Sermon for June 21, 2015
Sermon prepared and delivered by Father Tom Baker
Proper 7, Year B
Job 38:1-11 Psalm 107: 1-3, 23-32 2 Corinthians 6:1-13 Mark 4:35-41
To the attention of: Almighty Everlasting God, Lord of Lords, The Great I Am
The realm of Heaven Among the Angels and Saints
From: Your people In the world You created
We regret to inform you, God, that we are filled with questions, anger, and grief. Once again, God, our lives are tossed about by a storm of hatred, violence, and yet another mass shooting. Our lives are filled with divisions, anger, and little hope. The harsh wind of racism is raging through our land. Violence surrounds us. Wave after wave of hatred is rocking our once steady life.
What happened to the way things used to be Lord? Life used to be simpler. We can’t seem to find our footing, our life is out of balance, we don’t understand what’s going on. How strange it is that this Sunday of all Sundays we hear the story of the disciples suddenly finding themselves trapped in a storm – we can relate.
We are fully aware, God, that the story of the disciples and Jesus crossing the lake is an act of kindness. That before the disciples and Jesus stood on that shore they were under attack. First, believing Jesus was either possessed or crazy His own family came to take him away. Then Jesus kept speaking in parables that no one understood; the Kingdom is like a mustard seed? No wonder the religious leaders were bearing down on him. The disciples knew Jesus needed a break, some time away, even if was just for the few hours it took to cross the lake. So they found a boat and got Jesus a pillow so he could stretch out. It’s a lovely notion, God, that, for once, we could take care of You, Lord. Allow You the time to rest and refresh. That we could offer a little comfort to the Comforter of souls.
Then in the middle of this retreat it hit. The storm. We realize, God, that being fishermen, the disciples had faced storms on water before. But there was something different about this storm. They never felt such strong winds. Had never seen waves as big as the ones crashing over them. It was as if the storm was trying to kill them. That all the evil of the world gathered in this storm to drown Your son and the disciples with him.
Our educational department has informed us, Lord, that Mark wrote about this storm in his Gospel because the people he wrote to were surrounded by their own storm. The Christians of Mark’s time faced persecution, torture, and were often killed for their beliefs. They knew, all too well, about the storms of life.
Frankly, God, we’re not like those first century Christians. We didn’t inherit their strength. We must inform you, God, that our ancestors in faith who faced lions never had to deal with automatic weapons. We’re tired of living in a time of storm after storm. Tired of living in fear and uncertainty. Tired of not knowing when the next crisis, the next riot, the next mass shooting will happen. We’re not sure our little boat can take much more. Wave after wave of tragedy can sink anyone.
Fear has taken over our lives, God. We’re lost and powerless in the face of all these storms. And you, Lord of Lords, where are You? It seems that just like this story in Mark, when a storm hits our life, You’re in the boat asleep. Here we are, God, sinking fast, surrounded by fear and anger – and you’re asleep!? Just when we need You – You’re missing. It’s no wonder that every time pain and suffering hit our life we feel so alone.
We question your presence, God, especially this past Wednesday. It seems You were absent in Charleston. Were You asleep, God, in Your own church? Did You forget the church is named Emanuel – Hebrew for God with us? We’re sick and tired of the violence, the hatred, the death. Just like those disciples in the boat surrounded by a storm we scream – Wake up!
And when you finally awaken God you said, “Why were you afraid? Have you still no faith?” You actually question our faith? Look around, God. We’re in the middle of a storm here. We don’t know which way to turn, what to do, we’re sinking fast. If you thought we were angry before, God, that’s nothing compared to how we feel now. God – did You really just ask us WHY? That’s OUR question to You! WHY do people kill innocent lives? WHY is there so much violence? WHY, every time I turn on my TV all I see is hatred, divisions? WHY?
At this point, God, we’re gulping down our anger. Pushing it way down. That’s what we do with our anger towards You, isn’t it? We can’t express it, can’t let it go. It isn’t right to be angry with God. It isn’t even safe! If even the wind, thunder, and lighting obey You, Lord – how safe can we be? What will You do to us when the storm of our anger rises up? We’re actually more afraid of You, God, than we were afraid the storm. Your power, God, overwhelms us. Is it safe to mail this letter??
God almighty, Lord of Lords, with all due respect, and in fear, we approach You, praying You won’t reproach us. Hoping that somehow, once again, You’ll stand up and make Yourself known. Yes, we’re afraid God. Afraid of the storm. Afraid of You.
We wonder God, can we find You in our fear? Is that what Mark, what You are saying? That in the midst of all these shootings, all this violence, all this death we can find You? Even in our deep unspoken fear of You – we can find You?
Mighty Lord, we pray, stand up in our boat. We’re almost sunk. Bring the peace only You can give. We need it so badly. All we can see are storm clouds Lord. Give us hope. The hope only You can give. The kind of hope that allows us to see You standing in the middle of the chaos. To see You lift up Your arms and still the sea, brush aside the lighting and thunder, put our boat back on course.
Even more, dear God, we pray that You still the bigger storm inside us. Calm the hatred we can feel so easily. Silence the violence that can so quickly rise up in us. Forgive us for all the times we choose death instead of life. Bring peace to the storm within us. Take us toward the shore. Yes, God, we realize now that more storms will be waiting for us there but this time we will look and find. Look and find You in all our storms.