2015-07-19 – Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato – First Baptist Church Edmonton
Mark 6, selected verses
“Where You Are”
[disclaimer: we won’t be including the “feed the 5000” story today]
The invitation was music to their ears…Jesus voice saying:
“Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves…and rest.”
Many of the disciples breathed loud and long sighs of relief….this weary crew had just recently entombed their friend John…gruesomely beheaded at one of Herod’s lavish parties, and ever since then, they’d been on the run. Jesus’ reputation was preceding them wherever they went…whether a bustling city or a rural po-dunk village, the word was out…Jesus (or the new Elijah, the new Moses) was turning lives and economies upside-down. Some loved him for it (wearing shirts imprinted with phrases like “Jesus is the new Eli”)…while others hated him, calling him a fraud and a lunatic “He’s a mad man…working on behalf of BeelzeBUL, the ruler of the demons!”
And the disciples are somewhere inbetween…for now, they’re still in the game with this vagabond teacher and healer who had won their hearts…Andrew still reminisces about that poignant moment, when Jesus looked at the crowds and cried out “Who are my mothers and brothers? HERE [pointing at the disciples] are my mothers and brothers…whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” (3:34)
So it seems that it’s “siesta time” for Jesus mothers and brothers! A relieved grin spreads across Andrew’s face as the disciples re-organize their gear and food rations, preparing for a quiet boat ride to a wilderness lakeside retreat along the seashores of galilee.
And the boat ride IS restful and light hearted…but their arrival to a “quiet place” is upended by clamouring crowds who noisily await them on the shoreline just east of Capernum.
People cry out…Jesus, son of david, have mercy on me!
Others shout…You healed Jairus’ daughter, now heal my son!
Jesus…Jesus….Jesus…Son of the Most High…hear our cries!
The disciples roll their eyes in disbelief… “you’ve got to be kidding me, this is bullsh*t!” yells James. There is no way in hades that I am rowing into that gong-show…Jesus, you said we were going to rest! James orders the disciples to stop rowing.
A look of compassion and care wells up in Jesus’ face…and though the boat is still 100 yards out, Jesus leaps into the water and splashes his way to the crowd. The disciples stare in disbelief and wonder as Jesus is welcomed by the boisterous masses…
He makes his way up to a grassy knoll and instantly begins to teach with words that the disciples have come to know as his signature speech…
“Blessed are the poor in spirit…Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled…”
Plus this time he adds new words…
“I am the gate for the sheep…All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate….Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture…I AM…the good shepherd.”
Jesus eventually convinces the disciples to join him…and they are privy to one of most amazing feeding frenzies in all of history…and yet their hearts are still unconvinced of what Jesus is up to…perhaps its sheer exhaustion or their inability to let go of their disappointments & “way-laid” expectations…
At dusk…as the crowds are finally thinning out…Jesus orders the disciples to go ahead of him to Bethsaida, they will rest there for the night, and it’s only a 3-hour boatride away… Jesus will meet them tomorrow after a night of solitary prayer.
But this has been and will be a day they will not soon forget…running on fumes and unable to imagine one more “hiccup” in the plan…the disciples encounter a storm at the mid-way mark of their rowing trip…instead of being in their beds at 11 pm, they are fighting a fierce storm at sea in the middle of the night!…for 4 hours they push and pull at their oars…weariness turning into despair…
out of the corner of his eye, Thomas sees a shadowy figure walking alongside the boat…he wipes away water that is battering his face and shouts out… “a ghost! We’re all going to die!…O God….not now, not this way!”
But the ghost is not walking towards them, it’s walking ahead of them…and Peter screams… “It’s Jesus!”
Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!
And in an instant, the storm lifts and swirls away into the sky above…and Jesus stands with them as they wince and grimace…each in varying states of water-logged fatigue and exasperation.
“Take heart….IT IS I….I AM WHO I AM….do not be afraid.”
“Easy for you to say…”mutters Thaddaeus.
“Let’s get this boat ashore,” Peter blurts out.
As they moor the boat on the shoreline of Gennesaret they are dumbfounded by how lost they have been… they’ve been pushed backwards by the storm and end up miles away from their destination.
But they are safe…and as another clamouring crowd awaits this Mysterious Messiah on yet another shoreline, the disciples, for today, will be glad…
They are still alive…to witness another day of healing, hope, compassion and forgiveness…offered by their friend and teacher, [and sometimes tormenter?]…the one who calls them brothers…their unlikely Saviour…Jesus.
* * * * * *
>>> This story inspired a new hymn for me >>>>
Um….were you there when he cancelled the retreat?
Were you there when he almost walked by us in the boat as we were struggling with our oars in the midst of a storm?
Um….wait a second….sometimes…it causes me to wonder, wonder, wonder…
Were you there when he left us in the boat and then went out and helped all the other people and expected us to just go along with it and not complain and just be good disciples about it…?
* * * * *
If we keep today’s story “honest” (and I think we ought to do that will ALL of the GodStory)…I hope we get a little “snagged”… ‘cuz it’s in the snags, that we might ask ourselves…what’s the good news in this story? And it’s in those snagging-reflection times, that we might learn something anew!
– Jesus tells us to rest, but then when other stuff comes up, kind of bails on it?
– Jesus tells his disciples to get in a boat that ends up in a storm, and in the midst of them “straining at the oars” he intends to “pass them by”?
– And then finally…the retreat postponement continues…in Gennesaret it’s back to the clamouring crowds and the disciples just need to “suck it up” and keep on forging ahead.
So…what’s the good news here?
If there’s one verse you can build your life on this week…I’d go with v. 50…
“Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Ah yes…thanks be to God….Jesus echoes the story.
Take heart….. ego eimi [it’s me!]…. Do not be afraid.
But this is more than a casual…it’s me! It echoes the voice of YHWH, in Exodus 3, as Moses stands (shaking in his boots/sandals) before the burning bush and asks… “what shall I say, what shall I do?” … God says “I AM WHO I AM.”
Jesus echoes this life-changing message thousands of years later and that is —
the good news for us…in these lazy, hot, dog days of summer…
Sunscreen and summer vacations do not exempt us from the realities of life…
As the Rich Mullin song goes:
Where you are however grim it may seem
This is real life baby
This ain’t no Hollywood dream
And where you are no matter what you may face
You’re gonna find out real soon what they mean when they say…
— Oh, you’ll meet the Lord in the furnace, long time before you meet him in the sky!
That’s hot & sweaty news…but it’s good news.
We serve a living Saviour! He’s in the world today! He lives!
Unlike the disciples…I don’t think that any of us are running for our lives today…
Thus – – –
Will you come away to a quiet place…for just 1 minute…[1 minute silent retreat!] and allow our living Jesus to enter into whatever peace or chaos that is the story of your life right now?
The good news for all of us today…and for the world…is that God with us.
God is on our side.
God is actively working in the world and in our lives…seeking to help us in the way we most need help.
So let us unashamedly, and unabashedly, bring our messy, complicated and sometimes filled with moments of clarity/more often filled w/ doubt…lives before God and our living, loving Saviour, Jesus.
READ “REST IN THE MOMENT”
[silence, then bell]
Christine Sine meditation/prayer:
REST IN THE MOMENT
Rest in the moment.
Savour its beauty,
Inhale its fragrance,
Listen to its music,
Rest in the moment,
Live not in the regrets of the past,
Or the anxieties of the future.
Be content with what is.
Rest in the moment.
Let the wonder of its gifts,
Open before you,
Like an unfurling flower.
Rest in the moment,
Let go of your distractions,
Learn from your inner chaos,
Create within you
a place of prayer.
~ Christine Sine, www.godspace-msa.com