I read an old story about a New Englander and his son who were fishing in the    Atlantic, off the coast of Maine.  They had been at it all day, and the sun was sinking low in the west.  A storm was moving in and the waves were building higher.  The boy, partly afraid of the storm and partly tired and hungry, was ready to go home.  He said to his dad, “Papa, right now mother is probably praying for our safe return.”  The father understood and said with a smile, “You’re right; I’ll hold the rudder while you run up the main sail, and we will get that prayer answered.” 

That New England fisherman was probably not a theologian.  But he expressed a valid theological insight.  There are times when we should heave to and help answer a prayer, rather than stand by and wait for God to do it.  Often, Jesus is counting on us to be the answer to a prayer. 

On the night before Jesus died, He offered a very beautiful and majestic prayer.  In some ways, it seems more like an idealistic dream than a realistic prayer.

Part of His prayer said that the followers of Jesus – you and I – might be in the world but not of the world.  This may be a rather difficult request for us to understand.  At times, in an attempt to achieve holiness, we have tried to isolate ourselves from the world.   But this is not what Jesus taught or wanted.  In His prayer He specifically said, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world.”  At other times, we become so adjusted to our secular society that it becomes hard to distinguish between us and the world.  This is not what our Lord wanted either.  His prayer said, “They are not of the world any more than I am of the world.” 

It requires a considerable amount of wisdom and courage to find a middle ground between these two extremes.  St. Paul’s challenge to the church of Rome, as it is for us today, was: “Do not conform yourself to this present age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind so that you may judge what is God’s will.”  I’m not sure who first coined the phrase “march to the beat of a different drummer”, but it’s an apt description of the Christian’s relationship with the world.  We are all a part of this earthly parade; but we don’t have to stay in step with those around us who are of the world.  Our cadence comes from a distant, heavenly drum.  We are under orders, as it were, from the King of Kings. 

This, of course, does not imply that we think ourselves better than anyone else.  It simply means that we hold ourselves more accountable for our actions.  We ought to care a little more, love a little deeper, and try a little harder than those who never knew Jesus.  That is what Jesus taught and prayed – that we might live in the world and yet be different from it.  How can that ever happen without your cooperation and help?  In a true sense, we must heave to and get that prayer answered.  This week – today and tomorrow – each of us must do his or her part.  It is this truth that will transform the world into the Kingdom of God.