Sermons 2006
"Storms, Fear, and Faith" Proper 7B, 25 June 2006, Mark 4:35-41

Home | "Light and Darkness", Christmas 2C, 31 December 2006, John 1:1-18 | Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2006 | "What then shall we do?", Advent 3C , 17 December 2006, Luke 3:7-18 | "Luke's Gospel", Advent 1C, 3 Dec 2006, Luke 21:25-31 | Which Jesus? Proper 29B 2006, 26 November 2006, John 18:33-37 | Apocalypticism and Fundamentalism, Proper 28B, 19 Nov 2006, Daniel12; Mark 13:14-23 | "The Widow's Mite: All and Everything", Proper 27B, 12 November 2006, Mark 12:38-44 | "The Commandments to love God, Neighbor, One Another" Proper 26B, 5 November 2006, Mark 12:28-34 | "Sight -- and Seeing" Proper 25B, 29 October 2006, Mark 10:46-52 | "Baptism: Overwhelming Washing", Proper 24B, 22 October 2006 Mark 10:35-45 | "God's Transforming Love", Proper 23B, 15 October 2006, Mark 10:17-31 | "Divorce", Proper 22B, 8 February 2006, Mark 10: 2-9 | "Hard Sayings and Sharp Words", Proper 21B, 1 October 2006, Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48 | "First or Last?" Proper 20B, 24 September 2006, Mark 9:30-37 | "Unintended Consequences", Proper 19B, 17 September 2006, Mark 8:27-38 | "Ephphatha! Open up!" Proper 18B, 10 September 2006, Mark 7:31-37 | "Rituals", Proper 17B, 3 September 2006, Deuteronomy 4:1-9; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 | "Choices." Proper 16B, 30 August 2006, Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-25; John 6:60-69 | "Come to the Table." Proper 15B, 20 August 2006, John 6:53-59 | "Do not be afraid." Proper 12B, 30 July 2006, Mark6:45-52 | "General Convention and Jesus' Compassion", Proper 11B, 23 July 2006, Mark 6: 30-44 | "Basics for the Journey", Proper 10B, 16 July 2006, Mark 6:7-13 | "Jesus and Rejection", Proper 9B, 9 July 2006, Mark 6:1-6 | "Trust, Faith, and Belief" Proper 8B, 2 July 2006, Mark 5:22-43 | "Storms, Fear, and Faith" Proper 7B, 25 June 2006, Mark 4:35-41 | Mighty things from Small, Proper 6B, 18 June 2006, Mark 4:26-34 | Trinity, Pentecost 1, 11 June 2006, Exodus 3:1-6; John 3:1-16 | The King Jesus Fire-Baptized Holy Spirit Church, Pentecost , 4 June, Acts 2:1-11; Jn 20:19-23 | "That they may be one" General Convention 2006, Easter 7B 28 May 2006, John 5:9-15 | "Friends, friendship, and love" Easter 6B, 21 May 2006, John 15:9-17 | Mother's Day, two mothers' love!" Easter 5B, 14 April 2006, John 14:15-21 | "Interesting, this Good Shepherd!" Easter 4B, 7 May 2006, John 10:11-16 | "How do you prove you are alive?", Easter 3B, 30 April 2006, Luke 24:36b-48 | "Do you believe because...." Easter 2B, 23 April 2006, John 20:19-31 | "He goes before you to Galilee...." Easter B 2006, 16 April, Mark 16:1-8 | "Journey into darkness", Palm Sunday B, 9 April 2006. Mark 11:1-11, 14:32-15:47 | "Sir, we would see Jesus!" Lent 5B, 2 April 2006, John 12:20-33 | "Miracles and Faith, Ordinary and Not", Lent 4B 2006, 26 March 2006, John 6:4-15 | "Rage, Rampage, and Outrage", Lent 3B, 19 March 2006, John 2: 13-22 | "Images of the Cross", Lent 2B, 12 March 2006, Mark 8:31-38 | "Baptism, Temptation, Redemption," Lent 1B, 5 March 2005, Mark 1:9-13 | Ash Wednesday , 1 March 2006, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 | ""Nanny McPhee' and transfiguration", Epiphany Last B, Mark 9:2-9 | "Jesus, leprosy, and the law of Moses", Epiphany 6B, 12 February 2006, Mark 1:40-45 | "Healing, wholeness, forgiveness, and love", Epiphany 5B, 5 February 2006, Mark 1:29-39 | "Haints, Unclean spirits, and demons" Epiphany 4B, 22 January 2006, Mark 1:21-28 | Epiphany 3B, 22 January 2006, "God's Call -- and Our Response", Mark 1:14-20 | Epiphany 2B, 15 January 2006, "Call and Response", John 1:43-51 | Epiphany 1B, 8 January 2006, "The Baptism of our Lord -- and Ours", Mark 1:7-11 | The Holy Name, 1 January 2006, Luke 2: 15-21

Proper 7B 2006 Mark 4:35-41

When the early Christians tried to describe what it was like to be a Christian and to be a member of the church, they said it was like being on a ship with Christ and trying to cope with the wind and waves with which they were so often being buffeted. There was no story in the New Testament that seemed more descriptive of their own experience than this story in our gospel lesson for today.

