Human Interaction

“Most human interaction is for better or for worse. Each moment with another person can be an opportunity for discovery and growth or for the erosion of identity and the destruction of one’s personhood.”

This quote is from Robert Bolton’s 1986 book “People Skills”, and I think it highlights the enormous potential that we carry with us, every day. We carry the potential both to curse those around us and to bless those around us.

Each moment that we are with another person we can listen to them, we can encourage them, we can comfort them. We can, if it is appropriate, challenge them, inspire them, confront them. We can always speak the truth. We can always be loving – as love is described in 1 Corinthians 13.

Or, as is often easier, we can ignore them, snub them or put them off. We can crush their hope to connect with us simply by “getting on with our business”.

In the gospel reading set for today, Jesus walks on the water (Matthew 14:22-33). Jesus is clearly working from a different rule book, and Peter wants to join him. Peter is a fisherman. He knows how boats and water work. Or, how they usually work. Peter allows his faith in Jesus to challenge the ways he has always looked at water, and he steps out of the boat.

Will we allow our faith in Jesus to challenge the ways we look at the people around us?

In our song this morning, “Oceans”, there is the line “You call me out upon the water – the great unknown, where feet may fail.” This must be exactly Peter’s feelings as he steps out of the boat. But it’s the next line of the song that gives us courage: “And there I find you, in the mystery”. We can step out onto the water with faith, because we know that it is Jesus who is calling us.

When you’re with another person, and you find you have the opportunity to bless them, take the step with faith. Allow Jesus to call you out of the boat of your safety, to encourage a person whom you wouldn’t usually encourage, to comfort a person who doesn’t “deserve” comfort from you, or to be patient and kind in a way that Jesus would be.

Please notice, I am NOT suggesting that we put ourselves in harm’s way. I’m suggesting that we love our neighbours the way we want to be loved ourselves – the way that Jesus loves us. And I’m suggesting that when Jesus suggests we trust him, we fully trust him.

That is my hope and prayer

Ralph

In a tough spot, will you follow Jesus?

Have you ever had one of those days when nothing seemed to work out? Have you ever had one of those years?

COVID-19 has made life difficult and unpredictable for most people in the world.  All churches – including ours – have been trying to predict what the virus will do too. Churches, it turns out, are ideal spreading grounds: people gathering inside, for extended periods, vulnerable people, singing and preaching. It almost seems like God is asking us to be “the church” without meeting in our church building.

Can you conceive it? What are we if we can’t meet in our building? I imagine that the disciples felt something similar. In the Gospel reading from the Lectionary for today (Matthew 14:13-21), when faced with a hungry crowd, Jesus says to the disciples “You give them something to eat.” Can you imagine yourself there as a disciple? How do you respond?

I’m sure the disciples had no idea what Jesus meant. How can the few of them feed all these people?  But they had forgotten who it was whom they were following. 

As we read in last week’s lesson, we need to let the “yeast” of the Kingdom of God fill us and work it’s way deeply into us – like yeast through a whole batch of dough. Like the virus, but with very different results. The virus brings organ failure and death. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, goodness and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). 

The economics of God are not the economics of man.

If we can step out, like the disciples did, and offer our Lord the meagre resources that we still have, our story teaches that Jesus can do the miracle. In our scripture passage, the massive crowd all ate and had enough. In the story of our Church and Ashmore, what can Jesus do if we place into HIS hands the things that he has entrusted to us?

Let us hear the invitation today: “You give them something to eat” and reflect on what God might be calling us to.

And may God, in his mercy, and in Jesus’ name, bless us all with his grace and peace.

Ralph.