35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
The gospel lesson for this week could not be more appropriate than any week we have had here in a long time. The weather, something besides heat has sure been interesting. As of now we have been fortunate compared to some of our neighbors around us. Hail damage to homes and vehicles on the front range in the millions of dollars. Crops around Hillrose and Merino battered, and flooding in some of the mountain areas has been difficult at best. The ravaging fires in the west have turned to running mud and ash streams in many places. Sightings of funnel clouds some even touching down are unusual for us in NE Colorado.
We always have those who have reasons for all the strange twist in storms, from global warming to God punishing us for our atrocities and sin. First let me be very clear, God didn’t bring the storms upon us as punishment for our iniquities. When a hurricane sets up off the Baja peninsula and the proper barometric pressure pulls the moisture to the north east we get wet. We get unusual weather patterns until the moisture dries up in the air. The fury of the storms is explained by weather and scientific laws. But that does not stop the fear and even the cost of these storms mounting. I am sure that some people who have been hammered by these storms feel a little like the disciples did in that boat that evening as they crossed the sea.
Jesus had been teaching along the seashore when he decided that it was time to take a break and to go across the sea. He was wore out and went to the front the boat curled up on a pillow and fell asleep. Now some other boats made the crossing with them because Jesus was getting pretty famous so his entourage with the paparazzi had to follow. You may remember that the disciples with Jesus were experienced in the art of fishing and sailing a boat across the sea would be nothing unusual for them. But that night all bets were off.
The wind began to blow, and the waves grew and began to crash into the side of the boat. Their mode of transportation was taking on water. The disciples were freaking out because they could not bail water fast enough. They were going to be swamped and chances were drowned at sea. They look up and they see Jesus still sleeping through the storm. How could this be the boat was listing up and down side to side and the water was flying over the sides, if nothing else he should have been soaked by the water. Nope sound asleep, he might have even been snoring!
The disciples are freaking out and their Master, their Teacher was sound asleep. They run up and yell dude, don’t you care that we are all about to die here. And Jesus looks around and says, “Peace, be still!” and just like that the winds stopped, and the waves stopped crashing into the boat. Now wind stopping is one thing but the waves as well. That is crazy. We know today that there is this thing called kinetic energy and that when the sea starts moving it takes a long time for it stop. The energy has to be absorbed some where and Jesus took all the energy from the sea away.
Now the crazy part is Jesus looks at the disciples, who just a few hours ago he had explained all the parables to about him being the Son of Man and the glory of the Kingdom of God and said, “Why are you so afraid, have you still no faith?” Eugene Peterson in the Message version translate this as, “Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith at all?” These men who have been on the sea since they were little boys and had seen the power and destruction of the storms on the sea rage for years had just been called cowards because they didn’t have enough faith? They had knowledge of faith alright but the it was in the power of destruction, not in the power of faith in Jesus.
They were literally and figuratively blown away by what had just happened. They looked at each other and said, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” The craziness of this miracle they had just witnessed was impossible to comprehend. It defied all logic. Who is this guy? The winds and the waves were dependent upon themselves not the power of this one man. But the power of God involved in the creation of the world is also capable of controlling the forces of nature. This power was incarnate in the Son of Man. But that just doesn’t seem to make sense, right? Hold that thought and set it right over here for a minute.
David and Goliath…
Return to that thought we set over here, does God make the weather come upon us? The questions must be answered with a couple of questions first. Did God cause the weather to prove a point or did the weather happen and Jesus calmed the storm to prove a point? Did God send the Giant Philistine to prove a point or to allow for David to claim the Lord of Hosts as the one who gave him the power to slay the giant?
We all have our giants that need to be killed and storms that need to be calmed. The world is filled with things that cause people to be stressed and afraid. Yet as Christians we have been challenged by Jesus to believe in him and not be afraid. From the opening of the gospels when the angels visited Mary, and then the shepherds, and then when Jesus preached, and when the women arrived at the tomb, the theme is do not be afraid. In a world in which so many things can go awry fear is a natural response, yet Jesus gave the disciples and us a different way. Trust in the power of the kingdom of God.
The storm and the giant are examples of events that happen to all of us in our lives. The God of love does not necessarily make these things happen to us to test our faith. But God is in the things that happen because we trust that we are not walking alone. When we fight over secure borders and global warming, budgets and education, environmental issues you name it we do fight, are we doing so in the name of the one who can calm the seas, or do we fight for the sake of fighting.
Just knowing that we do not have to face the giants of our lives alone helps us to understand that we can make it through to the other side. When we rely on the peace of God then we can become grateful for what we have and share God’s love with those who are going through a hard time. Let’s face it we have become pretty petty in our lives. We complain about everything from grass not green enough or too long, baseball teams wins and losses, people putting things away in the right or wrong places, you name it we like to grumble. The truth is there are bigger storms and more real giants in the world to deal with.
Knowing the truth of God’s purpose is important. Creating space to allow giants to be slayed and then to share love is what we should be about. Providing refuge for those being thrown about in the sea of life is what churches have tried to do for centuries. We should strive to do the same. We need to go outside the walls to see the storm and the giants. They don’t come inside to us. We are the ones who have been seasoned by the winds and the waves. We are the beneficiaries of God’s love in times of trials and despair. Let us share that love with one another. Amen.