief.
Describing our way of life and our belief.
So today, I want to focus on this little word faith…
It is important that we have a good theological understanding of
and its power.
The word faith refers to both intellectual belief and to relational trust.
In the bible there does not seem to be a distinction between these two: faith as belief and faith as trust.
One idea is more mental using one’s psyche.
The other is more active and in relationship with someone else.
True faith really consists of both what is believed and the personal commitment to a person who is trustworthy, reliable, and able to save.
When we use the word faith we mean both – intellectual and relational.
It is by faith that we are made righteous before God.
St. Paul is clear to point this out in the book of Romans…
Looking back at Abraham from the book of Genesis…
Abraham did not become righteous because of his good works…
By offering sacrifices…
Nor by obeying some moral code.
St. Paul writes:
If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does Scripture say? “
Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
He quotes from the Old Testament (Genesis 15.6) that Abraham was made righteous because of his faith.
It is also by faith that we are made righteous.
We are not righteous because we follow a moral code,
nor because we do good works.
We are made righteous because of God’s gift.
As it is written:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—
and this is not from yourselves,
it is the gift of God—
not by works,
so that no one can boast.
Salvation is not about our efforts but something God does.
We are not justified by what we do, but because of what God did.
We are not made righteous because we work so hard at it…
We are made righteous by faith.
It is in God’s hands.
The great author C. S. Lewis writes:
The sense in which a Christian leaves it to God is that he puts all his trust in Christ:
trusts that Christ will somehow share with him the perfect human obedience which He carried out from His birth to His crucifixion:
that Christ will make the man more like Himself and,
in a sense, make good his deficiencies.
And even this faith…
That makes us righteous…
That justifies us…
That makes a way for the saving grace of God…
Is a gift from God.
Faith is a gift from God.
This is made clear in the scriptures.
St. Peter wrote in his second epistle:
Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours…
(2 Peter 1:1)
St. Paul writes in his letter to the church in Philippi:
For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him…
St. Luke writes in the Acts of the Apostles regarding a healing of a lame beggar:
It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.
We are saved by God’s gift of grace…
By God’s gift of faith…
By the faithfulness of God.
And so, we live by faith…
Ever more faithful…
Because God is faithful.
Faith is a small word…
But it sure has big meaning!
And it shapes the way we live.
When trouble comes our way…
We live by faith.
When our world seems to be falling apart…
We live faithfully.
Even when we are the cause of the trouble and difficulty…
Although we hope and do things to make things right…
We rest in the faithfulness of God…
To reconcile us and the people around us.
Faith is living the reality of a God-soaked world when the rest of the world doesn’t see it.
Dr. Pamela Reeve wrote:
Faith is engaging in the deepest joy of heaven,
knowing His unfathomable love for me
as I walk through the thorny desolate now.
I was talking to Beth Crandle this week,
one of our parishioners who moved up to New England a while back, and we were reflecting on our Church Preschool.
You see Beth (and others) were instrumental in re-branding and reviving our school back in 2015 and 2016 just as I arrived in the summer of 2016 to be the priest here at St. Edward’s.
The school was getting licensed and approved to be a VPK program.
The church hired a new director and a new teacher.
And they needed students.
And a few came.
We started the Preschool that fall with just 5 students.
You know… It is hard to pay two teacher salaries with only 5 students.
But it was a start.
Beth mentioned in my phone call with her, remembering this time, she said:
“We took a step of faith.”
And it really was…
The school grew from there…
Survived a shutdown due to the Pandemic…
And now it is thriving with 56 students to start the week.
But it took grit…
It took perseverance…
It took Faithfulness to the mission…
It took faith.
The church and the vestry had to take a step of faith…
Faithful to the mission that began so long ago.
This doesn’t mean there won’t be trying times in the future for the church and for the school.
Likewise, just because you are a person of faith doesn’t mean that there aren’t going to be any challenges, dangers, or hardships.
But it does mean that we continue to walk in faith.
As God leads us into the future.
This is why the walk of a Christian is often called a faith journey….
Or a walk of faith.
Just like St. Peter…
We are called to get out of the boat.
Take those steps.
But instead of just focusing on the wind around us…
The Turmoil of the world…
We keep our eyes fixed-on Jesus.
We keep our path toward him.
We let our actions speak the ways of Jesus.
We season our words with the compassion of the Gospel.
If you have a situation in your life…
Where all seems to be going the wrong way…
Where it seems, hope is fading…
I encourage you today…
To take up that shield of faith (Ephesians 6.16)…
Walk in faithfulness…
pressing toward the goal… the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3.14)
Staying faithful in prayer… And in the Scriptures.
God will see us through.
By the gift of his faith in us.
For he loves us so…
And it is in his love… that we rest.
 Grenz, Guretzki, and Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms (Downers Grove: IVP, 1999), 50.
 C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book III, Chapter 12, p. 128.
 Pamela Reeve, Faith Is