It’s Jesus’ job to walk on water – Matthew 14:22-33

Don't try walking on this water! Looking from Hartland Quay to Lundy Island (a recent holiday snap.)
Don’t try walking on this water! Looking from Hartland Quay to Lundy Island (a recent holiday snap.)

In our Gospel this morning, Jesus takes possibly the shortest retreat or holiday on record. If we assume he dismisses the now well-fed five thousand and his chastened disciples sometime before the speedy fall of a mediterranean dusk, and walks out on a turbulent sea to find their boat at dawn, it was approximately 12 hours. Enough time to shake off the clammer of the crowd, to feed his inner introvert, to rest his body and mind, to talk quietly with his Father. After all, the writing was on the wall, he was going to be ministering to massive crowds for the foreseeable future, people demanding he pour out his healing presence and his wisdom, whilst the authorities find an excuse to silence him permanently.

For anyone feeling overwhelmed by people’s expectations of them, the demands of work or family, or anticipating a long period of either or both, cutting yourself off for a few hours, or days, without means of getting back to family, friends or colleagues is not just a good thing, it is a vital necessity. It rejuvenates and energises and sometimes expands our future capabilities, or perhaps more often, makes us more realistic about what those capabilities are. But I’ve talked about that before!

What about the disciples in this story? The disciples have been pushed off in a boat onto choppy seas, to fend for themselves – something they are far more capable of coping with, especially given the number of fishermen on board, than they are the sight of Jesus walking towards them through the dawn light. Their fear and superstitions take over. Dawn light can play tricks on the eyes and they had perhaps been awake for a considerable part of the night maintaining the boats progress or at least stability, in a head-wind. We shouldn’t be surprised at the exclamations of horror at the ghostly apparition walking toward them.

Peter did not have twelve hours of retreat, rest and restorative prayer behind him when he impulsively got out of the boat to see if he could emulate his teacher. As a fisherman and natural leader, in the boat with his colleagues he’d probably been playing to his strengths, using his God-given well-honed skills to keep them all afloat. But many fishermen are not confident swimmers, and the ability to walk on water is not a known attribute of any human, so when the reality of the situation he’s just walked into, or onto, really kicks in, no amount of divine guidance and support from his Master can over-ride an overwhelming sinking feeling. Peter had only got out of the boat having checked that Jesus would be there for him, though he was after-all just a little bit of a show off, the first to try and show he’d understood what Jesus was trying to tell them!

When Jesus accuses Peter of having little faith, there could in fact be a couple of teaching points. Many of us know the most obvious; Peter had only stepped out of the boat with Jesus’ encouragement. He and we need to realise that when we metaphorically do this, we need to keep our focus very firmly fixed on Jesus, if we dare to go it alone when a storm surrounds us. But it may be that he’s only supporting us in this so that we don’t drown, and are therefore both still alive and better equipped in the future to focus on what it is we are actually called to attempt and achieve in our lives.

Sometimes, we have to admit we were wrong to attempt something that was outside our skill set, grasp firmly on Jesus’ forgiving hand, watch our pride sink, and with him, get back in the boat. Jesus will always be there for us in these moments, making sure we aren’t lost to the wind and waves, but as we return to the boat, dripping and repenting our rash actions, the important thing is that we are aware of God’s presence now on board, just as he always intended it should be. Our God-given skills, combined with his presence in the one that has been sent to us, Jesus Christ our Lord, is what makes for a much calmer journey to the place where his ministry must take centre-stage, not our desire to copy him. Faith may involve seeing the boat for what it is; a shared experience with the opportunity to work collaboratively, waiting for the person God has sent to join the team and lead us into calmer waters.

It is Jesus’ job to walk on water, not ours. Jesus is the Son of God, divinely equipped to feed, to heal, to calm troubled waters, to rescue us when we get ourselves into deep water. We aren’t. We, like Peter have been called to be faithful disciples using our God-given skills, and when equipped by the presence of God through the Holy Spirit (as Peter would be with the rest of the disciples at Pentecost) to undertake difficult tasks, take risks and put ourselves in the way of tricky situations, so that the grace, love and forgiveness offered in and through Jesus, can be brought to people’s attention.

