Thought for the Day by Tim Ward (St Chad’s)
“…They sound like the roaring sea…”:
is how Jeremiah describes the horses ridden from the north to battle against an errant Jerusalem. [Jeremiah chapter 6 verse 23].
“…a strong wind was blowing and stirring up the water…”
… is John’s description the threat of the sea. following the wonder of Jesus’s feeding of the crowds, the disciples had taken to the water and rowed out into the midst of the Sea of Galilee heading for Capernaum. [John chapter 6 verses 19 and 20]
To coastal and lakeside communities, water shaped livelihoods and landscapes. Its power signified an actual and symbolic threat. In response, the psalmist in psalms 65 and 77 points to a God who can overcome the power of the waves
“You calm the roar of the seas and the noise of the waves”
“When the waters saw you O God, they were afraid….
You walked through the waves you crossed the deep sea.”
In this context John describes the “sign” of Jesus walking on the water:
“By then a strong wind was blowing and stirring up the water. The disciples had rowed about five or six kilometres when they saw Jesus walking on the water, coming near the boat…”
The description of Jesus walking on the water shows it as a sign not a magic show. Jesus’s healing miracles were a sign of god’s concern and priorities; not belittling, but rather supporting those involved in healing. Likewise, Jesus was not making light of the challenges faced by those who work on the water; those with whom he spent his time and made his friendships. The wonders and signs of eternity did not take away from the reality of the here and now.
Leeds’s connection with water has changed over the periods of industrialisation and growth. One symbol of this continues to be the Leeds Liverpool canal, linking not only the northern industrial communities, such as Saltaire. but also, the east and west coasts. The Canal and River Trust help to ensure we can enjoy its 127 miles and 91 locks today.
The canal towpath is a good place for Lent, allowing contemplation of water, nature, of industrial skill and endeavour. Its heritage is also one of labour, of the mills, factories and mines whose produce it carried
As we wonder at the miracle of Jesus walking on the water, may we focus too on the dangers and toils inherent in a life on the water.
Click here to visit the Canal and River Trust