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Today's scripture is Matthew 24:22-33.
Sermon Title: "Unraveled by Uncertainty"
Preaching: Rev. Tyler Amundson, Shiloh UMC
"Down to the River to Pray" - Southern USA folk song, words transcribed by Jackson Henry (c) 2011 Jackson Henry
"I've Got Peace Like A River" - African American Spiritual
"Wade in the Water" - African American Spiritual, music arr. by Carl Haywood. Arr (c) 1992 Carl Haywood
Liturgy: written for the series "Unraveled" by Sarah Are - A Sanctified Art LLC - sanctifiedart.org
Artwork: "Step Into the Swell" by Lislie Gwynn Garrity
At the start of this chapter, John the Baptist is brutally beheaded. Jesus withdraws from the crowds to a deserted place, yet is followed by the masses—perhaps many of them former followers of John the Baptist. Moved with compassion, he heals the sick and miraculously generates bounty from a meal of five loaves and two fish. Then, he “immediately” rushes the disciples into a boat, dismisses the crowds, and retreats to a mountain by himself. Perhaps he needs space to grieve John and to grapple with the gravity of his calling. The crowds and demands of his ministry were surging; in the same way, the waves and the wind begin to batter the boat that had drifted far from shore. If you’ve ever been in open water during a storm or even high winds, you know the shockwave of fear that pulses through your veins. Yet, as dawn breaks, a mirage beckons to them, casting out words to buoy them up: “Do not fear.”
What I find in Peter’s response is not a challenge or a profession of doubt, but a willingness to step into the swell, like a trust fall into the unknown. Perhaps in seasons when our sense of certainty and security unravels, our desperation is more likely to convert into courage. Is there something about unraveling that makes us a bit less risk-averse, a bit more willing to try what we wouldn’t have dared when everything felt predictable and sure?
Imagine this same scene with no storm, no raging seas, no ghostly glimpse of Jesus skimming the surface. Would Peter have stepped in then? Would he have expanded his definition of what’s possible? Would he have experienced the divine so surprisingly, so surely? Would you step in?
THANKS FOR LEADING US IN WORSHIP!
Pastor - Rev. Sarah Clark, Grace UMC
Preaching - Rev. Tyler Amundson, Shiloh UMC
Liturgy - Rev. Angie Dornisch, Hope UMC
Music - Dave Merkel (anywherechurch.org)
Recording/Editing/Production - Dave Merkel, Tyler Amundson, Sarah Clark
CCLI - 1101-2725
CVLI - 5041-18695