This blog offers a meditation on the Common Lectionary daily readings along with a headline from world news:
157 rescued from sunk refugee boat off Indonesia
J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)
Jesus shows himself master of natural forces
35 On the evening of that day, he said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.”
36-38 So they sent the crowd home and took him with them in the little boat in which he had been sitting, accompanied by other small craft. Then came a violent squall of wind which drove the waves aboard the boat until it was almost swamped. Jesus was in the stern asleep on the cushion. They awoke him with the words, “Master, don’t you care that we’re drowning?”
39 And he woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the waves, “Hush now! Be still!” The wind dropped and everything was very still.
40 “Why are you so frightened? What has happened to your faith?! he asked them.
41 But sheer awe swept over them and they kept saying to each other, “Who ever can he be?—even the wind and the waves do what he tells them!
Of course this narrative is not intended as a piece of realistic reportage: it is, if you like, a dream sequence in which the disciples set off to the other side, the kingdom of God. They encounter a storm, the opposing power of evil. Jesus is asleep, he has been crucified. He awakes, he is resurrected, and calms their fear. Well, something like that is the dream meaning. But there is more. For the dream is very specific about Jesus’ power over the chaotic forces of the universe. Philips translates well, when he makes him say, “Hush!” to the winds and waves. In the book of Job chapter 38 God puts a limit to the power of the sea, “Here shall your proud waves be stayed.” The dream of Jesus’ disciples glimpses in a man, the astonishing, creative power of God. When is this glimpsed? In retrospect, perhaps everywhere in Jesus’ life, but the revelatory moment is his resurrection. It is when he “wakes up” that the storm is stilled.
And what is the resurrection if not what Paul says, “it pleased God to reveal his son in me.”? It is here and now, as well as then, when I trust the aliveness of Jesus to forgive and transform me. Then I can hear him say, “Hush” to the apparently insuperable forces of chaos that threaten me and all creation.
Yesterday I talked to a parishioner who had just been diagnosed with cancer in his lung, ribs and kidney. He is a man of courage facing a sudden vicious storm in his life. I hope, as it howls around him, he may trust enough in the one who is not dead but only sleeping, to hear his word of calm.
But why do I write of the lives of others when I know the same storms in my own life and the life of my family; when I feel my utter inadequacy in the face of the powers that tear human beings apart; when my own terror is just as evident as that of the disciples? In that dark place are we alone or is there also one like us, identical with us, yet not us, who is also identical with the love that moves the stars, who can say, “Hush!” and guide us to a new shore? If I have to believe before the word is spoken, I will never manage it; but when and if it is spoken, I will believe.