This sermon is written (original!) is my ‘other voice’ – the scary and mysterious voice I often use for telling Gospel stories to young people. I think this will work best when preached without notes, so I have classified this text as “Notes” rather than a full text as I will be trying to learn it in order to deliver it fluidly. This homily will be given at Holy Trinity Church in Gosport on Sunday.
Text: Mark 4:35-41
In the name of the +Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Lake Galilee is surrounded by mountains: warm air rising from the water, cool air descending from the mountain – sudden and violent storms ensue.
What began as a normal boat trip turned into a terrifying nightmare. Even the experienced fishermen on board must have found it hard to manage, and for the tax-collectors, the zealots and the other urban disciples, it must have looked like the end.
Fear. Terror. Adrenaline.
And Jesus sleeps through it.
They drag him awake and with a couple of words – violent storm becomes calm.
And the terror associated with fear for one’s life is replaced by a much deeper, more profound fear of Jesus himself.
For who can this be, that even the wind and the waves obey him?
Our text today calls us further into the mystery of who exactly is this Jesus in our midst? What is the significance of this man, who goes far, far beyond a decent bit of moral teaching given with an unusual degree of authority; it goes far beyond a couple of healings or the challenging of old, dusty texts with new insight which tastes like the freshest of new wines, when all you have had for decades is stale and musty.
They start to see him as the Christ, the anointed one of God, the Son of God himself.
God. In our midst. What a terrifying thought.
Previously, the God who was inaccessible, remote, omnipotent and therefore very very scary is replaced by one in your very midst. Two thousand years of the incarnation have, I suspect, inured us to this terrifying prospect.
And yet, the word of God, when spoken is calm and gentle: “Quiet now. Be calm”. God-with-us “Emmanuel” speaks gently and asks us to have faith in him. He does not demand it, or force it out of us, but gently… Be calm.
When the storms of this life blow over us, when the waves of hurt and upset and disappointment threaten to engulf us, we can either run around and panic, or we can turn to the one who is with us – always – even to the end of time and hear his gentle, calming words.
Who is he, that the wind and the waves obey him?
He must be the Christ.