Traveling with Christ

Hear a short recap of the Sunday service:

Watch the 11 AM Celebration of the Holy Eucharist

Watch the 6 PM Celebration of the Community Eucharist.

The written version of the sermon is here:

After a long year of being cooped up, a lot of people are beginning to travel, or at least beginning to think about travelling. Many families are getting together for the first time, this Father’s Day weekend, to celebrate Dad, or the memory of Dad, or to combine with Juneteenth, or simply to give thanks for vaccines and the ability to move around and be together.

Maybe for all these reasons, as I listen to the scripture readings for today, I hear in them a kind of travel narrative. In today’s readings there are accounts of people who have been places. They have seen things, and they have been changed. 

In the very short reading from Job, God reminds Job that Job really has not been to as many places as he thinks. But God takes Job back.  But then in words and images God recounts to Job what it was like at the beginning, when God laid the very foundation of the earth. When God says to the very seas themselves, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed.’” No, for all Job’s experience, put in that context, he really hasn’t seen very much at all.

With a word [God] called up the wind–
an ocean storm, towering waves!
You shot high in the sky, then the bottom dropped out;
your hearts were stuck in your throats.
You were spun like a top, you reeled like a drunk,
you didn’t know which way was up.
[But] then you called out to [the Lord] …
[and] he got you out in the nick of time.
He quieted the wind down to a whisper,
[and] put a muzzle on all the big waves.  (The Message, Psalm 107)

This trip across the Sea of Galilee quickly becomes the kind of travel story you hope you never have to tell—“Remember the time.” Remember that time in the storm. Remember that time when we got lost. Or even more tragic, remember that time when it felt like a storm and we lost someone we loved. The disciples are afraid and so they wake up Jesus who looks at them with surprise. He speaks and the storm is stopped. The disciples are stopped. Time is stopped. “Peace. Hush. Be quiet. Be still.”

Faith is movement. If we are in love with God, and or if we have the slightest bit of belief that God is in love with us—that love will change us. It moves us from place to place. I don’t know where this travel narrative of Holy Scripture intersects with your own movement today. It may be you’re in a good place, settled with your faith, confident with your relationship with God, collected in the midst of a sea of calm. Some of you are in that place: give thanks and draw strength from this time. 

All kinds of storms come our way.  Family can sometimes blow through our lives like an unruly storm. Sometimes we feel adrift and in a boat all alone. At work the winds can pick up now and then and we feel under attack. In relationships, the seas are not always calm. Even our church seems sometimes to be moving into deep waters, feeling alone in our particular boat while other churches seem to prefer the safety of the land, or the assurance of charted waters. But our faith allows us to be like those first disciples: to hang on to each other for the ride, to stay close to God our savior, and to look ahead without fear. 

W.H. Auden names well the landscape of our lives. Of Christ our travel guide, he writes


He is the Way.
Follow him through the Land of Unlikeness;
you will see rare beasts and have unique adventures.

He is the Truth.
Seek him in the Kingdom of Anxiety;
you will come to a great city that has expected your return for years.

He is the Life.
Love him in the World of the Flesh:
and at your marriage all its occasions shall dance for joy.

                     W. H. Auden For the Time Being (a Christmas Oratorio)

We don’t always pack the way we should.  We’ll forget things here and there.  The weather may change on us. As Anne Lamott has written, “The road to enlightenment is long and difficult, and you should try not to forget snacks and magazines.” (Traveling Mercies).

We have the little things that sustain, but even more, we have God our Savior surrounding us, leading us, pushing us, holding us, carrying us, loving us always and forever. 

May we look out for each other along the way. May we enjoy the scenery and be strong and faithful travelers.

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

About John F. Beddingfield

Rector of The Church of the Holy Trinity (Episcopal) in New York City on East 88th Street between 1st Ave and 2nd Ave.
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