Who is THIS, that even the wind and the sea obey him? Well, it seems pretty clear to me that Mark’s gospel AND our readings this morning are trying to help us answer that question… Who is it that the wind and sea obey? The LORD God, who answered Job out of the whirlwind, the Lord who stilled the storm to a whisper… it is the same Lord, the same God, who is asleep in the in the stern of the boat, whose disciples cry out, “teacher do you not care that we are perishing?” The same Lord, the same God who rebuked the storm, saying “Peace! Be Still”. Mark’s gospel is clear that Jesus does the things that God does because Jesus and God and one and the same.
But what if this telling of Jesus calming the storm has other implications?
We often hear that Jesus will calm the storms of our lives; the emotional, spiritual storms that can be so much more terrifying than even being tossed about at sea. Our spiritual lives depend on the knowledge that Jesus is with us to help calm the various storms that we find ourselves in. But maybe there is more to it…
Did you ever wonder why Jesus had to be woken up? I mean, I can sleep through a storm if I am safe inside my house, but asleep on a boat? That sounds a little far-fetched to me. He knew they wouldn’t perish, but maybe there’s even more there, certainly as it pertains to us and the various storms in our own lives.
What if… as disciples of Jesus, we are being asked to actually engage the storm instead of trying to stop it?
Obviously that may not make the most sense if you’re out on a fishing boat in the middle of the sea of Galilee, but when we think about the “storms of life” if you will, wouldn’t our task be to enter into the storm?
There are many storms out there in the world we live in. So many issues that have people yelling at and over each other. And, the thing is, Jesus told his disciples he was sending lambs into the midst of wolves; that they would be rejected because of him; so do we really expect that it’s going to be any different for us? The life of discipleship is costly; for some it has cost their very lives. So for us, being at least uncomfortable should be a given. If we find our lives as Christians to be easy and carefree, well then I have bad news. We aren’t doing it right.
The two greatest commandments are to love God and to love our neighbor; and I truly believe that one of the ways that we love God is to love our neighbor… to recognize Jesus in our neighbor and to enter into the storms that may be surrounding them whether or not the particular issue is one that affects us or not…. Because, here’s a secret; if it affects one of us, it affects all of us. Our common humanity means that at a very basic level issues of justice for a brother or a sister are an issue of justice for us. When we act in the world, whatever we do affects another. Entering into the storms around us like racism, poverty, equal rights for gay, lesbian and transgender peope, police brutality… whatever it is that has our brothers and sisters feeling unsafe is a storm that you and I must enter into; we must show them Jesus, we must help them to trust the Jesus within US to help calm the storm, not outrun it, but to actually calm the storm; to fight against injustice, and prejudice, and anything that keeps others unsafe, unequal, and afraid.
Discipleship means that we are always thinking of the lives of others, we are always looking for ways to make those lives better, because Jesus loves them as much as he loves us… and we show our love for him by loving his people… and that means all people. If we are ever in doubt about who Jesus loves, remember he loves all people… and all those people are related to us as brothers and sisters created by a loving God. It is in loving them that we find ourselves and we find God. And beloved, it’s not always easy, and it might mean that we are at odds with other people. And honestly, I don’t know why there are people around us who would not want justice and freedom and equality for all of God’s people. I suspect, like the disciples in the boat, it’s fear… fear that there isn’t enough, fear that if one group has justice another group doesn’t. But that’s not how God’s kingdom works; when we think that way we are confusing our ways with God’s ways; we are misunderstanding our place in God’s world; we are trying to gain power that doesn’t really exist in the kingdom of God. Maybe we are afraid to engage in these storms because we are afraid that Jesus isn’t in the boat. Sometimes we have to believe in the things that are unseen, we have to have the faith that knows somewhere in the darkest moments, that Jesus has already been there so that he will always be wherever we find ourselves. Even and perhaps especially in the storms that threaten the safety and well being of our neighbors.
You may not believe you are equipped to handle the storms; but you are. Jesus is in the boat and he is inviting all of us on some pretty wild rides. Hold on tight. Do not be afraid. Have faith. Remember who it is that even the wind and the sea obey. Be at peace, and bring that peace to others.