Gillian’s sermon 20th June

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

I’m fond of this reading today, not least because it takes me back to where I grew up.  As you’ll have gathered by now, I’m not originally ‘from round here’!  

Where I grew up was on the West Coast of Scotland, on the River Clyde – very beautiful, with views across the water to Ben Lomond in the distance, Dunoon, and a bit further down, the Isle of Arran.  

The church I went to as a child, and where Scott and I got married nearly 24 years ago was built in 1591 and as the shipbuilding industry in Greenock grew, it began to swamp the church, so much so that in 1928 the church was moved brick by brick a couple of miles down the road to right by the river.    

It had many nods to shipping, with the Sailors Loft and Seaman’s Gallery. Memorials to those lost at sea, those captaining the ships.  

So I do like stories about the  sea and water…   

After a day of teaching, to get some space and some peace Jesus took the disciples out on the Sea of Galilee and began to cross to the other side.  Jesus fell asleep.  But a storm took them by surprise (although apparently it’s not that unusual on the Sea of Galilee).  They feared for their lives.  They were tossed about by the waves and wind, and suddenly everything seemed up in the air and they were at the mercy of the power of the storm.  

Waves lashed over the sides, sails battered, disciples seasick, and a feeling of darkness and fear everywhere.  

They woke Jesus asking him if he didn’t care that they were perishing.  

Jesus calmed the storm, rebuked the winds and waves saying ‘peace, be still’, and the adrenalin of the disciples dropped.  And Jesus asked them ‘have you NO faith?’ 

Such is the power seen through Jesus in his calming of the storm that the disciples wondered who this is that could have such power over the wind and the waves.  They saw God’s power in action, power and peace. 

We know all about storms at the moment.  These last 18 months haven’t been plain sailing.  We’ve been physically or metaphorically tossed about by the wind and the waves of life.  Young or old, fit or physically vulnerable, we’ve all experienced the unpredictability of life in different ways, all of which have changed our lives.  

For some the storms have been all-consuming, caught in the whirlwind of caring and keeping going focussing on the needs of others, of shielding or protecting.  Others have been caught in all consuming loneliness or grief and mental torment.

 

In times of trial, in the storms of life, it’s very easy to panic, to lose our track, to become unfocussed or detached.  

This passage reminds us we are not alone in the trials and difficulties of life.  We do not walk or sail alone.  

In fact, at risk of pushing the boat out with analogies, far from being alone in the storms, Jesus is with us in the storms.  He rides the waves and sits in the storms with us.  

I wonder if it’s worth thinking about this a bit more. Sometimes we need to step beyond our comfort zones.  Sometimes we need to move beyond the harbour, test the waves and go where called even if the waves are a bit more choppy.  It’s in those moments we can grow in confidence and faith in our relationship with Jesus and others.  

Maybe we need to be like the disciples were when they were first called, and step off dry land, into the boat and see where it takes us.  It may steer us away from the safety of the harbour, but through God’s power and love, we will navigate new and we pray, productive and fruitful new pastures for the kingdom of God.  

Today, let’s trust that wherever we are in life, and whatever storms of life may be raging or whimpering around us,  Jesus is right in the midst, giving us strength, and holding us firm with his love.

Amen

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