Great Plains Daily Devotional for 8/16/2023: Matthew 8:23-27, Psalm 107:25-32

Today please be in prayer for

Wichita University UMC
Wichita East District
Winfield First UMC
Wichita East District
Winfield First UMC
Wichita East District
Winfield Grace UMC
Wichita East District

Today's Lectionary Text

Matthew 8:23-27

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A windstorm suddenly arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves, but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”

Psalm 107:25-32

For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,
    which lifted up the waves of the sea.
They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths;
    their courage melted away in their calamity;
they reeled and staggered like drunkards
    and were at their wits’ end.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he brought them out from their distress;
he made the storm be still,
    and the waves of the sea were hushed.
Then they were glad because they had quiet,
    and he brought them to their desired haven.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
    for his wonderful works to humankind.
Let them extol him in the congregation of the people
    and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

Today's Devotional

Many of you will recognize the enormous hit song “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” recorded in the late ‘60s by Simon and Garfunkel. I was in high school and at the time I thought "Bridge” was just a love song, but the lyrics were such that Christian groups were able to hear in it a song about Jesus and faith and what great lengths God has gone to in Jesus to love us and lay down his life for us as “a bridge over our troubled waters.” Christian churches and groups even had bumper stickers printed that said "Jesus --Bridge Over Troubled Water.” I suppose in my teen years I was a little skeptical about Christians taking a popular piece of music and turning it into a message of their own, but you know, now that I am much older and wiser, I realized that is what I have done in my sermons throughout my entire ministry!

The above scriptures both speak of the storms of life and of God/Jesus being able to still the waters to a whisper. In the Psalm, the people cried out to the Lord in their distress and desperate circumstances and God leads them to safe harbor. And I don’t know what Art Garfunkel’s resources were for this song, but I believe he nearly quotes the scripture and God’s promise to us when he claims us to be our “bridge over troubled water.” And God is not just a bridge then, but even if we walk through fire, he is there to see that we are not burned. And God’s word to all of us is “Do not fear, for I am with you.” I will be behind you to comfort and care for you whether the times are good or bad. This is what God’s promise is to us when we take the name Christian.

Again, as a teen, who maybe at times was a know-it-all, I thought the song was just a popular love song, and not about Jesus. I believe it took some desperate times of my own, when I was about to be overwhelmed by the stormy waters, for me to understand that Jesus is indeed, a bridge over my troubled waters. I believe the promises in the song are promised to all God’s children, that Jesus lays himself down to take away our fears, our pain and to accompany us on our journey forever. I’ve never talked to Garfunkel to ask if he was being theological, but I still believe when times are dark and dreary and pain is all around, we can trust Jesus will be our bridge over troubled waters.
-- Rev. Galen Wray
Retired elder

Prayer for Reflection

Loving God, you have called us by name and claim us and promise to be with us always. We thank you that you walk beside us and behind us to comfort and care for us whether the times are good or bad and will always be our bridge over troubled waters. Amen.


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