Paul wrote to the people at Ephesus, “I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.” And what shall we do with this power and love from the Holy Spirit?
I’ve never met anyone who walked on water, have you? I think about the disciples rowing across the Sea of Galilee in the evening with another storm blowing around them. They look up and see what they think is an apparition. Are they seeing a ghost approaching them? Jesus assures them, “It is I, do not be afraid.” They want him to get in the boat with them but discover they are at the shore near Capernaum.
I believe Jesus chose these men originally because they were looking for God. When they found Jesus or when he found them, they believed they had found someone who could show them how to find God. I don’t think, from today’s story, they were expecting someone who could multiply food and feed thousands of people and especially not someone who could walk on water. I understand feeding the hungry, but what purpose does walking on water serve? Or did Jesus expect that no one would see him?
Jesus had gone off by himself (though I don’t know how) when he saw the crowd might try to make him king. If a person chose to walk across a lake after dark, it is unlikely they would encounter anyone except the occasional night fishermen. It would be similar to using an invisibility cloak like Harry Potter. But, the disciples saw him and wondered what on earth they were viewing!
Jesus (taking extreme measures to avoid the crowds) decided to walk across the lake. Besides Peter’s failed attempt to walk on water, the only other such event I know of is St. Mary of Egypt walking across a river. But, I have told that story before.
I have spent a lifetime seeking God and I have met many saints in that time. There was no one like St. Mary of Egypt, a few like St. Peter, and no one who could walk on water--though what they did after dark, in secret I do not know.
Decades ago I was asked to serve on a board addressing the homeless populations on the Eastside of Lake Washington--truly invisible people living in tents in wooded areas. I had no idea they were there but a deacon in the church brought trouble to me and I answered the call. I imagine many of those wooded areas have disappeared and now the homeless in Bellevue as well as many other areas in Western Washington are more visible and hard to ignore.
Here in Grays Harbor County, we are focused on people living on the North shore of the Chehalis River adjacent to downtown Aberdeen and people who hang out on the city sidewalks. We also have many wooded areas and other locations where people live rough.
There are people on the South shore of the Chehalis. At least one good-sized encampment is in Central Park, people live up Bear Creek, and folks walk down the railroad tracks in Montesano to get to an encampment within our city are just a few that I know. I have developed the senses to notice people who are living on the edge and now I can no longer ignore them.
I want to engage with people and discover who they are. I want to hear their voices and help others to hear them, too. That is how I want to use the power and love of the Holy Spirit.
So, last week, I went to visit a friend because we were already planning a trip to Seattle and I have been worried about her. She is not homeless but she is alone in the world if you look at family connections. She is not alone if you see her support network of friends. And, she is in Seattle and her friends are in Grays Harbor County. So, we made sure to leave a little time to shop for snacks on the way up and deliver them in person so she knows how much we love her.
Not too long after arriving, she told us that another woman from Grays Harbor was down the hall. Now, this is just a crazy coincidence. I did not know the woman down the hall but I asked a nurse if I could see her and she was glad to let me go to her room. She has had no visitors since arriving at this facility. She, too, ended up in Harborview after a train ran over her and she lost part of both of her legs. Now she and my friend are in the same facility.
I introduced myself and she told me she would go to a group home next as she couldn’t live on the river anymore without legs. Her injuries are healing, she is no longer having constant flashbacks to the accident, and she is hopeful for the future. And, she needs underwear! She told me because I asked what she needed.
She looked so pretty with her freshly cut hair and her painted fingernails! And, I remembered her face! I had encountered her before somewhere. I guess I am bringing trouble to you today--again! Use your Holy Spirit power and love to pray for Lisa and Trina as they try to heal, as they speak to power to receive what they need. I will go back again in early August when I have to return to the Seattle area for a memorial service and a doctor’s appointment. I hope to have presents for both of them then.
So, this past week, I have sought out and found God in the apprentices at Harbor Roots, in the face of my friend in a Seattle nursing home and now, a new friend there. And, then there were the folks who are in the ordination process who are doing all kinds of ministry in preparation for holy orders. And in the spouse who handed me a check, from her own Holy Spirit power and love, for $3000 for Chaplains on the Harbor. Not walking on water but a July miracle, for sure!
God is at work in mysterious ways. As Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, “…and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations…” Let’s all tap into this Holy Spirit power and love.