Our job as Jesus’ disciples, is to reach out and place our hand firmly in Jesus’ grasp. In doing so, not only will we have the safety and security of his presence with us, both individually and as a fellowship of Christians, but we will then also discover where he needs us to go, which shore we are called to land on, so that both his divinity and his humanity can be proclaimed in his love for all those who aren’t currently in the boat with us.


Crawshaw built Solo for sale – PRICE REDUCED

Sail Number: 4134P1090803w

Wooden, Crawshaw built
Fast boat
Proctor mast
2 sails including Solo B
Trolley, but no road trailer
New wheels fitted
Cover sound but faded


Ashore at Hawley Lake STC
Not sailed past season
Rear side deck varnish needs attention

won 2011 HLSTC Youth Regatta

Owner now gone to university


Please comment on this blog post to express your interest; blog owner will reply by email.

Why I’ve lied to my son for weeks!

Maiden voyage!

It’s a tricky one isn’t it. We are taught as Christians’ not to lie. As ministers, we should set an example, and live with transparent integrity. This is my way of being transparent – I’ve lied to my son for weeks: but how else were we going to give him a really BIG surprise?!

The lad has been sailing, and racing a club Pico for months at HLSTC after completing his RYA Stage 4 and Seamanship this year. But racing the adults, the Pico is tail-end charlie all the while. It’s a bit lonely, and although the handicap system means he’s not always last in the result, he is on the water.

Meanwhile he’s had the chance to sail his Grandad’s Solo at Littleton – he loved it. Then Grandad phoned us – would we let him give the lad his ‘spare’ Solo?! Ever since that evening, there have been hushed conversations and lies. I’ve taken out Family Membership at the club (then lied about it when he’s been trying to get me out on the water as a guest), talked to folk there about a berth (and lied about what I had been doing when out), and more recently tried to shed diary entries that kept cropping up for yesterday afternoon – the date when a lad whose a member at both clubs could move said Solo on his road trailer!

We even discussed with people if his street-cred could take it. Fortunately, he’s not a boy to worry about such things, but the Solo is known as a “grandad boat” as even old men can sail it, and he’s recently had pressure to get a Laser, but we can’t afford to look such a gift horse in the mouth, and the Solo is a great deal more stable apparently, and has a handicap that should give him a real chance of doing well once he’s got used to her.

A very happy lad!

The last week, I’ve had to tell so many people that our son couldn’t meet various options on commitments last night (and tell his Scout leader he’s unlikely to want to kayake tonight), and invent excuses to him as to why he couldn’t do these things. Then he volunteered to help his class tutor at the school Open Evening, and I had to say he couldn’t go before 7pm as I couldn’t get him there – he assumed I was doing baptism prep!

So, please God forgive me, but the surprise, shock, disbelief and eventual joy (how to silence a 13 year old) were worth every minute of it!!!!!!! Thank you Grandad, and to Nanny for being there to share the excitement!

The young man spent last evening, and this morning walking round going “I’ve got a boat” with a joyful, bemused look on his face, and dreaming of what to call this beautiful lady. She comes with an great history, so I’ll blog that at a later date when he’s named her.

So, down the club to sit in the sun whilst he races her for the first time tonight! Must find out the best way to apply a name to a varnished boat!!

Wild flowers and other wildlife wonders

Wild Violets
Wood Sorrell

Been meaning to load these off the phone since Easter week but typically life has been busy. C spent that week sailing and has now passed his Stage 4 and his Seamanship module. G and I worked really hard (marking and sermons) but took these on our daily dog walk.

Last week we brought back more belongings and did lots of unpacking sorting and tidying. However the trips included various wildlife highlights including a pair of Roe Deer, Wood Anemonies and a male Orange Tip butterfly at Bushey Leaze near Beech, Medstead, Alton.

Gs best photo of the Orange Tip

I found a 5.7m girthed Beech tree for Dad at Ances Wood near Cadman’s Pool. He had been asked to check it by the folk at Ancient Tree Hunt. Dad is actually featured in the current free National Park/Forestry Commission ‘paper’ circulating the New Forest – with a staged photo and an article he had to correct heavily to make it bearable!

