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GalileeHallo again to all.

Our frontpage letter has been a place of lament many times since the beginning of Anglicans Online. We have reflected on the loss of family, friends, pets, buildings, cultures, naïvetés. We have tried to bring Christian sense to global events like the Boston Marathon Bombing, the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting, the November 2015 Paris Attacks, the 2017 US refugee ban, this spring's attack at London Bridge.

The current news cycle—and our active consumption of it—being what it is, it is impossible to write today about anything but Pyongyang and Washington, anything but the election in Kenya, anything but racist-nationalist violence in Charlottesville, anything but Venezuela's turmoil, anything but the deliberate drowning of asylum seekers off the coast of Yemen, anything but the Gorakhpur hospital tragedy.

Against this background of woe, we do not envy our friends called to the ministry of preaching this morning. Each emergent occasion seems to ask for its own words of balm or peace, moderation or caution, sorrow or condemnation. Had our voice a distinct influencing power on any of these matters, it would be hard to know where to begin. But we have the Gospel.

Today's pericope from Matthew shows us a group of terrified disciples: in a boat battered by waves, far from the land, with the wind against them. John the Baptist has just been beheaded. The little band are journeying in flight from Herod the Tetrarch without adequate provisions, subsisting on miracles like the multiplication of loaves to sustain themselves and the crowds following them. Jesus leaves the disciples alone in the midst of this anxiety; they are so filled with fear that they mistake him for a ghost when he comes to them across the water.

It feels simplistic to offer this vision of fearful disciples in positions of vulnerability beyond their control as a corollary to the events of the day, and yet we do. It is the Lord's words to Peter in this passage that offer a way forward through what will almost certainly be a near future of difficult developments on all the fronts above.

Jesus tells Peter to walk toward him across an impossibility—across the water—and he gives his friend the strength to do this when he doubts himself.

There is a call here in each of our lives, direct and simple, and specific to every one of us. No person writing or reading Anglicans Online will have an opportunity to speak the words of the gospel of peace to those who threaten disaster on the Korean Peninsula, and we cannot undo the demonstrations of hatred on display this weekend in Virginia any more than we can save the innocents who died in the Gulf of Aden.

But we can each in our trivial round and common task walk toward Jesus in the ways for which we have been given opportunities. For some of us, this may be marching to give our feet and shoes over to gospel priorities. For others, this may be honouring a new neighbour of a different religion or ethnic background with an invitation to tea. For still others, our walking toward Jesus may be strengthening the little flock who still follow him whatever the waves and wind. For all of us, there is the simple duty to condemn as Christians what Pope Pius XI in 1937 called 'the myth of race and blood' in whatever spheres we speak, teach, write, or work.

Jesus speaks to us across the water with the words of the angels today, against reason and against our inclination: 'be not afraid.' The task is to put one foot in front of the other in faith, and for this we do have strength.

See you next week.

Our Signatures

Richard Mammana


All of us at Anglicans Online

13 August 2017

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