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Sunday Service 4th February




Caught in the Storm

4/2/23

                    

Call to worship

Hymn 256: May the God of hope 

 

Time for all

 

Hymn 143: Who put the colours in the rainbow

 

Reading:    Luke 8:22-25 Gil

Prayer

 

Hymn 565: My life flows on in endless song

 

Sermon

Prayer of Dedication

 

Hymn 570: When the storms of life are raging

Benediction

 

 

Welcome to our meditation for 4th February.

Sometimes the message we have to give is so simple.

And yet so often we forget it.

Today is a day I expect that no one will think this is an original or world shattering message,

and yet maybe it still has a purpose for us,

sometimes we need to be reminded of the basics,

and today may be one of those days.

But we will think about that after our reading and prayer from Gil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sermon

 

So a couple of weeks ago we had a nasty storm, Storm Isha.

Real storms have a habit of causing chaos in our lives.

You can think you are prepared but a storm comes along and just flings your plans into the air.

And Storm Isha was no exception.

Ferries and trains were cancelled.

One of the more fascinating stories I had heard was that an Easy Jet flight from Edinburgh to Bristol. It got to Bristol and there were 8 planes in the air circling and trying to land, finally it redirected bit to Paris; which was fine except that most of the passengers were on this flight without passports because it was an internal flight and you didn’t need passports.

But because they arrived in Paris they couldn’t leave the airport and had to sleep on the arrivals floor, what was worse there was tension because any flight back to Britain would be regarded as an international flight and they didn’t have passports that would allow them to leave the airport.

 

That what storms do, create chaos.

Even if you are prepared sometimes it does no good.

That storm came just after heavy snow up north.

Between the rain that the storm brought, and the snow melting, many areas where having to cope with flooding.

Even if you had insurance it didn’t stop the damage being created.

Even with the insurance many were going to be starting months of damage repair.

Storms create chaos.

 

So today in our passage we face a storm.

Jesus suggests that all of them go across Lake Galilee.

So they all go in the boat and Jesus falls asleep.

While they are going across a storm starts up, the wind blows and the waves rise and the boat starts to fill with water.

 

The disciples panic and wake up Jesus telling him that they are all going to die.

Jesus in turn then orders the wind and waves and everything calms down.

Then he turns to the disciples and asks, ‘Where is your faith?’

And they in turn question who Jesus is that he controls such power.

 

It is only three verses but there is so much in it.

But the main thing that causes us all problems is that question, ‘Where is your faith?’

 

I think that we struggle with that question because we presume that Jesus is angry with the disciples;

that the very question is a condemnation of the disciples.

So if we presume that Jesus is angry with them, then why was he angry?

 

Was it because they were doubting?

Did he question why they were afraid?

Didn’t they know that everything would be all right?

Maybe, and I admit that this is a bit out there; maybe Jesus is condemning their lack of faith in themselves.

Let’s remember, at least four of the people on the boat were experienced fishermen. They may have struggled with the fear of the inexperienced disciples, but they were used to being on the boat and sudden storms arising.

They could have calmed the others down.

They could have brought the boat into a safe harbour.

They could have helped the others cope with what was going on.

They could have let Jesus sleep for the rest of the journey.

Instead the fishermen seemed to let the fear of the others undermine their own skills and experience.

 

Jesus had faith in them, he was quite happy to fall asleep during the voyage.

Jesus was happy for the fishermen to be in control of the boat and get them to the other side.

Why didn’t the fishermen have the same faith in themselves that Jesus had in them?

 

That is an interesting question that maybe we need to ask ourselves occasionally.

How much of God’s work is not done because we lack faith in ourselves?

How often are we so scared of getting things wrong that we don’t do anything at all?

And it is not because we don’t believe in God; it is because we don’t believe in ourselves.

 

But, as I say, that is a bit out there, and maybe not the message for the majority of the congregation.

 

The more traditional explanation for Jesus being angry with them and asking the question was that the disciples presumption that Jesus was not in control.

They were facing the storm, they were facing destruction, and Jesus didn’t care, he was fast asleep on the boat.

And maybe Jesus is angry because of that presumption...that because they thought Jesus was asleep that they also thought that he didn’t care to help.

Now if ministers want to make their congregations feel guilty then this is a very easy message to give.

Because when we are facing the chaos of storms how often this is the way we feel?

In the panic of the storm we are faced with the immediate, the adrenaline kicks in, and we instinctively react.

