“BE STILL” – Pentecost 4 (Ordinary 12) 2021 Year B
1 Sam 17:32-34; Psa 133; 2 Cor 6:1-13; Mark 4:35-41
William Barclay the Scottish Biblical Commentator, wrote that Lake Galilee was notorious for its fierce storms which literally come out of the blue with shattering and terrifying suddenness even when the sky is perfectly clear.
Winds from the heights of Hauran, the plateaux of Trachonitis, and the summit of Mount Hermon are funneled down the many ravines and compressed in such a way that, rushing with tremendous force and through narrow wadis they are suddenly released upon Lake Galilee to turn mirror stillness into a thrashing fury.
The disciples were experienced professional fishermen who weren’t easily frightened by storms but this storm was nasty, it was nasty enough to make them sore afraid.
They woke Jesus who was sleeping in the boat, they woke him and they said, almost as an accusation, “Don’t you care? Don’t you care that we are perishing in this storm?”
When he had woken, Jesus spoke to the tempest with the same words that he spoke to the demon possessed man in the Gospel of Mark 1:25 – he said to the storm, (σιωπάω φιμόω) see-o-pah’- fee-moo –
“Shut up! Be still!
Suddenly, the storm was stilled as was the storm of fear in the hearts and minds of his disciples.
With this stilling, with this calming of the storm Jesus turned to his disciples and asked, “Why are you so afraid?
Barclay says; “We do this story poor justice if we only understand it in a literal sense. If the story describes nothing more than a physical miracle in which an actual storm was stifled, it is very wonderful thing and it is something at which we must marvel, but it is something which happened once and cannot happen again. “
But if we read this story in a symbolic sense then it becomes for us something far more valuable.
The disciples knew that Jesus was with them, that he was in their boat and that they were able to call on him.
To voyage with Jesus – is to voyage in peace – even in the midst of the thrashing storms of life.
The story of the wind and the waves is rich with meaning and there are so many ways that this story applies to us.
It is an invitation for us to trust God and not only when life is good, not only when we have our health, not only when we have wealth and our family abounds. The story calls us to trust God in the midst of the storms of life – and life as we know it can be filled with storms.
Storms are part of your life and mine. I once worked alongside police officers, men and women who daily encounter the carnage, the wreckage of the storms of life.
Suicide, homicide, death, street violence, domestic violence, senseless road trauma, are but some of the stormy situations that our police have to deal with on a daily basis.
At some time all of us have been battered by the storms of life, by our encounter, with unemployment, financial difficulty, global pandemic, health issues, marriage failures, family breakdown and a host of other raging storms around us and at the centre of our lives.
Like the disciples of Jesus we might also turn to God in a panic attack and accusingly ask, “Don’t you care?” “Don’t you care that we are perishing?”
Into these situations, Jesus asks a profound question, “Why are you afraid?” “Why aren’t you trusting?” “Why are you so afraid of the storms of life?”
Is there ever going to be a time in life where there are not storms? Is the world designed in such a way that you and I are cocooned and insulated from the storms of life?
Of course not!
This is the stuff of life because you and I were made for storms and while ever Jesus is in our boat then we have nothing to fear – nothing – not even death itself.
I want to leave you with a final question. It is not in the story, it’s not in the text. But it is a question worth pondering, a question worth asking.
Do you think it possible- just possible, that Jesus may have been sleeping with one eye open?
Could it be possible that Jesus was fully aware of the raging storm but remained asleep in the boat because he wanted his disciples to wrestle with the storm themselves?
Maybe, just maybe, God wants us to fight our storms with all of the faith, the knowledge, the gifts, the skills that he has given to us
Dear friends, we were made for the storms of life and if God is in our boat then we have nothing to fear!
Locum Tenens – Priest in Charge