Just a few weeks ago we had a power outage in Wilmington, perhaps you remember the Saturday. The stop lights were out, the restaurants were empty, the gas stations closed, and for me the worst part … no coffee!
In all seriousness, for my two boys, the hardest part was the fear. They were afraid — what was going to happen, why was there no electricity, when would it be turned back on? If you remember, it was on the heels of some pretty nasty storms, so they associated the power outages with the storms. They were afraid. Fear sent them into panic.
When the power was restored they continued to be uneasy. Even after the power came back on they talked about the lights being off, they held onto their fear.
For me and my church, fear is a small part of our life now. We live in a post “St. Louis” state of the church. In St. Louis the church decided to uphold the current Book of Disciple (The Book of Discpline is our church constitution and guidelines for how we order and live together globally and locally) adding several more punitive measures regarding marriage and ordination of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.
We, like my boys, have been holding onto a bit of fear. Will the church stay together? Will we fall apart?
The truth is, we don’t know.
I hold onto the story in the book of Matthew 14: 22-34 — it is the story of the followers of Jesus being caught in a storm.
The boat was being tossed and they felt they were going to be lost. Then they see a figure coming towards them. It was Jesus. The followers were terrified.
I totally get it. In the midst of the storm of our church, in the storms of life, it is easy to lose sight of Jesus. Yet he always provides for us. He always reveals himself.
He said to them, “Be Encouraged, It’s Me Do not be Afraid” I imagine the 11 disciples were overjoyed, relieved.
Yet, Peter does something remarkable. He looks beyond his own fear, wondering if he can join Jesus.
We often accept when our fear is gone and go about our lives, but what if we didn’t. What if we took the next step? What if there was more?
At Wilmington United Methodist Church we are getting out of the boat. Sure, there is a bit of fear of what is coming: What will the General Church do?
But the truth is, we will be an inclusive united church who believes all people matter to God and to us. We love all people, we want to make an impact in our community and beyond. We will not be bound by the storms around us, we are getting out of the boat.
If you are facing a storm in your life, know that Jesus will reveal himself to you; be encouraged, it’s him, be not afraid. Please know you are not alone. There are others who also find themselves in the midst of a storm.
So often it is helpful to find people who can help you weather the storm together. Reach out to a friend or neighbor.
The 23rd Psalm reminds us that the Good Shepherd has a rod and staff, something to prod us, but to support us. Someone to support you and to help you along.
Reach out in the midst of the hardships of life. Find a church in your neighborhood. Read Matthew 14:22-34 with a fresh set of eyes.
Fear paralyzes us, but love sets us free.
Rev. Marie Smith is with Wilmington United Methodist Church.