Worship for Sunday 13th August 2023, by Rev. Ken Stokes

Call to worship:

Let us come together to hear what God, the Lord, will speak,

for he will speak peace to his people,

to his faithful,

to those who turn to him in their hearts.


Hymn: Singing the Faith 481

  1. The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want;
    He makes me lie in pastures green.
    He leads me by the still, still waters,
    His goodness restores my soul.

  2. And I will trust in You alone,
    And I will trust in You alone,
    For Your endless mercy follows me,
    Your goodness will lead me home.

  3. He guides my ways in righteousness,
    And He anoints my head with oil,
    And my cup, it overflows with joy,
    I feast on His pure delights.

  4. And though I walk the darkest path,
    I will not fear the evil one,
    For You are with me, and Your rod and staff
    Are the comfort I need to know.

Stuart Townend Copyright © 1996 Thankyou Music (Adm. by CapitolCMGPublishing.com excl. UK & Europe, adm. by Integrity Music, part of the David C Cook family, songs@integritymusic.com)

Prayer of Praise

God of everything and everywhere,
we find you by the lakeside,
we hear you in hidden places,
we meet you when the wind and waves threaten to overwhelm us.
May we feel your presence with us as we worship today. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

Gentle God,
speak to us in the sound of silence;
speak to us through the voices of the past;
speak to us in the babble of conversation;
speak to us with words from Scripture;
speak to us from the experience of faith;
speak to us, for we are listening for your Word. 

When we look for you in your magnificence,
and fail to see you standing next to us:

Forgive us and help us.
When we drown your voice in noise and busyness,
and forget to still ourselves to listen to you:

Forgive us and help us.
When we look for you in good and holy people,
but fail to see you in those who make us uncomfortable:

Forgive us and help us.
For you are a kind and gentle God,
who seeks us out to bring us home. 
Forgive us and help us.

Reading:    Matthew 14:22-33

22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. 25 And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

28 Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he noticed the strong wind] he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”


  1. Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
    forgive our foolish ways:
    reclothe us in our rightful mind;
    in purer lives thy service find,
    in deeper reverence praise.
  2. In simple trust like theirs who heard,
    beside the Syrian sea,
    the gracious calling of the Lord
    let us, like them, without a word:
    ‘Rise up and follow me.
  3. O sabbath rest by Galilee!
    O calm of hills above,
    when Jesus shared on bended knee
    the silence of eternity
    interpreted by love.
  4. With that deep hush subduing all
    our words and works that drown
    the tender whisper of your call,
    as noiseless let thy blessing fall
    as fell your manna down.

  5. Drop your still dews of quietness,
    till all our strivings cease;
    take from our souls the strain and stress,
    and let our ordered lives confess
    the beauty of thy peace.

  6. Breathe through the heats of our desire
    thy coolness and thy balm;
    let sense be dumb, let flesh retire,
    speak through the earthquake, wind and fire,
    O still small voice of calm!


Matthew was writing for an audience of early Christians who seem to have been in crisis and who wouldn’t have had any problem at all identifying with the disciples tossed by the waves. But Matthew makes it clear that they should not give way to despair, for Christ will come to them. They are to be like Peter, taking the risk of daring to move out towards him, showing courage and hope in their distress. To recognise your need of faith is a big step towards knowing that need can be met. And their proper response to Christ is worship him as Peter does when he says, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’

To put it simply this is a story that associates faith and risk taking in a powerful way.

The walking on the water is a miracle story that defies rational explanation or scientific analysis. Some Christians find it easy to believe others struggle to accept but either way I would argue that assuming Jesus wasn’t simply looking to get his disciples to practice walking across the nearest boating lake I think we can be sure that this story is important for its symbolic significance.

I don’t know of any Church that suggest that we can repeat this particular miracle…so I think we have to look at what this miracle symbolises.

In other words, it is a story that is meant to encourage us in other forms of risk taking

But what sort of risks does Jesus want us to take?

In the gospel story Peter could have simply stayed put in the boat.

To most Jews the very idea of a stormy sea was terrifying. In the bible – such a storm echoes the idea of the formless waters of chaos with is spoken about in the book of Genesis and the Psalms. Most Jews weren’t good sailors and even those that made their living on the water – fishermen like Peter probably could not swim. If you fell in that was that.

