Eighth Sunday after Trinity – Sermon 244

8th January 2016 Off By Derek Buckthorpe

Eighth Sunday after Trinity

10.00am Morning Prayer – All Saints Thelwall

10th August 2014

Bible References :

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Prayer to Start


May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ






Walking – a favourite pass time for many – although you might need a stiff umbrella if you were taking one today-


The word Walk – is sometimes used  – in the bible – to symbolize the way we should live – and act – as Christians –  ‘walking in the way of Christ’-


It also reminds us that – life is like a journey – a pilgrimage – one in which we are traveling towards God –


The Bible is among other things –  a list of unforgettable walks – Peter’s walk on water – perhaps the most well known –


but there are other walks too – other journeys or parts of journey’s


Imagine for a few minutes we are sharing the journeys described in our two readings this morning – how would we react?  What would our response to God be?


Point 1        Elijah and the small voice of God


Elijah lived in one of the darkest times in Israel’s history – he preached during the reign of King Ahab and Jezebel – when there was a wholesale departure from the faith –


He had just experienced one of the high spots in His ministry – when the prophets of Baal – were humiliated on Mount Carmel –


but  – instead of admitting defeat – Queen Jezebel came after him with even greater ferocity – and Elijah’s faith became severely shaken –


fearing for his life – he fled  – and found himself in a cave –


‘Why are you here Elijah?’


‘Because of my great zeal for the Lord of Hosts’ – he replied – ‘The people of Israel have forsaken your Covenant, torn down your altars – and put your prophets to the sword – I alone am left – and they seek to take my life’


God told Elijah to go and stand on the mountain  – so he could see the Lord pass by –


All at once  –  there was a terrific wind  – that tore the mountain apart and sent rocks flying – but God wasn’t in the wind – then the ground began to heave and shake  – destroying everything around  – enough to turn anyone to God – but God wasn’t in the earthquake.  Then there was a great fire  – full of destruction and danger – and intense heat  – but God wasn’t in the fire –


– and finally there came “a gentle whisper” – and this terrified Elijah  – he pulled his coat over his face – for fear of seeing – he knew he had met the living God –

Elijah was running away from Jezebel because he doubted God – and now God was saying to him – have you forgotten? – I am the God of wind and earthquake and fire – I rule – not Jezebel –


Elijah also thought he was alone- and in fact there were seven thousand people in Israel who had not bowed their knee to Baal –


The Christian faith can be like a walk through the hills and mountains – at times exciting and rewarding – sometimes wearing and discouraging – when things go according to plan – and we are on the right path – its easy to trust and live in God’s Kingdom – but when things go wrong – and our faith is really tested – that’s when we need to know that God is there for us – to show us the right way ahead –


Through the experience of Elijah –  God is saying –   don’t be dismayed –  things are less dreadful than they seem – however isolated we may feel –  we are not left carrying the burden alone – Seen or unseen – there are others playing their part – Seen or unseen – He is always there to strengthen and support –  to see us through –


We – often expect – God to be in the spectacular –  but more often than not – it’s the still small voice  – the Holy Spirit – that direct and guides us forward –


God is here for us all to meet personally in Jesus Christ – we just have to listen for His call – and allow God to be God in our Lives – so that He can change us  – and use us to achieve great things for His Glory  –


which brings us on to Peter – and perhaps the most remembered walk of all –


point 2        Peter’s walk on water


In the Bible  – Peter is portrayed as something of a larger than life character – impetuous – ready for anything – someone who acts first and thinks afterwards –


his walk – is a model for all Christians to aspire to – in this passage he  presents us with a picture of the life of faith –  or rather half-faith – faith mixed with fear and doubt –  so typical of many of us – and of those disciples in the boat –


Like Peter – they’d seen Jesus’ power – heard His teaching – prayed His prayers – but they were still stuck – in the boat – professional fishermen – struggling with their oars – unable to make headway against the wind –


like them – we perhaps have discovered so much –  learned so much –  yet we are still without the  power to do many of the things that really matter –


we’ve invented machines that can win wars –  but not found one that will make peace – we’ve put men into space – but still can’t put food into hungry stomachs – we can listen to voices and songs being broadcast on the other side of the world –  but can’t hear the cries of people in our own street –


But there on the water is the shimmering figure of Jesus walking towards us – much of our world knows at least a little about Him –  but to many He’s  still a ghostly image or fantasy – even for those who believe in Him –  as the disciples did –  they didn’t really know what to expect –


But He seems to be doing the impossible – and sometimes we get the idea that it will be good to copy Him – if only we could – and that’s where Peter’s walk comes in  –


but – like Peter  – when our eyes drop for a moment to the waves –  and we sink – we feel alone against the elements –  that’s when we need to be reminded  – once more –  of Jesus’ voice –  and encouragement – almost a rebuke – ‘Is that really how much faith you have?’


Again and again throughout our Christian journey we are asked to do – what to us – seems   impossible – but for Jesus – a matter of faith –


living without the sin –

developing a serious habit of prayer –

keeping on with our Christian discipleship – despite all the opposition – and negative reaction


To us  – it might seem a big enough task – just to get this far –  just to get out of the boat –


and if we look at the waves – like those disciples –  – that’s what we will think –


but as Peter showed us in His walk – what we are really called to do – which might seem so hard for us to do in practice –  is to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus –  and our ears open for His encouragement – ready to respond and to do whatever He says –


Point 3        Keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus

For Christians – there’s only one way to live  – and one way to walk – and that’s with the teaching and love of Jesus Christ – and to be guided by Him and to Him  – through the power of the Holy Spirit


Jesus showed us how to care for one another – He walked among the sinful, the sick and those excluded from society setting an example for His followers


Jesus said that His own life is essential for life itself.  The Father had given Him life and He has the authority to give life to others.


Jesus said we must love our enemies as ourselves – He pioneered love as the prime way of breaking down hostilities and laying foundations of trust.  We too have to follow Jesus’s lead and  – patiently and carefully rebuild relationships to bring about change and healing


Jesus died that He might bring us to God – The main purpose of His death on the cross – was to remove our sins – wipe the slate clean – and free us from the shame and anxieties that gnaws away inside us   – by dying for us Jesus gave us a new beginning – and the opportunity to live in freedom and truth – in this life and the next –




So incredible walks of wonder – to learn from and to follow –


Jesus – is looking for a commitment from each one of us –  a personal response – that requires us to hear – proclaim and walk all the way to the Cross –


The truth is – with Jesus we are only one step away from the adventure of a lifetime – So come rain or shine – are we ready to take a life changing walk with Jesus today?




In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.