A Farewell Reflection from Rev. Linda Roby…
May 15, 2017
By Rev. Linda Roby
Each day I drive by White Rock Lake on the way to and from the church. In their own way, the sun reflecting on the still glassy morning water, the wind blowing through the sails of small sailboats, and the waves of a brewing storm often remind of the story of Peter getting out of the boat to walk to Jesus. He tells Peter not to be afraid, to have courage, and to step out of the boat.
There is always a question in ministry about how much is enough. In the book of Matthew, the call to discipleship is one of selfless service – curing the sick, feeding the hungry, helping the blind to see, and proclaiming the kingdom of heaven. And here in Matthew 14, Jesus is inviting more from Peter – to do as Jesus did – to walk on water.
There is a lot to process in this story as I reflect on my cherished time at FirstChurch. Once Peter begins to walk out, he looks down – and starts to sink. The word used is ‘distazo’ and traditionally is translated ‘to doubt”. Maybe Peter got scared or felt it was too dangerous. Maybe trying to be like Jesus was just too hard. Or maybe it was a moment of hesitation. How often do we hesitate or procrastinate, hold back and stay in our comfort zone?
In ancient religious writings, a boat often represents the church – a safe place in the midst of the chaos of the world around us. And so, here in Matthew, Jesus seems to be encouraging Peter to get out of the boat, and to join him in the deep water. Jesus is telling Peter as he steps out that he believes in him and that safety is in Jesus, not in the boat.
FirstChurch has been an amazing place to serve. Your encouragement and service is inspiring and will be a gift I will always cherish. We have done so much together – locally and around the world. Just as I felt called out of my comfortable place to come to FirstChurch almost eight years ago, I feel called out of this boat and into a new place now. In twenty years of ministry, I’ve learned to recognize when I feel drawn out of the boat. It is time for me find new ways to serve – to bring the good news to those who live in a bad news world, to bind up the broken, comfort those to whom love is a stranger, and to care for the homeless, the orphaned and the widowed.
It is a good time for us to pray for each other – prayers to continue on paths that God has shown us – at FirstChurch and beyond. Prayers for courage, for peace-filled hearts, and for prosperous spirits whose cups run over.
It has been a privilege to walk into neighborhoods near and far, and I’m always amazed by the different ways God is already present and at work in these places. People all over the world are getting out of their boats and testing the water. I look forward to being on that journey, and always returning home.
I give thanks to God for each of you, for the ways you serve, just as Jesus did. May God guide your future steps.