2018-06-24/Pentecost 5-B/Community Lutheran/Pr Joe Vought
Job 38:1-11 Mark 4:35-41
I was pretty anxious growing up. Being a first child, premature at a whopping 3 pounds, I know my parents worried. I remember breathing treatments for asthma as a kid. My mom remembered the day President Kennedy was shot I was in 1st Grade, I ran home from school crying into her arms because we just studied the Presidents. I remember being scared by a Sunday School teacher who used end of the world Bible stories as discipline for unruly boys. When dad told me Jesus loved me and nothing would change that it was Good News. The teacher never taught again. When we moved to Gettysburg, I got a Civil War outfit with a gun, sword and officer’s hat. I looked really cool and wore it all the time. At night it hung on the post of my bunkbed. When light from the street would shine in my window, the gun, sword and hat would cast shadows on the wall, I would get scared and run into my parent’s room crying, “Is there going to be another war?” And they would welcome me into their bed to soothe my fears.
Mark tells us his Gospel is the Good News of Jesus the Son of God, but there is fear around Jesus. As Jesus calls disciples they go to his hometown where he does an exorcism, “I know who you are. You are the Holy One of God.” When Jesus heals Peter’s mother in law and exorcises more demons people are scared. The demons know Jesus but his family thinks he’s out of his mind and Pharisees say he is a demon. Not a great way to begin a ministry. Even when Jesus says God’s Kingdom is like a seed growing into a great shrub for birds of every kind, he might just be speaking of himself: people discount him, yet God’s Kingdom grows.
At the end of a long day of teaching Jesus says, “Let us go across to the other side.” Mark says, “Leaving the crowd they took Jesus with them in the boat, just as he was.” Remember these guys knew these waters. When the disciples set sail with Jesus, a great storm arose, the boat is swamped while Jesus sleeps. Disciples cry out in panic in fear, “Don’t you care that we are perishing? Jesus rises up, rebukes the wind and waves, “Peace be still!” There was a dead calm and they were filled with awe. Jesus says, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” Jesus cares and he is tough. In Mark’s Gospel the disciples come across as failures but maybe it helps if we think of this time as a kind of internship, like a parent helping them grow up and not be so afraid. Jesus called them to follow, to listen to his teaching, to witness his healing and perhaps more than anything to hear Jesus pray and point to God who was his source of strength. He was training them for the time when he would send them out to share Good News and be God’s messengers. When they say, “Who is this that even wind and sea obey him?” maybe they finally get it. We are in the presence of the Holy One. Like Moses in front of a burning bush, Israel walking through the Red Sea, Jonah in the belly of the whale and Job, in the first lesson to hear God say, “Gird up your loins, I will question you: Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth or the morning stars sang together?” God does not always answer our questions but God comes to question us. Many of us know the word crisis in the Chinese language means danger and opportunity. Willa Cather, the author, who grew up on the Plains and probably saw more than a few tornados and storms said, “There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.” In the storms and crises that come upon us, we put our trust in Jesus and the God whom Jesus trusted and we care for the little ones. My parents spoke peace to my fears, they taught me to pray, where to hear Good News and keep faith with others. I’m still learning what it means to have faith and not be ruled by fear. At Vacation Bible School 60 kids, 40 teens and adults learned “When we are scared, Jesus rescues!”
Jesus called his disciples from fear to faith, to cross boundaries, to bring healing and share Good News with the world. When we are afraid, God is our refuge and strength. Even amid the storms of politics and current events I am proud our nation spoke about our values. Michael Gerson, a conservative Christian has said: “Christians are to love their neighbor, everyone is a neighbor. All appearances of difference – race, ethnicity, nationality and accomplishment – are deceptive. No one is worthless. You can argue about criminal-justice policy – but, as a Christian, you cannot treat children like animals. You can disagree about refugees – but you can’t terrorize children.” We keep faith in the midst of our fears, Jesus is in the boat, we are in the boat… We have brothers and sisters with whom we may share our fears and pray with in faith so that we may find our courage to love like Jesus. Jesus is with us in the boat, He spoke peace and the wind ceased, and he brought them to the harbor they were bound for. Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever. Amen.