But you can’t find out what it means to follow Jesus if you stay in the boat. You can only learn by stepping out into the unknown.

We are told that Peter first steps were not steps of triumph – he started to sink.

On his own he would have been done for. But he is not on his own and neither are we. God is with us. Jesus is close at hand. We don’t need to be afraid.

You see our faith is fundamentally all about risk taking

Faith means doing stuff without certainty

Faith means loving people who may be ungrateful

Faith means forgiving people who may well let us down again and again

In the story when Jesus talks to disciples Matthew has Jesus using a memorable little expression. ‘You of little faith’. It comes four times and the only time it occurs anywhere else is once in Luke. It tends to occur in passages where the disciples are failing but Matthew though critical wants to give hope: it is not that the disciples are without faith, only they could certainly do with more. So here is some encouragement for us because this is often where we are. Lord, we only have little faith grant us more. It is a challenge to live in the way of Jesus because loving is an inherently risky thing to do because it makes you vulnerable.

In the Church we must beware the temptation to only do those things where we know the likely outcome before we start and that look safe The Church cannot claim to have faith and only love or welcome people who we think of as being safe bets.

Jesus took all sorts of risks in loving people, and he took them again and again and again and he kept taking them even though it led him to the cross. He did it because he had faith in his heavenly Father.  A faith that despite every appearance to the opposite, love would triumph.

Jesus simply promises us that if we take risks for him, we will not be alone, he will be with us – always reaching out to us to prevent us from sinking beneath the waves.

Time of reflection

  1. Have you experienced times when you have felt out of your depth?
  2. Where was God in those times?
  3. Do you have faith that God will be with you in the future no matter what that future may bring?

Song: Praise you in this storm sung by Casting Crowns

I was sure by now
God, You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say, “Amen” and it’s still raining

Well, as the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
And as Your mercy falls
I’ll raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away


And I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to You
And raised me up again
But my strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can’t find You?

But as the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
And as Your mercy falls
I’ll raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away


I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The maker of Heaven and Earth

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The maker of Heaven and Earth

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?


And though my heart is torn (though my heart is torn)
I’ll praise You in this storm (praise You in this storm)

Songwriters: Bernie Herms, John Mark Hall. For non-commercial use only.

Prayers of intercession:

We pray for those who find themselves tossed about by all that life throws at them, those who feel out of control and don’t know which way to turn…

Lord hear our prayer.

We pray for those who find themselves with an unexpected challenge, those who have much asked of them and feel overwhelmed…

Lord hear our prayer.

We pray for those who find themselves overtaken by events, those who feel dejected and at a loss…

Lord hear our prayer.

We pray for those who find themselves on the wrong side of popularity, those who feel they have more enemies than friends…

Lord hear our prayer.

We pray for those who find themselves searching for what they do not know, those who feel that there must be more to life…

Lord hear our prayer

We pray for confused disciples and perplexed prophets, those who strive to be faithful and serve you, only to be surprised by grace…

Lord hear our prayer

The Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your Name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those
who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours,
now and for ever. Amen.

Hymn: Singing the Faith 250

  1. Jesus calls us! O’er tumult
    of our life’s wild restless sea,
    day by day his voice is sounding,
    saying ‘Christian, follow me.’
  2. As of old apostles heard it
    by the Galilean lake,
    turned from home, and toil and kindred,
    leaving all for his dear sake.

  3. Jesus calls us from the worship
    of the vain world’s golden store,
    from each idol that would keep us,
    saying: ‘Christian, love me more.’

  4. In our joys and in our sorrows, days of toil and hours of ease,
    still he calls, in cares and pleasures:
    ‘Christian, love me more than these.’

  5. Jesus calls us! By your mercies,
    Saviour, may we hear your call,
    give our hearts to your obedience,
    serve and love you best of all

Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1895)


Peter only knew life as a fisherman.
But he got out of the boat and followed you, Lord.
Help us to hear your voice,
get out of our boats and follow you.
Keep us focused on your way,
looking ahead and trusting you.

May the blessing of God,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

Be with us now and always.