Fr. Tinh’s Homily from August 13

Proper 14 — Year A –

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church — August 13, 2017

Text:  Matthew 14:22-33.  ”

Title: Jesus walks on the Sea.”

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In the Name of God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.I have a great nephew who lives with his parents and sister in Toronto, Canada. His name is Aidan. Aidan is 9 years old, and he has Asperger’s. He knows every turn of the roads to his grandma’s home, and he notices it right away if his mom takes a different route. He has a keen mind, and if there is something that catches his attention, he keeps talking about it. A couple of months ago, when summer came, the parents removed the cover of the swimming pool behind the house. Aidan, of course, was there to see what was going on. Suddenly, he said, “Mom!”- What?- Look!  Look at the bugs. They believe in God! They can walk on water! The insects can even run on the water! They believe in God!

 

Today, in our first lesson, we heard the Elijah story. Elijah believed in God and worshiped God. He was among the very few God’s worshipers while most of the Israelites had turned to Baal.  Elijah spoke against those who worship the false god. King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, and the prophets of Baal  were against him. Elijah prayed, and rain stopped coming for three years. Then, at an event where Elijah gained the political upper hand, he killed 400 Baal prophets. But right after that, Elijah ran for his life. Queen Jezebel was after him. He then forgot all about God. He was distracted. He forgot all about what God had done for him. He forgot that he was a believer. In today’s story, we heard that God came to Elijah, and God asked him, “Elijah, what are you doing here?” God had never forgotten Elijah.

 

KimAnh and I were in Vietnam in 1975, when the communists were about to take over the capital.  Every 15 minutes, U.S. military planes took off from Saigon, carrying people out of the country. We all were in a panic.  My wife was expecting our daughter.  We had no idea how we could flee.  On that evening, at 8 PM, a person came knocking at our door  and said that someone was waiting for us at the gate of the community.  We were living in a housing project for families of soldiers.  It was a Vietnamese guard on duty who knocked at our door.  The person who waited for us at the gate was my brother in-law.  He came in a police jeep. There were a Vietnamese policeman  and an American wearing a badge.

Our names were on the manifest, and they were ready to take us to the airport.  No one could explain why my brother in law and my sister could get into the US compound at the Saigon airport. They had seven children, ages between 21 and 9.None of our family married an American. None of us worked for the Americans. Those were criteria for those wishing to leave the country to enter the airport and get on the planes. There were thousands of people at the check point. My brother in-law and four of the kids got through the check point simply with a letter written in English by an American missionary. The letter certified that he was a Christian. The Vietnamese guard let them pass by. Hours after that, my sister and the rest of the kids came to the same check point. She had been home waiting for her oldest son. He was a soldier and was about 20 miles away. His company was finally disbanded, and he came home, and they all went to the airport

 

While standing with the crowds at the check point, she waved at the driver of an empty bus that slowly approached them. The driver of the bus and she did not know each other. But the bus stopped for her. “Quick!” said driver. “Get to the back, and get under the seats!” They went through a couple of check points. The American guard at each stop got on the bus and stood near the driver. He looked toward the back and then got off the bus to let it go by.

 

We left Vietnam on a US military airplane. After a 5-hour flight we landed on Guam.

All we had with us were our ID’s, family pictures, some clothing, and five US dollars in my pocket.  How peaceful it felt at the U.S. air base! How good it was to be free!  And the chicken noodle soup that they fed us on that day tasted so good!

 

The event was 42 years ago. Was it just luck?   It sounds impossible, but it happened. I must admit that oftentimes I completely forgot about it. I forgot that I did walk on water!

 

In the minds of ancient biblical people, the sea, or water, is the place of evil.  In the sea, river, or flash flood, there is the threat to human life.When there was a storm in the sea, they said it’s the battle between God and the evil spirits. The disciples in the Matthew story were also fearful because they were in the water. They feared evil. Jesus can walk on water. Jesus is divine. Jesus has an upper hand over evil. “Take heart, it is I.” The I AM is coming for you –God is here with you.”Do not be afraid” When they were hopeless, Jesus came to them.  “I AM” is the name of Yahweh the Creator.”Take heart, it is I!” In Matthew there is the message to believers: “Do not be afraid.” God’s eye is on you, and God never forgets you. Psalm 85, which we read today, says, “Truly, his salvation is very near to those who fear him.”

 

I am sure that you, too, have your own stories to tell: a difficult child birth?- a major surgery?- a return from battle? – a safe journey home? We all are like the disciples of Jesus in the sea at night. We are to count our blessings, always! Do not let the things of this world distract us. The sequence hymn that we sang today reads,”… and everywhere that I could be, thou, God, art present there.” There were moments in our lives  that we did walk on water.  Believers,let’s keep believing in God, and let us hold on to our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

In the Name of God:  the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.Amen.

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