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"From the Pulpit" - June 22, 2024

"From the Pulpit" - reflections on the weekly texts, from Pastor Greg at Living Lord Lutheran Church

When evening had come, [Jesus said to the disciples,] “Let us go across to the other side.” 36And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”             

        the gospel for this Sunday, June 23rd, 2024

"Just As He Was"

Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the LORD Jesus Christ.

I've read this text a million times - you know this story, too.  Jesus and his disciples, after a long day of healing, feeding, touching the untouchable, and more, break away from the crowd.  Then, Jesus says, "Hey, let's go across to the other side."  Meaning, let's go to the Gerasene region - a region hostile to the news of Jesus.  Sure, why not, Jesus?  Let's go from the frying pan right into the fire!  Let's leave one tough encounter only to head into another one. Did Jesus ever turn away from a difficult encounter?  I don't think so.

But what strikes me today is the fact that they take him "just as he was." I wonder what that might have meant.  Sure, Jesus was exhausted.  Tired. Needing some time away from the crowds.  But it seems as though Jesus leaves the guys to navigate the trip "to the other side" alone this time, since he decides to take a nap in the stern of the boat.  But apparently, even this storm was just too much for the disciples to navigate on their own, without Jesus out front.  And a good number of the disciples had a background on the water, so it must have been a doozy!

So there they are - the disciples and other boats following them, Jesus asleep in the stern of the vessel, in troubled waters, headed for who knows what "on the other side"?  Doesn't that sound a lot like us, the church, the little "c" church?  Trying to navigate the troubled waters of our time, in our secular world?  Trouble everywhere.  Headed for who knows where as a people of God? Frightened. Battered by the world "out there".  Seemingly without a rudder at times?

But just like when God breathes over the waters at creation, Jesus speaks, and calms the stormy waters.  "Be still", he says, and Mark says t, the wind ceased, and the waters became a dead calm.  Out of chaos comes order. And calm.  And life!

I think sometimes we the church feel like we're the ones in that battered boat out at sea. Rudderless.  In deadly waters.  Uncertain of our future.  How will it all end up, we ask? Who will save us from this storm?  We're headed for dangerous territory. HELP!!! We holler, and pray.

But God, in Christ, speaks, and storms are calmed.  Tensions are ratcheted down for those in the boat (the church.)  Regardless of where we are headed, we know the voice of our Savior will not abandon or forsake us.  But we must listen. We must hear, and trust, and believe. And follow. Because trying to navigate a hostile world on our own will certainly lead to dangerous consequences.  And I'm not talking about just our church, but the whole Christian church here. When we think that on our own, we can make landfall safely, and be ready for the next "encounter" with whatever hostile thing is out there, we're mistaken.

Even when we feel that Jesus is distant to us, as the disciples must have felt in that terrifying moment in that boat on those waters, even when we think that God is absent in our lives, God shows up. God speaks to us, and to the world.  And somehow, the world is different after that. I know that right now, in our world, we might feel like God is asleep in the stern of the world's boat, and that no one is in charge. Worse yet is when we think we are the ones in charge. And that leads to deadly consequences.  Just look at the mess the world is in today.  We put our trust and our hopes in flawed leaders worldwide. We trust human institutions to save us.  Our eyes are fixed on the wrong things, hoping that these will lead us to the promised land. But we know that this is only false hope, don't we?

So, like the disciples in that boat, it's OK to wonder where God is at times. It's OK to invoke God's name to save us from...ourselves.  But make no mistake, God is not asleep, but is in control, even when we can't see God.  As we hear in the Scriptures, "Be still, and know that I am God."  Can we be still long enough to know this? Can we be silent enough to hear God in our world?  I pray that this will be so. Amen.  Thanks be to God.

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