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Straining at the Oars (Cornerstone)

Oct 1, 2017 - Rev Paul Rasmussen

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Discussion Questions

  1. Think of a time when you were straining at the oars. Did you cry out to Jesus? What happened?
  2. What do you typically think of when you take Communion?
  3. Read the story again. What does this story make you think about Jesus?
  4. How can you carve out more time in this week to invite Jesus into your boat?

This week in Cornerstone, we gathered at the Table to celebrate Communion. 

Traditionally at Communion, we read and remember the Last Supper at which Jesus takes the bread, blesses it and breaks it, saying, “This is my body…”

This week instead, Paul re-framed Communion using this text from the Gospel of Mark:

Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.

Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified.

Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down." - Mark 6:45-51

Did you catch that?

The disciples were straining at the oars in a storm. He walked on water to reach them.

He was about to pass them by, but they cried out

Then he climbed into the boat with them. And the wind died down.

Each of us faces storms. Some are storms we have brought on ourselves. Some rage on in the circumstances of life. But at some point in our lives, we will strain at the oars. 

Communion is a pre-set appointment with Jesus. When we come to the Table, we remember his life, given for yours and for mine. The bread and the cup are his promise to us; they remind us that he is faithful. He will climb into the boat with us. 

Are you straining at the oars? Cry out to Jesus. Eat the bread, and drink from the cup. 

Cry out to Jesus. 

He’ll climb into your boat.

Dig Deeper

During your First 15, spend time reading Mark 6:45-56. Imagine yourself as one of the original disciples, witnessing Jesus in these ways. What questions or thoughts would you have for him?

If we see the story of Jesus walking on water as a metaphor for how he will respond to us in our own storms, we can get angry or heartbroken when “the winds” don’t die down immediately. Have you ever cried out to Jesus – and nothing about your circumstances changed? How do you reconcile that reality with the idea that he is still in the boat with you – whether the wind rages on or not?

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