Words and phrases in the English language come and go. So what’s fashionable for one generation may not be for the next. I find that jargon words crop up all the time, some are easier to use than others.
So do you know what it means when someone begins a sentence with “hash-tag”? Would you know what “eating the frog” means? Well it means exactly what it sounds like – doing the one thing you have been avoiding. “Eat the frog” – getting it over and done with.
The opposite of eating the frog I suppose would be being in your comfort zone. So let me ask you. Where is your comfort zone?
Your comfort zone could be at home, secure, familiar and warm. This building and what it represents might be your comfort zone, a place for prayer and a chance to stop and to be in the presence of God.
Perhaps you need the comfort of another person who just by their touch or smile can make you feel at ease and able to cope with the day ahead.
Wherever we find it, or whoever it is with being in our comfort zone is all part of being who we are and it is often difficult to break out of it. Should we be willing to let go? Should we be afraid to?
What might happen if we left it and ventured out to a new place, beyond the familiar, letting go of what seems comfortable.
In this morning’s gospel Peter finds himself being thrust out of his comfort zone. He is in a boat, with the other disciples, in the dark, in a storm, and sees the ghostly figure of Jesus in the water heading towards him.
Wanting to be close to Jesus, Peter asks to walk towards him. Jesus just says “come”. Not come if you are able. Not come if you can swim. There were no other conditions. Peter reacted in faith, and the strength of Peter’s relationship with Jesus outweighs his ability to also walk on the water. Realising he can’t he begins to panic.
Peter’s life had been changed by Jesus. He had experienced a life of being uncomfortable, being impulsive, and being wrong sometimes.
All throughout his discipleship Peter followed – he never failed to follow but he often failed Jesus – remember how he denied knowing him when Jesus was on trial before his crucifixion. Peter certainly wasn’t perfect but he never gave up although he often acted first then thought later.
We may not attempt to walk on water, but we all at some point have had our faith tested. When we feel that God is calling us to do something we cannot achieve, or to deal with a situation that we cannot cope with.
That’s where our faith and trust become important. Jesus’ invitation is to us all: “Come”. “Come and see”, “Come as you are”. How easy is it to say, I’m fine thank you and easily retreat to our secure place where no one makes demands on you? That’s ok, you know. We like to be comfortable but a life of faith is about being who we are but also trusting God and allowing him to change us, allowing ourselves to stray from our comfort zone.
Matthew spoke last Sunday evening about “Being with God equals being changed”. His sermon has resonated with me all week as I have been thinking about the readings this morning.
Matthew said that being changed isn’t an instant transformation, and could take a life’s work to achieve. But like all journeys’ it begins with the first step, being willing to take a leap of faith out of your comfort zone.
In a few weeks, Faithbook returns to the Brown Cow. This strand of nurture allows everyone if they feel ready to come out of their comfort zone, to ask questions and think about what it mean to be Christian. Being in the pub for the evening, makes a statement about this faith community too. That a life of faith, following Jesus doesn’t confine itself to these four walls. Faithbook invites us all to get out of the boat and to make a leap of faith.
Peter was invited by Jesus to “come” to leave the safety of the boat. In faith he acted, and in doubt he showed he was human after all when he felt he couldn’t cope when began to panic.
We might not encounter the risen Christ in the water, but in order to encounter him we must step out of the metaphorical boat; away from the security of the boundaries we set ourselves.
At communion, the choir will sing one of my favourite hymns as the anthem. Dear Lord and Father of Mankind. The words are adapted from a poem written by an American Quaker; John Greenfield Whittier. He wrote the last verse about his own experiences of faith, living a sober life, dedicated to God’s will. He endeavoured to live a life of faith and to seek the stillness of God’s presence is reflected in his words.
May we know the presence of God in all of life’s earthquakes, wind and fires? May we be called from the comfort of our own boat by a still, small voice of calm?