2018-07-01 – Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato
It’s July 1 and we’re on a boat with Jesus! Hooray!
The cool breeze in our hair, fresh scent of the sea of galilee filling our nostrils,
Fleeing from a clamouring mob of people on the shoreline who are wanting our Lord to keep on healing, casting out evil spirits, standing up to the religious bullies who oppress us…
Ahhhhhhhhh. Retreat day on the lake ! ?
Jesus has just talked all day about the Kingdom of God…and if you were with us 2 weeks ago you heard us listening in on Jesus’ stories about the way of God in the world…
And Jesus is taking this automate way to heart….the kingdom of God grows even while the ‘son of God’ sleeps!
Jesus in the stern…the back of the boat, protected from the splashing waves… “asleep on a cushion.”
And as is prone to happen on this 3-mile trek across the sea of galilee, a storm breaks out. These storms are bad enough in the day, but at night they can be viciously ominous and unnerving.
The winds howl, huge swells swirl and their small 14-person boat is pummelled and pelleted by sheets of rain.
The soaked-to-the-skin disciples struggle and strain as they try to keep the boat from toppling.
Peter has an idea!
“Teacher!” he cries out…scambling to the back of the boat, shaking him from his deep slumber.
“Do you not care that we are perishing?”
Jesus opens his eyes, get his bearings and stares into the storm…
The howling turns to a whisper… the shushing winds seem to murmur… “Peace…Be Still.”
The wide-eyed disciples…with wet and wind-burned skin…soaked garments & wobbly knees…fall face-down before their teacher.
For a moment…they breathe a sigh of relief…but the relief gives way to a mixture of confusion and terror…
“Who is this? What have we got ourselves into?” They wonder…
Jesus, moves on from rebuking the wind and the waves, and gently tears a strip off of his disbelieving disciples.
“Why are afraid?”
“Have you still no faith?”
The disciples, like the waves, are dead silent.
They look at each other and are stupefied by what they’ve seen.
They whisper amongst themselves…
“Who is this? Even the wind and the sea obey him?”
* * * * * * * * *
So…maybe…on a boat with Jesus, might not be what the disciples (or we?) expect it to be…
But Christian history tells us that being in the boat with Jesus has long been a symbol of the church…the community of faith…and even here at FBC you’ve heard some of us ministry leaders talk about the symbolic nature of our sanctuary (ark) being a haven for followers of Jesus…week after week, in this place and space of worship and refuge. Forging ahead through the waves of time, being the people of God, [125 years!] worshipping God and serving God in this time and in this place…it’s good stuff!
So, let’s not be too quick to trade in our oar for a walking stick. [seeking safe, stable ground]
And for those of you who get sea-sick really quick…the boat might not be a happy image for you…but historically, we’re kind of stuck with it!
Thus – – what might be the good news for FBC ‘boaters’ in the 21st century?
Well, I’d like to suggest that there’s a 2-fold message for us:
1) Jesus sleeps…
and trusts us @ the helm…pressing forward in the journey, with our energies/efforts…
One has to wonder how Jesus slept as this storm crashed and thundered upon the waters of Galillee. Some commentators point out that it really highlights the human-ness of Jesus. Jesus got tired…dog tired! He wasn’t a superhero…he was human…just like us! So … Jesus sleeps…. He doesn’t put on a brave, machismo face and tell his disciples “I’ll take care of it, don’t worry about me!”… instead he heads to the back of the boat and falls into a deep slumber. Trusting that the “way of God in the world” will go forth even as he catches some shut eye…he entrusts the work of journeying forth in the hands of his “wet behind the ears” disciples!
That’s good news for us, right? I don’t think we have Jesus giving us instructions at every turn (do you?) and instead, we believe that Jesus entrusts us with establishing God’s kingdom / God’s dream / reign “here on earth as it is in heaven.”
Jesus doesn’t ignore us…but he doesn’t “helicopter Lord us”…he trusts us!
But…a second good news (splash) for us is that ….
2) Jesus WAKES!
Thanks be to God…that Jesus wakes!
When the world around us is howling, and our lives and our travelling vessels feel like they are on the brink of a disastrous upheaval…Jesus wakes!
And not only does he wake… he rebukes.
To the forces of darkness, chaos and evil that loom in the world, Jesus is the one who rebukes…and it is in Jesus’ name that we, too, are to claim and rebuke and push back the forces of darkness.
And Jesus calms.
He says: “peace be still” to rising waves and trembling hearts.
With a word…he calms the seas.
As we heard from Psalm 29…the voice of the Lord is over the waters…
The voice of the Lord is powerful…
The Lord gives strength to his people…the Lord blesses his people with PEACE.
On this holiday Sunday (and the week ahead)…how, then, shall we live alongside our sleeping & waking Saviour?
There’s work to be done…Jesus is NOT going to do everything for us! He trusts us to do good work in the world!
But…we’re not alone…Jesus, the son of God, is in the boat with us…today in this sanctuary with us…today at the table with us…feeding us with his presence with bread and cup…
So, FBC boaters…
Paddlers for the journey of faith and blessing…
Let us go…
And let us row…
Joining Jesus as he pushes back chaos and darkness,
Joining Jesus as he pronounces and embodies peace to the world.