Last Thursday (and Sunday too) we read about Peter, the rock of the church, sinking as he tried to walk on water (Matthew 14:22-33). I’m going to own my church nerdiness right now. I love that Peter is “petros” in Greek and means rock. I love that he is the symbolic “rock” on which the church gets founded. And, even more, I love that he is, literally, the rock that sinks while walking on water. Never fails to make me giggle. Yes, I giggle when Peter starts to panic and sink. Mostly, because I know that feeling.
I was reflecting on this story as I prepared to preach at a small congregation in South Minneapolis. I realize, yet again, how the biblical narrative seems to ring so true for us in Shobi’s Table.
Throughout the year of discerning God’s call to ministry on the margins of St Paul, I wondered if God was really calling us to a food truck and ministry on the streets. There were days, like when I met with the staff at St Andrew’s Lutheran Church, that I clearly heard Jesus say, “come.” And, I went. I walked and all was good. But, it wouldn’t take long before I realized I was walking by faith and got scared. I was scared of what the power of God could do. And, I would sink.
Those were hard days. My family can tell you that. Those were the days when I repeatedly asked if this was a stupid idea. I asked God what in the world God was thinking. I’d start to panic a bit and I’d sink.
But, in the midst of the panic, Jesus would intervene. It was my family saying this was the right path. It was in the words of church partners getting excited about possibilities. And most importantly, it was when the community of Shobi’s Table saw the vision.
This past weekend there were lots of chances for ministry. I got to explain baptism to a friend whose daughter will be baptized in a few weeks. My friend was not raised as a Christian. She has lots of questions and wonders lots of things about how and what we believe. It is my honor to be a trusted person of faith in this setting.
As we talked, my friend’s husband, a faithful lutheran, gushed about the love so many had already given their sweet baby girl. Not only love from blood relatives, but from friends spread far and wide. This baby and her parents had received the blessing of so much community.
I love explaining baptism to those who are new to the tradition. The new eyes of faith and the curiosity are such a gift to be in the presence of. It was my great joy to explain that the blessing of the family, both blood and community, was a part of the baptismal promises. I watched the relief in my friend’s face as she learned that this is a time when the community commits itself to the raising of this child. This is when we as a huge, ridiculous, wonderful, chaotic Christian family step up to the plate. We will promise to baby girl in a couple weeks, that she will be loved, nurtured, given the gift of faith, and brought to the community. When this little girl, inevitably, has questions about faith and God, there will be countless people to lovingly respond.
You see, that is the gift that Christ left with us. Peter was sinking. His fear overcame his faith, as it so often does. Yet, Christ, reached out and pulled him back into the boat.
Christ left us with the great commission: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.”
As we take those tentative steps of faith on the water, the disciples are there to pick us up and bring us back into the boat as we sink.
The disciples, called by the Holy Spirit have pulled me in several times. And they will pull this sweet baby girl back into the boat each time she panics. We know that there will be hard times for her and times of great joy. And in each of those times, the community of Christ will surround her with the gift of their own faith.
It is my deep privilege to welcome her to this crazy family. And my deep privilege to be a part of this family.
Thank you for being family with Shobi’s Table.
Keep hope alive and take a few steps. We’ll catch you.