And, so it was that the ship became the most prominent symbol for the church in Christian art and architecture. In fact, the area where the congregation gathers, the area between the bow, where the altar is located, and the stern, where worshipers enter, is called the “nave,” which is the Latin word for “ship.” (1)

Among many other symbols, such as the fish logo, the early Christians adopted a simple drawing of a sail boat with a cross for a mast as the symbol of the church. In an age of persecutions from the outside and controversy and conflict on the inside the fledgling church seemed like a boat on a storm-tossed sea. Hearing the story of Jesus' calming of the sea, like those first disciples in the boat, the early Christians must have joined in their desperate prayer, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" (2)

As the first of the weekend thunderstorms swept toward and over us Thursday night, I looked around at the other seven boats anchored nearby and wondered if our anchors would hold. I remembered our last sail of last year when we were anchored in the same place among a number of boats.

On that particular night -- it was about 3AM when a great windstorm arose and wind and waves beat furiously against the boat. A heavy downpour obscured the anchoring lights of most of the other boats, but the frequent flashes of lightning showed them to us in jerky staccato fashion.

Our new guaranteed to hold a boat our size anchor dragged in the face of this fury and we found ourselves nearly aground before we got the engine started and moved forward to take the pressure off the anchor line. Clad only in undershorts and tee shirt – a sight to behold – I hauled in the anchor as Pauli at the tiller held the boat steady in the wind. Fortunately we had worked out a rudimentary set of hand and arm signals -- my shouted directions could not be heard above the roar of wind and wave and thunder.

We fought the storm for about an hour, dodging the other boats, all of whose anchors had not held. I was too busy to be afraid. But my skimpy clothing was soaked by heavy rain and spray and I was in some danger of hypothermia, cold trembling as I was. Eventually we added more chain and put down a heavier anchor and clawed our way over to a better bottom and held. The boat nearest us was still adrift and headed our way – we had nowhere else to go – when the storm suddenly ceased. For which I said an all too brief thanksgiving. I changed into dry clothes, crawled into my bunk and immediately went to sleep much to Pauli’s amazement – her adrenalin level was still high. She wasn’t able to get back to sleep at all during the rest of the night.

The very next day I went back to West Marine, new anchor in hand and traded it for a much larger one. And before we went out this year, I added 50 more feet of anchor chain to the rode. This week, when that first thunderstorm swept over us, the anchor held firmly. Of course, this storm was not half so fierce as the one the year before.

It is an interesting question, that of the relationship between fear and faith. While fighting the storm last year, like the disciples, I guess I didn’t think too much about faith although I do remember praying several times, “O Lord do please see us safely through this night.” I think it was pretty close to the business of praying as if everything depended on God but work as if everything depended on us. I was praying hard – but hauling anchor line as though everything depended on us.

I was also reminded of a prayer that came from one of the fighters on a battlefield on one of England’s civil wars: “O Lord, I shall be busy this day. If I forget thee, pray do not thou forget me.” I carried that prayer written on a scrap of paper with me through most of time during my first Vietnam tour until it simply dissolved, rotted away in the jungle climate of the wet monsoon season. The modern version is “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.”

The Sea of Galilee lies on an ancient trade route that linked Egypt with Syria and Mesopotamia. In Jesus’ time, people from all over the Roman world would have passed through the area on their way to other parts of the known world. Jesus and his disciples crossed its waters many times as they traveled through the region.
The Sea of Galilee is thirteen miles long and eight miles. Its unique geography—a low-lying area surrounded by hills—is prone to sudden and sometimes violent storms. The only constant on the lake is its changing weather. The fishermen, Peter, James, John, and Andrew, knew this unpredictable weather, including violent storms, and how to handle it. That they panic and wake Jesus up from what was probably a much-needed nap shows that this particular storm was extraordinarily severe. (3)

One can almost imagine that they had been bailing as hard as they could but their boat was till being swamped. And there was their leader, Jesus, snoring away on a cushion in the stern, stretched out as if there were nothing going on. They weren’t going to sit still for this. He had to pitch in and help. So they woke him up: “Do you not care that we are perishing?”

Haven’t you often wondered what Jesus must have thought many times when he saw his disciples bumbling and stumbling through life, still not getting it? Here they were, many of them lifelong commercial fishermen, veterans of many years on the water in good weather and foul. And they come running to him like little children afraid of things that go bump in the night.

But maybe they did have faith. We can be too hard on the disciples. At their wit’s end and losing strength, they turned to Jesus. Not a bad idea. I’ve seen this happen many times in foxholes and among cancer patients. And it makes a difference in some significant ways, even if they don’t survive.

“Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” Jesus asks. Because we are human, we struggle with our fears and face quiet or not so quiet desperation at times, just as the disciples did. And there are times when all we have left is faith. And that is enough in the end.

1. Related in J. Harold McKeithen, Jr, “In the boat with Jesus, SermonMall for June 25, 2006.
2. Selected Sermons for Proper 7B 2003,
3. Selected Sermons for Proper 7B 2006,

Wicomico Parish Church
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Wicomico Church, Virginia 22579