“Don’t be afraid! Take courage, I am here.”

Dear Church Family,

It’s been a mixed week here at the Rectory. My initial reaction to the Prime Minister's statement last Sunday was not entirely positive. I think a lot of us are craving clarity at the moment and I felt that we were offered mixed messages about what we can and can’t do in relation to “getting back to normal.” However, as I processed these feelings during the early part of the week, I found myself reading Matthew 14, where Jesus walks on water and says to His disciples, “Don’t be afraid! Take courage, I am here” in verse 27. Jesus says these words when His terrified disciples think they’ve seen a ghost! After reassuring them that they are safe and He is with them, He invites Peter out of the boat to join Him. Peter walks on the water before he is overcome by fear and starts to sink. Immediately Jesus takes hold of Peter and saves him. As I read, I felt the Lord saying those words from verse 27 to me, and to the church community, “Don’t be afraid…I am here.”

Photo by Tory Morrison on Unsplash

Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot to be worried about. This week has seen more cases of Covid-19 confirmed in Hutton and I have presided a number of very difficult funerals, with distraught families staring at a coffin being lowered into the ground, unable to hold each other as they weep for a loved one taken too soon. And yet, those words from Jesus don’t seem trite or wishy-washy in such difficult days – I have found them deeply comforting. If I didn’t believe that Jesus was with us, then there would be little point in me taking those funerals and offering Gospel hope and the love of God to those families. We should, of course, stay diligent in our social distancing and continue to pray for those suffering through these months.

I was also encouraged by the passage as we begin to lift our eyes beyond the lockdown. Jesus invites us to step out of the boat – to put our faith in Him. Let me be clear: there is no going back to the way things were. I wonder when we will be able to meet with the elderly from our congregations again. I wonder about how we will use our wonderful buildings to form a new vision for mission and ministry in Hutton in the next decade. All that wondering has to be focussed on Jesus though. Peter takes his eyes off Jesus and begins to sink and although Jesus rescues him, He also wants him to have greater faith. Jesus invites us to step out of the boat and look to Him – do we have the faith and trust to answer His invitation?

Photo by Billy Pasco on Unsplash

I have faith that we will re-open the buildings to worship and celebrate together again. But I also have faith that we will see God calling us to new ways of operating and reaching out with the Good News – I, like many church leaders, am praying for a revival in the church. Let’s keep ourselves focused on Jesus and hear His words to us again, “Don’t be afraid! Take courage, I am here.”