June 24 2018 “Working from the Wind and the Waves” I Samuel 17.1a, 4-11.19-23, 32-37 *Mark 4. 35-41 Pastor Jacqueline Hines
1. An elderly lady was well known for her faith and for her boldness and talking about it. She would stand on her front porch and shout, "Praise the Lord!"
Next door to her lived an atheist who would get so angry at her proclamations he would shout, "There ain't no Lord!!"
Hard times set in on the elderly lady and she prayed for God to send her some assistance. She stood on her porch and shouted, "Praise the Lord!! God, I need FOOD!! I am having a hard time. Please, Lord, send me some groceries!!"
The next morning, the lady went out on her porch and saw a large bag of groceries and shouted, "Praise the Lord!!"
The neighbor jumped from behind a bush and said, "Ha Ha!! I told you there was no Lord. I bought those groceries. God didn't."
The lady started jumping up and down and clapping her hands and saying, "PRAISE THE LORD!!! He not only sent me groceries, but He made the devil pay for them!!"
Our gospel lesson begins with the three words, “On that day…” It brings to mind the idea that each day is marked with particular events and happenings. That is why we often ask one another, “How was your day?” [slide # 1 How was your day?]
News headlines mark the days that stand out as special or noteworthy. We hold on to our history day by day to comfort us and remind us to move forward in our journey, to put one foot in front of another, knowing that tomorrow is yet another day, full of promise and potential. So the question, how was your day, helps us to recall highlights and events that inspire and teach us what can be so helpful! [slide # 2 lessons learned]
Verse 35 tells us “On that day, when evening had come,…” Jesus said to the Disciples,” ‘Let us go across to the other side of the lake.’ [slide # 3 On that day…] Jesus’ invitation to take a boat ride was just the beginning of a day that they would never forget. It was the day the disciples thought they were going to die. Verse 37 says “A great gale arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped.” [slide # 4 boat in a storm]
Have you ever been on a boat or water vehicle of any kind? [slide 5 # Have you ever…?] Have you ever been on a boat that was leaking? Have you ever been on a boat that was in jeopardy because it had plumbing problems or engine problems? Have you ever been on a boat in stormy weather?
Have you ever been on a boat and you had problems with sea sickness or some other physical or emotional challenge or something was worrying you?
[slide # 6 lots of people in a boat] I attended a training workshop once and the focus point was that as human beings we should think of ourselves as being in the same boat together. [slide # 7 MLK quote re boat] By faith, we believe that Jesus is in the boat with us. [slide # 8 we are all in the same boat]
On this day, there was a gale, a wind so strong that it pushed waves of water into the boat! They thought this would be they day they would die, and Jesus was sleeping. [slide # 9 Jesus sleeping in boat] They woke him up and asked him if he cared that they were dying?
That is not a very common question: Do you care that we are dying? We are surrounded by people who care about us in general. [slide # 10 line of people caring] We know people who would give us the shirt off their backs. There are even strangers who are trained to put their lives on the line for us.
Can you begin to count the persons in your lifetime who have labored diligently and made great sacrifices for you or your loved ones? We are so grateful that someone cares, especially when we are in dire need, desperate and despairing, when we are terrified by our troubles and anxious about our future. We want to be reassured that someone cares. And someone always does! As God cares for us, we learn to care for others. [slide # 11 cared for people care]
We need others to care for us and we need to be ready to care for others as God leads us because, like the disciples in the boat with Jesus that day, there are many waves to handle. There are at least 3 waves that often come our way in life.
One wave is the wave of weather. Weather is something we do not control for the most part, though there is a conversation going on about global warming and our taking care of the earth so it can take care of us. We cannot control when the weather is hot and hazy, cool and cloudy, or sunny and stormy. We cannot put even one snowflake in the air or plant one rainbow in the sky. We are not in charge. [slide # 12 sailboat at sunrise]
We cannot control the weather, so we need to care about each other in all kinds of weather. We need to do our best to care for each other and the earth, so that it will not have to vomit up an ocean of recycled plastic and caustic chemicals that are regularly tossed into the sewers by humans. We want to think twice about our care for the earth, as our United Methodist Book of Discipline urges us, so that it will not be forced to spit out acid rain until it burns our produce and prohibits bees from pollinating beautiful flowers. We need to care about each other and the earth when the waves of weather come before us.
A second wave is the wave of worry. So many times, Jesus reminds the disciples: “fear not.” Even to this day, the message echoes in our hearts: fear not. The healing work of the Holy Spirit wants our brains to register the truth that we can trust God, that God cares, that God will send who and what we need to walk with us and to take care of us.
Conversation with God, praying about everything, keeps us from drowning in our worries and wailing in our anguish and whimpering in our waiting. God’s word is wisdom that overcomes our worries. [slide # 13 pray more, worry less]
There are days that our little boats may be full of water and we wonder if we will make it alive to shore, nevertheless, behind the roar of our ocean of worries is the blessed assurance that we need not worry or fear, because God cares and is working everything out for us, even if we are momentarily inundated by a wave of worry.
A third wave that comes our way in life is the wave of weakness. There are days that we are not strong at all, days that we fail over and over and over again. We fail to regain our health. Our relationships do not succeed. For the life of us, we cannot produce not even one good solution to some nagging problem that is giving us nightmares. [slide # 14 Alone I am weak…Jesus...]
We are weak, but our God is strong. When the disciples encountered powerful winds that rocked their little boat until their lives flashed before them, they went to Jesus who was sleeping soundly. He was not disturbed at all.
They went to Jesus and they asked Jesus if he cared about them. Those who care about us, do what Jesus did when the disciples asked him if he cared. Jesus rebuked the wind. He stopped the storm in its tracks. [slide # 15 Jesus rebuking the wind] At first, Jesus did not answer them with words. He answered them by doing something about the storm. Those who care, do something and say something by the power of God that makes the storm less threatening.
Jesus proved he cared by doing something. He did what he could do. He did what God asked him to do, and so should we. Suddenly their fear was eclipsed by the dawning of their faith, the internal storm within their souls subsided, as Jesus spoke to the sea, saying ‘Peace! Be still!’ The wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.
They were in awe of Jesus’ ability and willingness to calm the restless sea. They were filled with a feeling of reverence and respect and wonder. “Who is this that even the winds and the waves obey him?”
We are made in God’s image and when we do what God wants us to do and say what God wants us to say, others see Jesus in us and are filled with awe, because what we do when the waves are threatening, makes a world of difference. [slide # 16 together we make a difference]
When the waves were calm, Jesus asked the disciples like he asks us, ‘Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?’ Jesus was not necessarily waiting for their answer. Perhaps the question is really an invitation for us to calm down. [slide # 17 calm down…blow up] Perhaps we are being asked to trust God in every storm, to have at least enough faith to speak up and dare to say to Jesus, “We’re dying here. Do you care?” [slide # 18 can trust God no matter what]
If we dare to keep our eyes on Jesus long enough, we will see the awesome things that he is doing. We miss the peaceful presence of Jesus if our faith is focused solely on a special someone, or our bank account, or our church, or our government. [slide # 19 peace in the boat] And those who are in the know, know that Jesus will not always still a storm on our terms, but if we stick with him, if WE are faithful, then we too will be filled with awe.
Whatever wave that is in your life today – a wave of weathering something that you cannot control, a wave of worry that has shaken you to your core, or a wave of weakness that reminds you that you need God’s strength, dare to call on Jesus and know that something awesome and wonderful is about to happen. And you may be the one God uses to bring it about. [slide # 20 you were born…] Amen. [slide # 21 It’s ok to be awesome]