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08.26.18 God’s Strength and Ours Mark 4.35-41 Sermon Summary

by on August 27, 2018

We have two “Hymns of Faith (Presbyterian Church)” that complement one another as we near the end of our summer series. I want to organize our thoughts around three movements: Storm, Remembrance, and Response.

Why did the disciples wake Jesus up as he slept during the storm on the lake? Perhaps they were resentful that they were dealing with it and he wasn’t. Or maybe they wanted solidarity. They did say to him, “Don’t you care?” Or maybe they were simply fearful, for they also said they were perishing.

We also have storms in our lives. Sometimes they are literal storms like experiencing turbulence on a flight or driving through rain and hail. Sometimes the storms are figurative. The hymn “It is well with My Soul” recognizes that sometimes “sorrows like sea billows roll.” Our storms may be spiritual storms, storms of emotions, or storms of disorientation.

Change often brings about storms. The hymn “Be Still my Soul” laments the “grief and pain” brought about by change, as well as “disappointment, fear, sorrow, and tears.”

During whatever kinds of storms—literal or figurative—we don’t want Jesus just sleeping! Like the disciples, we wake him up.

Why did they wake him up? I think it was less resentment, solidarity, or fear, and more that they did not remember. The testimony of Psalm 107 rehearses several instances of divine deliverance, including one in which sailors find themselves in a storm on the sea. “They mounted up to heaven, they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their calamity; they reeled and staggered like drunkards” it says. But each time God delivers the people.

Jesus reminded them of this truth, that God is with us in the storms and will deliver us. He reminded them not in words but in action. God is our faithful friend through every kind of storm. The hymn says, “Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know his voice who ruled them while he dwelt below; thy best, thy heavenly Friend through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.” The other hymn says “Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul.”

This is what the disciples forgot. They woke Jesus up because they didn’t remember God’s presence and deliverance. Jesus reminded them, as does Psalm 107, as does all Scripture, as do our two hymns, that past performance does guarantee future results. God delivered in the past; God delivers still.

But so what? When during the storm we remember God’s presence and deliverance, what are we to do in response? What are we to do, “When disappointment, grief and fear are gone, sorrow forgot, and love’s purest joys are restored”? Because deliverance itself is also disruptive.

Here we thought we were alone. We thought we were going to die. Then we remember that we are not alone. We remember that God delivers us. What now that “peace like a river attendeth our way”?

Jesus understands that deliverance is disruptive. When peace and calm are restored to the disciples on the boat Jesus says not Why WERE you afraid, but Why ARE you afraid? Yes there are storms, and yes God is present and delivers through them. NOW what are we going to do? The hymn envisions a final deliverance when, “The Lord shall descend.” “EVEN SO,” it says, “it is well with my soul.” Because deliverance is disruptive.

What to do? The first thing the disciples did was worship. They “were filled with great awe.” It’s a good start just to rest into God’s presence and deliverance during and after the storms.

Another response is thanksgiving. Psalm 107 invites the delivered to, “thank the LORD for his steadfast love.” This is why we celebrate the Eucharist every week in worship. Here today Jesus reminds us, again not so much in words but in action, that God is present and delivers us.

If you continue reading in Mark, you’ll find that after worship and thanksgiving, Jesus leads the disciples to a third response by working for the deliverance of others.

So let the storms come. Let us remember God is with us and God delivers us. Let us worship God with thanksgiving and with working towards others’ deliverance. For the time is coming when, “All safe and blessed, we shall meet at last.” For indeed, “It is well with our souls.”

 

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