At Eyeworth Pond, Fritham we found our first Swallows and Martins of the year, plus Mandarin and Wood Duck. There were also Mallard Ducklings fresh off the nest like fluffy whirlygig beetles. Dad and I also watched what may be odd Chaffinch behaviour – they were buzzing the water surface for either Reed Mace seeds or insects, couldn’t tell which.

Since then we’ve seen a Swallow closer to home – just the one at Hawley Lake on Sunday as Chris was sailing.

Male Mandarin Duck at Eyeworth

The battle continues

The battle with the final essay for the FdA at the University is still going I’m afraid. Making a commitment to home re-organationand family meant I missed the pre-Easter deadline for the final essay (for the Uni – it’s on marriage prep) though with last minute permission… I saw my tutor this morning (a saint) and though my first version is ‘good’ it needs to re-organised to fit the Uni requirements more appropriately. I have till 23rd April.

Having taken much time out to get the first version written at the end of March, I now am preaching or leading from here till mid-May I think… no I have one Sunday off before Pentecost. Our vicar is off sick recovering well from an op, so I need to do my share.

G and I have agreed this afternoon that we will prioritise family next week, reclaiming some more boxes and working out where to keep their contents, plus catching up with the parent/aunt types (fortunately we can do both at the same time). Then I shall dedicate 19-21 April to shaking down a final go at the essay, I have Funeral Training is on the 22nd as part of my IME4 then its hand-in…
Then I guess a slow catch-up of the past (things outstanding, many MU), and set-up for the future… (marriage prep w/e in October among other things).
C is just completing a week’s Stage 4 Junior sailing course (with Seamanship skills module) which means he’ll be able to race and sail to his hearts content – though as an under 14 one of us will need to stay shore-based with him when he’s at the club… fortunately the sailing club have power I can run the laptop from…
G is just finishing the most difficult U6th practical marking ever – the scheme devised by the exam board is labyrinthine. He’s talking to himself a lot which tells me he’s really, really tired…
Tuesday G and I were very briefly delighted by the site of a male Sparrowhawk chasing a Blackbird through the willow scrub near the top of Silver Fox lane… and today with the much greater warmth we saw Peacock and Brimstone Butterflies. There is the occasional Skylark singing over the airport heath as well, though frequently on the mid-day dog walk we can’t actually see them, just hear them… the Wood Sorrel is also showing bud today for the first time in the copse, with the strappy Bluebell leaves growing fast, though I guess after the winter we’ve had it will be May before they flower… I wonder if the canopy will be too closed over by then for them to flower well, or if the trees are very late as well…
So that’s about all at present… just a sermon or two for Sunday to find now! I’ve made things difficult for myself again… and I’m focusing on Jesus’ command to forgive (rather than the more usual ‘Thomas’ theme)… more of which later…

Calm before the storm?

Shed foundations - and a gap in the fence
Shed foundations - and a gap in the fence

Well it’s the end of the second week of building work and today has been total calm as the lads have had to attend a funeral today: their old boxing coach has sadly died.

However there’s been plenty of progress through the week: we’ve lost the doorstep, outside cupboard and the roof over the doorstep; the foundations for the shed are dug and concreted, and the first stages of aligning the front wall seemed to happen yesterday, with a dramatic pair of holes into the front of the house, we think to allow air to circulate beneath a raised floor.

I “preached” last Sunday at our Summer Sunday 10am congregation – in the end it was 3 linked talk/activity slots on God’s Promise to David in 2 Samuel 7:1-13 which involved a beach tent and lots of cardboard boxes! We started by talking about the importance and problems of tents; then we talked about a temple, why David thought it was a good idea, and built one round our ”sacred chest” using empty cardboard boxes; lastly we discovered why God wasn’t so keen on the idea and who the ultimate ‘temple’ would be, concluding with using the same boxes to build a large cross. Although I found it really tough to deliver (such ‘think spots’ demand the memory I don’t have and interaction with the kids) it was reasonably well received.

