This past Sunday at my church the gospel reading was Mathew 14 and the story of Peter’s faith not being strong enough to complete his walk to Jesus on the water.
How many of us have faith so deep and so strong that we feel our faith would provide us with the strength needed to complete the journey? I was on Lake Michigan a few weeks ago fishing with my brother and a friend and the waves were crashing over the breakwater before we left the marina. The swells were sometimes more than 6’ feet and you couldn’t stand up in the boat without holding onto something.
We must have had some type of blind faith because no one wore a life preserver the whole 5 hours we rocked back and forth in the whitecaps 5 miles from shore. People on the shore radios kept asking what kind of fools would go out on a day like that.
Do I think my faith is stronger than that of Peter? No. I have often said that I think blind faith is weak faith. My faith is my decision based on what I have learned and experienced through my life and the ideals of how I want to live my life because of what my faith, and the church brings to me. The word ideal is intentional, I strive to live my ideal life.
When I called my parents this past Monday, my mom told me that her and dad had gone to church for the first time in about 2 years this past Sunday. They are elderly and have had health issues that prevented them from attending. Mom was so happy that she was able to attend church again and she talked about how she didn’t realize just how much she missed attending in-person until she went again.
One of the things Ben Carlson, the Program Director at Camp Shalom does after summer camp is over, is hold online Bible studies for staff members who want to continue to strengthen their faith outside of camp. Ben provides them with an opportunity to grow their faith with people they consider their community.
Every choice we make influences our own life and the life of others. I attend church because I want to. I derive joy from being in church and sharing the community a person can find inside the walls of the church. My mom didn’t miss the music, the speaker system, or the comfortable seating, she missed the community of faith-filled people.
Campers love worship at Camp Shalom because it’s a community event. They are with friends, and they make the worship their own. There are times at the park in Maquoketa or at The Caves when people will stop and listen and sometimes join our campers and staff in worship. I’ve witnessed the respect people show for our campers and staff by being quiet when they pass by in The Caves while they worship.
Most people enjoy celebrating special days and events with others. We feel sorry for those who have no one to share those times with or choose to be alone. How wonder how there can be any joy in solitude. Our faith is no different, the joy comes in sharing it with others. The faith is strengthened by the community we share it with.
I encourage you to look at the Our Father prayer as a prayer of community. The words our, us and we are used, not the word I. Look around at those in church with you while you say that prayer, and be thankful for the joy and strength you bring each other.