John 6:17b-20 – By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them (the disciples). A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed three or three-and-a-half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were terrified. But he said to them, "It is I; don't be afraid."
I am involved with a small outreach on the outskirts of Victoria, British Columbia. Within our small group, there are a few that are involved with a prison ministry at William Head Prison. I had the privilege on November 16th to go with them to the chapel at the prison. Since it was Restorative Justice Week, I was told that the service was a little bit different. Instead of having a homily, the chaplain opened it up to the inmates and visitors to discuss the theme of "challenging fear". The two scriptures which were read were about "love casting out all fear" and how Jesus calmed the disciples' fear in the storm. Many of the inmates talked about the fear they have of returning to the "outside" and the fear that the community has of them. I was touched by the genuineness and the friendliness of everyone I met and I was also challenged in my own call "to be the church". As I reflected on the theme of Restorative Justice, I realized that the fear that we may have is no different than the fear that the inmates have. It is the fear of the unknown and the fear of not finding a safe place or a place of acceptance. Jesus has come to each of us to say, "It is I; don't be afraid". As a Church, we have to find ways to make people feel safe; we have to love our brother and our sister so that they will not be afraid.
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, that we have a safe place with you. Thank you that you have come to calm our storms and that you have been there when our life seems dark and when the waters of our life seem rough. Help us to reach out in love to all our brothers and sisters and provide a place of comfort and acceptance for them. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.