Sunday Sermie: He Brings Peace

Today's sermon: He Brings Peace

Primary readings:

Isaiah 65: 17-25

Mark 4:35-41

Today's gospel lesson is about a big storm on the sea. There are such big storms in this life.

There are literal storms – like the typhoon in the Philippines or the giant snowstorm last May. There are also the storms of our own personal lives.

A person need only sit in a coffee shop, hair salon, or medical waiting room for a little while. Listen closely and you'll hear the real-life stories or real-life people going through real-life storms. Medical diagnoses. Chronic pain. Troubled relationships. There are large storms and small storms - and they impact us all, regardless of age or gender or economic status.

There can be such chaos at times that we feel a lot like the disciples in the boat, pleading for some help. It's easy to identify with those disciples. They were out on the sea with Jesus - a huge storm started churning the sea - and Jesus was nowhere to be found. Actually, he was asleep! On a pillow!

They were confused, panicked, and overwhelmed. They just wanted a little help! "Don't you see that we are perishing" they ask. We can understand those emotions. Sometimes we, too, just want a little help in the storm.

There's a movie that depicts that chaos of a major storm. The film is called “Life of Pi” – I saw the movie a few months back. Amazing visuals.

Toward the beginning of the movie, there's a big storm. Pi and his family are all on a big boat - they were relocating from India to Canada. They had owned a zoo and all the animals were caged in the bottom of the boat.

In the middle of the night, the winds begin to churn the ocean. Rain poured from the sky.

The storm eventually sinks the boat. It was total chaos – animals everywhere, waves as high as can be.

When all is said and done - the storms stops. And Pi and a few of the animals are the only survivors.

Pi knew the chaos of a storm – not only the storm on the sea – but also the storm in his life. Everything he had ever known was turned upside down. We may not experience that exact circumstance. But we all know the reality of life's storms.

In our gospel, after he calms the storm, Jesus says, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”

I don't think he is asking those questions in a condemning way. I think he's really trying to understand the disciples. Today's lesson takes place pretty early on the Gospel of Mark. Jesus is beginning to realize that the journey of faith for the disciples is not necessarily going to be an easy one. Jesus wants the disciples to know that they can trust him. But he's realizing that it may be a struggle for them at times.

Jesus is NOT saying that faith will prevent storms in life. Faith alone doesn’t keep us in a protective bubble that keeps out any hurt or sadness or pain. Instead, faith – which is a gift from the Holy Spirit, not something we earn or work hard enough for – is trust in the promise that whatever is happening in our boat, Jesus is in it and not leaving.

Jesus is in every boat.
Jesus is in every storm.

Somehow, the mere promise that we’re not alone – that someone knows exactly what we’re experiencing – exactly what we’re feeling – helps; it really does. It gives us hope.

Our reading from Isaiah 65 is a passage about hope. We don't often have the opportunity to speak about Isaiah during worship. It's a really valuable, meaningful book of the Old Testament. It was written for a people who were going through a major storm! They had lost everything. People were in captivity. People were LONGING to know that God was still with them, but they felt like they had been forgotten. The people were losing hope. And the Prophet Isaiah gives them an image of a future that would be better.

In the New Testament, this is described as the "kingdom of God" and "kingdom of heaven." It is what we will experience in eternity.

It will be a place of peace. All the broken places will be mended.The wolf and lamb will play together. There will be no more hurt. Before we even call, God says He will answer. This kingdom if something we get to see in part – but not in whole until eternity.

We catch glimmers, though. And they can be a source of hope for us in the middle of the storms of this life. Even this morning at worship - we have seen glimpses of the kingdom.

In our J.A.M Singers who sang so wonderfully this morning! Kids singing "This Little Light of Mine" - what a great light their singing was to all of us.

In the teens and pre-teens of our congregation who shared a skit today. They have been practicing that skit A LOT to have it ready to share - to remind us all of us about gratitude and thanksgiving to God.

In our Thursday morning Bible Study group who is now staying an hour extra to pack backpacks with food for families who need it.

In thousands of relief workers going right into total chaos in order to serve and help those in need in Philippines.

In the midst of the storms of this life, we catch glimpses of God's kingdom. And they are a source of hope to us all.

There are storms. There will be storms. Jesus says, we don’t need to be afraid. Because whatever we face, we’re never going to face it alone.

In the week ahead, may you hold those words of Jesus close to your hearts. The words he spoke to the sea. “Peace! Be still!”

May you think of them in moments of chaos in the morning when you're trying to get the kids ready. Peace. Be still.

May you hold them close as you fall asleep at night and your mind is racing with worries. Peace. Be still.

May you think of them at the doctors office before or after a challenging bit of news. Peace. Be still.

We can have peace, We can find stillness. Because whatever the boat, whatever the storm - Jesus promises to be with us. Thanks be to God.

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