I love stories about the battle of good and evil. It is so wonderful how they develop. How the smallest, the ones who deny the lure of power, the ones who rely on the thinnest of promises are the ones who ultimately triumph in the end. I always tell my children that the best ending of Harry Potter is when he tosses the elder wand over the cliff. No more story after that would be perfect. He throws away the last attraction of power, which Lord Voldemort becomes enamoured with.
Today's story of Peter trying to walk on water is just that kind of a story. Peter gets distracted by the powers of nature, thinking that even though Jesus stands before him he will somehow fall beneath the waves. This is not the first time Matthew's gospel gives us this sort of story. Early Jesus is in the boat with the disciples and he is sleeping. He is awakened when they are terrified and calms the storm. In this story Jesus sends the disciples out on their own. Jesus hangs back to pray, the storm comes and Jesus walks to the disciples where Peter then asks if he can join him.
This story is for the benefit of the Matthean community. There was a time when Jesus was there on earth and now it is a time when Jesus is not right here with us. Even in the storms of persecution, being kicked out of the synagogue, not together as a community but separated from it. They weathered a storm. Have faith.
Today we see all types of warnings about the decline of the church. About how we are not the mainstream faith and we have those who call for return to our roots to go back to a past that no longer exists. We fight the storm and slip beneath the waves believing in the power of numbers and being the dominate and not the minority faith. Yet we can learn so much about God, about Jesus, about our place in the world if we surrender to the storm and believe that Christ is standing right in front of us waiting for our hand. Can we dare to step out of the boat and live on faith?