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240623 Pentecost 5B 1 Samuel 17.32–49, Ps 133, 2 Cor. 6.1–13, Mark 4.35–41

+ In the name of God, Source of all being, Eternal Word and Holy Spirit. Amen

In the story of Mark’s Jesus, which is strongly influenced by Jewish apocalyptic thinking, Jesus’ identity is the key.  It is often remarked that the Jesus of this Gospel is presented as very human.  Jesus is reluctant to enter the desert after his baptism and has to be driven by the Spirit. (Mark 1:12) and later when he is facing crucifixion, he is reluctant to take up the suffering and prays in anguish for it to be taken from him, struggling with his own message of the kingdom (Mark 14:32-36 and he dies with a sense of being abandoned by God when he cries “My God, Why have you forsaken me” (Mark 15:34)

of the area around the Reading the gospel story for today we look at the geography sea of Galilee which is just over 200 metres below sea level in some places and is surrounded by hills.  It is a beautiful sight to stand on the edge of the lake and look across to the mighty hills surrounding the basin shaped land. Winds blowing across the land intensify close to the sea, often causing violent and unexpected storms.   The disciples were seasoned fishers who had spent their lives fishing on this huge lake, but during this squall they panicked.  The storm threatened to destroy them all and Jesus seemed unaware and unconcerned about the danger. Jesus was obviously exhausted and was often seen to be taking time out whenever he could during his ministry.  Crowds were demanding his time, his healing, and his blessing.  Jesus in his humanity must have felt the weight of these demands and slept the deep sleep he needed for refreshment. This was a physical storm, but storms come in other forms.  Think about the storms in our lives – the situations that cause us great anxiety.  Whatever our difficulty we have two options.                                           

We can worry and think that Jesus does not care about our problems, or we can resist anxiety and fear, and put our trust in God.  When we feel like panicking, can we acknowledge our need for God and trust him to care for us?  Jesus did not let any harm come to the disciples in the storm once again demonstrating his love and care for them.                                      There is much symbolism in this story as well as the facts that point us to seeing Jesus as divine.  The disciples are in a boat with Jesus in a storm.  This boat can be a symbol of the Church making its way through unruly and at times dangerous territory. And if we look up at the roof of our Cathedral its structure clearly resembles the framework of a wooden boat. We, the disciples can be panicked into thinking that Jesus is asleep and that we will be swamped.  The point of this story is to assure us that trust in God, of the kind that can sleep through a storm is what we need in reality. It shows us that Jesus loves his people and cares for them.  It also shows us that even if our trust is weak, Jesus will always answer our cry for help and our prayers.                                                                           

Even though the disciples lived with Jesus, travelling the countryside with him, they underestimated him.  They did not see that his power applied to their own situation.  Jesus has been with his people for many centuries and yet, we, like the disciples, underestimate his power to manage crisis in our lives.  The disciples did not yet know enough about Jesus.  We cannot make the same excuse. 

Jesus turned the disciples panic into a positive outcome – He showed them once again who he was.  He showed them his divinity and creative power, reminding them and us of God’s work of creation as forming order out of chaos. People were already asking questions about the teaching of Jesus and his saving mission.  There are questions about what Jesus does,or says, others are about why he or his disciples, do something. The result is that the disciples again, start asking questions.  They have crossed to the other side of the lake into new territory.  They are shocked into asking   Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”  The disciples’ question is at the very identity of Jesus because he has control of some of the most formidable forces in creation - the wind and the sea.  Mark is pointing us in the direction of Jesus and his divine status. The Disciples knew the story of Jesus’ baptism and how the Spirit of God in the form of a dove came upon him and the voice of God announced who he was. They had already seen Jesus’ healing power and his power over death in raising people who had died, but now Jesus has shown his power over death-dealing forces, the forces of nature, so that the disciples see it as a matter of their own life and death and they can no longer remain spectators.  They are having an important lesson in trust.

How do we learn to trust God?  While David was still a young man, although anointed by Samuel, he was not yet king; but he was learning some important precepts.  The Israelites were frightened of the giant Philistine army that made fun of the inexperience and stature of David. Criticism did not stop David.  While the rest of the army stood around, he knew the importance of taking action.  With God to fight for him, there was no reason to wait and every reason to trust God. Can we learn as David did, that people may try to discourage us with negative comments, but can we continue to trust God and do what we know is right?  By doing what is right we will be pleasing God, whose opinion matters the most.

Mark is pointing us to more precepts that can be learned, just as the youthful David learned to trust God in his time, so Mark has shown us this Jesus who can also be trusted to save his friends in a storm.

We discover he is fulfilling the prophecies about the messiah, and then we find that the one who calms the storm may be he.  Can there ever be one single answer to the question “Who is Jesus?”  

As we begin to live out our life and look forward even now as a faith community with the history of 140 years and the future ahead of us, can we reach out in trust and faith to new ways of living in the kingdom of God.  Today as Eva is baptised, she also has a life to live, blessed as a disciple of Christ and as one who has received the gift of God’s holy spirit to guide and sustain her.

God our creator is always making things new and creating and renewing his creation.  Can we all begin to think as new creations, new ways of looking at our world and our reason for being here?  This will take us beyond the questions and enable us to form something of an answer. We will know who Jesus is, and we will know how to survive the storms of our lives and the answer is always unfolding and it amounts to trust.


The Reverend Canon Camellia Flanagan tssf                                                                                                                                                   Canon Pastor Christ Church Cathedral Grafton.

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