What's left around the front door
What's left around the front door

Since then there has been a bit of a lull in my normally frenetic life. I’ve read at least two girly novels this week, lounged in the bath for at least one morning (with a book), and watched my son sail… a lot! He had a day with Grandad on Tuesday at Littleton SC (where I found a pair of Holly Blue butterflies on some ivy), did race training with A in a Topaz Omega on Wednesday, and we’ve just returned from Hawley Lake where he came 11th out of 13 in his first pursuit race, sailing a Pico (so he beat the other Pico and one other boat). Somehow I ended up keeping tabs on the race placings, holding an instructors dog, and finally got invited to crew sometime soon! Something to be avoided methinks.

Also purchased and “pay and go” 3G dongle from Vodaphone to enable me to blog away from home. Unfortunately it doesn’t work well at Hawley, and I don’t think it will work from Lyndhurst (which appears to be an internet poor village both by cable and otherwise). It does work at church though, and I’m hoping it will work at Swanwick in the autumn!

Female Holly Blue
Female Holly Blue

Now we’ve got a week of family dominated trips out, plus I need to remember I’m leading and preaching at 8am Morning Prayer on 23rd before have a “4 generations lunch” in Bournemouth. That might sound busy, but it shouldn’t be too bad; definitely calmer than normal. After that it will be back to life in the really fast lane, as it’s all downhill to the stormy waves of life at the start of the academic year in a school orientated household, plus I’ve got Mothers’ Union meetings, the last Reader Residential of training, MU conference and … well I guess you know already!

History of a hole

End of Week 1 of the building works and we have footings… though at present I wouldn’t like to stand on them – if I did, I’d end up encased in concrete!

On Wednesday we thought that we had a pretty deep hole in the garage doorway, though by morning the spade at the end of it was a bit buried by landslip after a little rain.

A good spades depth outside the garage on Wednesday
A good spades depth outside the garage on Wednesday

Then yesterday, we had three guys digging like their lives depended on it, and between them they had produced truly awesome holes. 140cm deep apparently as they had to dig to the depth of the existing foundations, and discovered that we had been built very high with the ground level raised around us!

However, we had torrents of rain for hours last night. About 11pm reading in bed, we heard a loud squelching sound followed
by a grating noise! A trip to the doorstep with the torch revealed a large landslip had actually shifted the 8′ ladder left in the hole for them to get in and out. By this morning, more had fallen in, so there was a lot more to dig before the building inspector arrived about 11am.

140cm deep - before the rain it looked good!
140cm deep - before the rain it looked good!
Concrete delivery becomes a spectator sport!

The building inspector was followed by swiftly by a rather big boys toy… the concrete delivery lorry – mixed and instantaneously delivered down a shoot, with C and his friend D sat in the window above watching! So now we are surrounded with a moat of fast drying concrete and a very large pile of subsoil. We’re well pleased with the week, and look forward to next.

We took C down to Hawley Lake tonight and the older lads convinced him to enter the evening race in a Topper – a hilarious affair undertaken with great good will in a flat calm. Out of the eight boats, C had the advantage of his Toppers’ handicap and his junior status – coming third in this his first race!

Birds, blooms and boats

Probably not that exciting, but wanted to note that whilst watching the Chris sail for an hour at Hawley Lake (think M3 J4a) we saw our first Swallow of the year… just the one though.

One of Graham's Bluebell photos
One of Graham's Bluebell photos

(Chris passed his RYA Stage 3 sailing qualification at Easter and we got him youth membership at Hawley Lake – where they have previously film Scrap Heap Challenge because it’s part of Royal Engineers set up.)

Dog walking is producing a regular pair of Stonechats on the back of Blackbushe Airport, but definitely not the numbers of previous years, and still not a sign of Dartfords this year… last one I saw was the dead one I found in the winter. Something was singing today too – I want them to be Skylarks, but I gather they could be Meadow Pippits. I need lots of help with SBJs as they are not my strong point.

The bluebells are lovely all over the place, but I suspect will start to go over in the next week. There are a few in the bank along the lane to the airport, and lots in the copse on the way to Castle Bottom. I don’t think we’ll get this year to the lovely bit on the edge of Finchampstead Ridges that lies between Horseshoe lake and Ambarrow, but having driven past last night it’s one to try when we don’t have such a frantic spring. The Gorse has been in full bloom for ages, and the scent is heady, but some is now beginnning to go over, whilst the Hawthorne is in full bloom.

God blessing us with birds and blooms to lift the spirits.