From the Pastor April 2024

Calm in the Storm

“They went to him and woke him up, shouting, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. Luke 8:24 NRSV

I have a love/hate relationship with storms. I don’t care for the wind, hail, flooding, etc. which bring the loss of personal property or even life. I don’t enjoy the clean-up associated with the passing of a hurricane. I’m not fond of driving a considerable distance when the rain falls so hard it’s difficult to see beyond the end of my hood. But, on the other hand, I have always liked the sound of thunder. Not necessarily the loud boom heard almost simultaneously with a flash of lightning, but the rumble in the distance. There are times during the summer when I will go out onto our back porch in the evening and listen as a storm approaches. I suppose I get that from my parents and grandparents who often did the same when I was a child commenting, “It’s getting mighty dark across the river” or “I don’t like the look of that cloud just over the trees.”

As I sit to write these words, we are in the midst of “Severe Weather Preparedness Week,” a time set aside as spring approaches to remind people of the dangers associated with the weather and to emphasize the need to be ready in the event of a weather-related emergency. Those disciples of Jesus who were experienced fishermen understood the necessity of being prepared when it came to the weather conditions upon the Sea of Galilee and, most certainly, each had experience with the factors which could turn peaceful waters into violent swells in no time at all. It was a moment such as this which created one of the most-beloved miracle stories in the Gospels: Jesus’ calming of the storm. The story is an illustration of Jesus’ power and authority over nature and, at the same time, an opportunity for the disciples to puzzle over the identity of the one who had invited them to follow him.

It’s difficult to imagine the Son of God sleeping, but the story informs us that was the very thing which Jesus did as the vessel made its way eastward across the Sea of Galilee. I say “eastward” because the following verses report Jesus’ healing of a demon-possessed man in the region of the Gerasenes which was east of the Sea of Galilee. With all of the teaching and healing opportunities in Jesus’ life, is it any wonder that the creator of rest needed rest for himself? It’s actually surprising that he was able to get any rest at all surrounded by the twelve disciples who I have a hard time imagining were the quietest of travel mates. We have no idea as to how long or far their voyage had taken when the conditions made a drastic change. The wind kicked up, the boat began to rock back and forth, and fear filled everyone, everyone but Jesus. After all, he was asleep. But asleep or not, Jesus was in their boat.

It’s easy to relate to those disciples isn’t it? Conditions changed and they presumed they were as good as dead. In the account of Mark 4, the disciples went as far as accusing Jesus of not caring about their plight. I suppose they felt that if Jesus was with them then the storm should not have surfaced at all. While that may seem like folly, it’s not far from the experience of many of us. If God cared at all, we wouldn’t be faced with _. In that moment, the disciples seem to have forgotten what they knew of Jesus leading up to the storm and how his touch and word had transformed the situations of others. Maybe that was their problem. They were confident of what Jesus could do for others, but lacked the faith for their own experience. It’s what we might call “spiritual amnesia” or “selected memory” when it comes to the faithfulness of God. The chances are a lock that you have, are, or will undergo some type of storm in your life, but as someone shared with me a while back, “If you’re reading these words, then you are alive and have survived every trial and difficulty to this point.” The storms are not the most pleasant of experiences for any of us, but we’re never alone. In the words of a song by Scott Krippayne, “Sometimes he calms the storm and other times he calms his child.”

Thanks Be Unto God,
The Reverend Kelley Smart