Mark 4:35-41 (CEB)
Jesus stops a storm
Later that day, when evening came, Jesus said to them, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the lake.” They left the crowd and took him in the boat just as he was. Other boats followed along.
Gale-force winds arose, and waves crashed against the boat so that the boat was swamped. But Jesus was in the rear of the boat, sleeping on a pillow. They woke him up and said, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re drowning?”
He got up and gave orders to the wind, and he said to the lake, “Silence! Be still!” The wind settled down and there was a great calm. Jesus asked them, “Why are you frightened? Don’t you have faith yet?”
Overcome with awe, they said to each other, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey him!”
I love this reading! There are all sorts of questions to be asked, chief among them – “was Jesus an amazingly heavy sleeper who could sleep through WW3, or was he pretending to be asleep just to see what the disciples would do? I’ll leave you to ponder that…
What I want to say today is not really about the content or specifically the meaning of the text, but rather my approach to it. It is VERY easy to ease into a sermon about Jesus calming the storms of our lives…
However… my life is not especially stormy at the moment. In fact, compared with the lives of millions of people around the world, my life has NEVER been particularly stormy. I always feel like a fraud when I have to preach on this passage, as if I have to talk up the storms that I face and my congregation face in order for Jesus to be the dramatic solution.
(and – yes – I know many people have stormy lives and that many of them have been in my congregations and that not everyone will disclose the storms they are facing… etc… but I can only tell it like it is, I still feel a bit of a fraud!)
So – how to approach this passage about Jesus calming a storm if your life is not that stormy?
Here’s some options:
- Just leave it out – move on – read something else. Maybe this isn’t for you today!
- Invent some fictional storminess or exaggerate a minor squall so you feel part of the stormy gang. (ridiculous as this may sound, I think this is far more common than you might think… see the whole of fb!)
- Take another look at the passage.
OK – no surprises, I’m going with number 3.
For me, today – I can still imagine Jesus turning towards me and asking: “Phil, why are you frightened? Don’t you have faith yet?”
Why is so much of my life lived in the shadow of fear? What if it goes wrong? What if people don’t like me? What if I just end up looking stupid? What if they laugh at me? What if after all the effort I put into ministry, nothing seems to change? What if nobody comes? What if…
And my fears are not just about me – far from it! Most of my fears are about my kids and where their futures will lie – and will they ever get the breaks they need to spread their wings and move on with their lives.
These fears keep me awake at night sometimes – literally. (First world fears?)
And Jesus turns to me and asks: “Phil, why are you frightened? Don’t you have faith yet?”
And I reply… I don’t really know.
While you think about it, here’s a flash video animation if the incident made by my son Hywel when he was nobbut a nipper many, many years ago! 🙂