From Reverend Pat Kriss: Facing the Giant
(Posted June 21, 2018)
This Sunday will be a special one – we will be witnesses to the baptism of three of our young girls — Gabriella Bierce, Brianna Monroy, and Gianna Monroy. They are excited, and so are we!
Not only is this a special Baptism Sunday, it’s the last Jazz Sunday before the summer break. It’s also a Sunday where we will be reading about situations and feelings that many of us might find familiar in our current lives. In the Hebrew Bible, we will be reading about how a small boy squares off against a mountain of a man: David versus Goliath. And in the Gospel, Jesus’ innocent disciples must square off against mountainous waves crashing against their small boat as their Savior seems to sleep through it all.
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When pitted against a giant ...
What these stories and present day life share in common is the feeling we have when we find our own seemingly insignificant selves pitted against giants, whether the literal kind, or the massive, faceless powers and principalities who seem to change up the rules that we find ourselves having to follow. How can we, small by comparison to those powers, make a difference? Like the storm-tossed apostles, we understand what it’s like to feel fear. Were the disciples afraid? OF COURSE they were! And rightfully so. We live in a time of anxiety, and like the disciples, perhaps we sometimes wonder if Jesus is going to wake up and keep the dark forces at bay. They cry out, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, 'Peace! Be still!' Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, 'Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?'" It’s clear that Jesus could ask the same of us. “Have you still no faith?”
But if we learn anything from the story of little David the Shepherd and eight foot tall Goliath, it’s that standing up to what seems like impossible odds often requires us to develop a unique approach to the challenge, one that does not assume the same tactics as what seems to be obvious. Goliath was expecting a one-on-one battle with a foe similar to himself. He had a giant’s shield and sword. Little did he expect a tiny boy with a slingshot and a single rock who could see the one weak spot in the giant.
Doing church differently
That’s a pretty good metaphor for so many things churches face today. In an era of declining church attendance and so much that invades traditional Sunday mornings, the answer lies not in “doing church” in the way churches have always done, but in doing church differently. Unexpectedly. Over the next week ahead, I will be sharing with you a new program to bring church to the people, to offer spirituality where those who have their doubts about religion are free to express their feelings and to learn new things about that ultimate gift, FAITH. See you Sunday, as we explore the Living Waters of Baptism, and the churning waters of the Storm that Jesus calls into peace. -- Pastor Pat Kriss