Sometimes with flight or fight mode, sometimes with freeze mode.

We get all aggressive and try to force our way through the storm,

or we are terrified and we try to run away from the storm,

or we just freeze, we become numb, and are unable to work out what to do.

 

 

I don’t know how many people I have visited who have been diagnosed with something terrible and life threatening like cancer...and I have seen all these responses;

those that are going to fight it to the very end,

those that are going to pretend that it doesn’t make any difference and they are going to fulfil a four page bucket list,

those that just give up because they didn’t know what to do.

 

Here’s the thing though.

Every single one of those options is OK.

We have no right to condemn someone for how they respond to such terrible news.

We may not like the choices that others make for themselves.

They may not make the same choices we think we would make in the same situation.

But that is their choice to make.

 

So here’s the thing, what if Jesus wasn’t angry at the disciples?

We read this passage and presume that Jesus is attacking the disciples for their lack of faith. But that is a presumption that we put on the text. The passage doesn’t tell us what mood Jesus was in when he said these words.

 

That’s why looking at the bigger context is important..

Here’s my thinking...why would Jesus presume that the disciples had known him long enough to have enough faith in him.

 

They hadn’t been together for that long.

They had never been in a situation like this so how were they to know that Jesus could have sorted it out.

And more than anything else.

When they were struggling their instinct was to go to Jesus.

They may not have known what Jesus could do, but they presumed that Jesus could do something better than they could do.

 

Which is why I am going for the very simple interpretation of this passage.

Which is why this isn’t a ground breaking message but maybe one we need to be reminded of every now and again.

 

So here is the scene as I see it.

The storm arises suddenly, the waves rise and start to flood the boat.

The non fishermen start to panic.

Maybe the fishermen begin to realise that they are out their depth and this is beyond their skill set.

They wake up Jesus and he calms the storm.

Then he turns to the disciples and says, not to attack them but to get them to focus on this teaching moment so that they don’t forget,

‘Where is your faith at this time?

Where did you turn to when things got too rough?’

 

Because Jesus knows that this is not the last storm that they will face.

This is not even the worst storm that they will face.

And Jesus wants them to remember this moment, this moment that they put their faith in him, and he was there to help.

They don’t need to panic,

they don’t need to fight,

they don’t need to pretend there is no storm,

they can come to him, they can always come to him,

and even though they initially think he isn’t available and that he doesn’t care,

they need to remember this moment that that he is always available, that he always cares.

 

I think that is the message that most of us need to hear, especially as we face whatever storms hit us in life.

We don’t need to panic,

we don’t need to fight,

we don’t need to pretend there is no storm,

we can come to Jesus, we can always come to Jesus,

and even though we initially think he isn’t available and that he doesn’t care,

we need to remember this moment that that he is always available, that he always cares.

 

So here is my question...

Where has your faith been?

 

When the storms hit, and they will hit, where has your faith been in the past?

Because if your faith in Jesus has gotten you this far,

then maybe you can trust that your faith in Christ will help you through this storm.

 

Just a thought.

 

 

 

Let us pray

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heavenly Father

We are wary of the storms that come.

And it doesn’t matter if the storms come without warning and catch us completely unawares, or whether like the red sky that comes with early morning where are some it doesn’t matter if it is the unexpected diagnosis, or police bringing bad news,

or if it is a storm that slowly grows into a tempest, like falling into debt.

 

We know what it is like to be caught in the storm,

emotions running high, feeling helpless, often feeling isolated and facing it alone.

 

And we know what it is like to be caught in the middle of the storm,

two weeks, could be two months, or maybe two years..or sometimes it just feels like eternity.

 

And there it is, wearing us away, draining our strength, crushing our resolve.

 

Maybe it takes the storm to draw nearer to You.

Maybe it takes the storm to remind us that we are not alone, that you are with us to hear that quiet voice within:

“Peace, be still.”

 

In this life we face raging waters,

but hope for days of clear sky and calm sea.

In this life we face challenges and problems that drive fear into our hearts,

and yet we persist in our hope of better days to come.

In this life we are forced out of our comfort and thrown into turbulent currants,

but strive for days of peace.

 

This life is sometimes difficult, gracious God,

but we live in hope,

and we continue to pray that your constant presence be known to us.

Amaze us with your power,

still our fears,

heal our bodies,

and enliven our hearts.

In the raging waters of life,

through faith and doubt,

be with us loving God,

always.

Amen.

 

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