Reflections on faith, boats, mountains and community
A life of faith is designed to be lived with others and not solely as a solitary pursuit. Faith requires the gift of community in order to translate ancient wisdom into our contemporary lives. Faith needs to be lived and grown and nurtured. This happens when we meet with others in whatever way is possible.
As well as regular chapel services for students, members of staff have the opportunity to pray together each week. This is part of the rhythm of Radford College as a learning community within a faith tradition. In terms of the broader community, Chaplain Andy and I can receive prayer requests any time and will honour confidentiality.
Community at Radford is also formed and enhanced through interactions in the classroom and playground, sport, service-learning and wonderful creative opportunities such as the Year 12 Revue and Dirrum Festival.
This year has highlighted our interdependence. Recent commentary has included the workloads of those in public life who are putting in huge hours to fulfil their roles at this time. Behind the scenes, many are also working hard in all the spheres of life to adapt and respond to the needs of those around them.
In his ministry as a healer, teacher and prophet, Jesus was often followed by large crowds. He would offer healing, food and teaching to the crowds, as well as to individuals and his inner circle of friends. Jesus would then withdraw and spend time alone in prayer. This week’s Bible reading from Matthew 14:22-33 includes the detail that Jesus went up to a mountain to pray. This “re-charges his batteries” to once again be present to his friends in surprising ways.
While Jesus has been praying, the disciples embarked on a boat ride to their next destination. A storm came up, and their boat was being battered by the waves. Jesus walks on the water towards them and they do not recognise him. Jesus reveals himself, and Peter ventures onto the water towards Jesus. Peter then experiences doubt and loses his balance. He cries out to Jesus and Jesus immediately reaches out a hand to steady him as the waves die down.
This Gospel passage reminds us that rest and restoration are vital as we care for ourselves and those around us, both near and far. It is also a reminder that God is with us, as a steady source of peace and calm within the storm.
The image of the boat in a storm is a powerful one. I received an email from a friend in the Philippines this week who described some of the situations she and her family were dealing with at the moment. She works in the area of community development and has been supporting others. Her comment to me was that “we are all in the same storm, but we are not all in the same boat.” In short, some boats are more robust than others. There are discrepancies in our ability to respond to the circumstances of life.
Dirrum Festival aims to open our eyes and ears to the stories of others. Hope to “see” you all at Dirrum Festival this Friday and Saturday (either in person for a limited number or online). The Year 12 team have done a great job at adapting to whatever has come their way and a great program is on offer.