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10 Pentecost - Matthew 14:22-33

Have you ever taken a vacation to LAX?

There is so much to see, so many interesting fashion choices and visual displays.

It has restaurants, shops, bars, and accessible bathrooms.

You can look out the windows at the airplanes or inside at so many fascinating people, or

you can step away from the crowds and enjoy an expensive massage.

You can find places to stretch out and sleep when you get tired, and of course there are so many different terminals to explore.

Or have you bypassed all this to settle for boarding a plane and going somewhere else?

Church consultant Reggie McNeal is fond of reminding church leaders that the church campus is an airport.

It is not the destination, so please stop using the phrase "go to church."

Why would people do that?

Church is a movement helping people get to the real destination, which is life.

Our facility should have good services and clean bathrooms, but we should not expect

people to organize their experience around it.

We are at our best when people stay for an hour, make the right connection, get replenished with whatever they need for their journey, and make progress getting where they are supposed to go.

It's amazing how quickly church members can forget this and get offended that we're not more important to people, like an airport manager complaining that no one ever sticks around to enjoy the art.

We've wasted so much breath debating whether or not to open campuses while travel is unsafe, as if shuttered sanctuary doors mean life is canceled and God is closed.

Since you can't be here in terminal one to see for yourself this morning, I'll remind you that our building, like so many others in God's church across the centuries, is designed to look

like a boat.

From the earliest days, the church has fancied itself Noah's ark or the boat in which the disciples set sail with Jesus.

It is a vehicle, not a destination—even if we do have a tendency to build houseboats and yachts and luxury liners, because bigger feels better.

Church is meant to move, not remain anchored in one spot.

One of the gifts of this pandemic is to force us to step out of our perpetually docked boat because at this point in the story, Jesus has left the building and is out in the storm.

Disciples are supposed to follow Jesus.

It's a message that Matthew constantly repeats in multiple ways, including storm stories.

This is the second time the disciples and Jesus are caught in a squall on the sea.

The first time, Jesus was in the boat, asleep, when the earthquake hit.

Yes, earthquake: the first of three in Matthew's gospel.

The other two happened on Good Friday and Easter morning, meaning that the first storm

on the lake was a foreshadowing of the storm that Jesus would go through in Jerusalem

while his disciples fell asleep on him.

This second storm, then, is a story foreshadowing what those who follow Jesus will go through in the days to come—and it's not the cruise industry church councils imagine or expect.

They will be in the boat without him.

They will be battered by the waves and far from where they want to be.

The wind will be against them.

They will not recognize Jesus when he does come to them from the other side of death, like a ghost.

Their impetuous leader, the man Jesus named Rock, swims like one.

The church's leadership will be one step faith, one step hesitation as it takes its eyes off

Jesus and pays more attention to the noisy winds that have more urgency but less power.

What kind of music should we sing?

Should we worship in person or on line?

What are the bigger boats doing?

Which way is the political wind blowing?