June 21, 2015

'As the Pacific Sea'

But 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?” 
—Mark 4:38

Introduction: Asleep in the Back

Today’s gospel reading is both familiar and a bit unexpected. It’s familiar because we all know that there’s a story in the Bible that tells us that Jesus calmed the sea. In case we’re apt to forget, there’s a popular old song to remind us:

Put your hand in the hand of the Man who stilled the waters. Put your hand in the hand of the Man who calmed the sea. [1]

And in our church, we’re also blessed to have a portrayal of this story in one of our stained glass windows—one of my favorites. put your hand in the hand

Calming of the Tempest window,
Congregational Church of La Jolla
But the story is also unexpected—maybe even a bit foreign. No matter how familiar you are with the Bible, it’s always a jolt to read about Jesus’ reaction to the storm.

We can easily relate to how the disciples reacted. They were scared. To be caught in a sudden storm on the water is never a pleasant experience. But this was two thousand years ago, and these were very poor men. And that’s really all we need to know if we’re wondering how sturdy their boat was. Doubtless it was pretty small and pretty rickety—not the sort of vessel you’d trust to withstand crashing waves, high winds, and the possibility of getting tossed against a rock.

But Jesus? Jesus was asleep in the back of the boat.