On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:35-41 NRSV)
This is the gospel text for the 4th Sunday after Pentecost in the Revised Common Lectionary that was read in many of our churches on June 20, 2021.
I’m going to suggest a way of understanding this story that you may have never considered before. It is starts with the assertion that faith is a verb! Faith is an action! We can’t quantify faith—we live it trusting that God will direct our days and deeds to fulfill God’s creative intent from the beginning! You faith it!
Some interpretations of this story suggest it is wrong to be afraid when you live your life the way God intended it to be lived. Not yet—at least for me! I’ve never had a day in my life—at least since I became aware of those these feelings—that I haven’t felt at least some fear and anxiety. Some days have fewer of these moments than others and can feel carefree and enjoyable! But many days are filled with so much anxiety and fear that I inwardly find myself wondering “where is God in all this?” Especially when you and I daily hear of and see all the life draining pain and suffering that happens to so many people and sometimes even in our own lives. A recent unexpected stay in the hospital for a few days was a reminder of this for me.
So, when Jesus sleeps in the stern of the boat, the disciples go bonkers in fear of the storm. When Jesus awakes, things begin to calm down. But whatever he said to the wind and the waves, I think he said “Peace! Be still!” he also said to the disciples! “Calm down! It’ll be OK. You are not going to drown today!”
The problem for Jesus in Mark’s gospel is that disciples were slow learners. Mark tells us that Jesus taught and preached in public to many people and then he still had to take the disciples aside for special classes—and they still didn’t get it!
So maybe what happened there in the boat in stormy weather is that Jesus awoke scratching his head in bewilderment as he ribbed the disciples a little—“We covered this in three different lessons, and you still don’t get it—when you’re with God and me you have nothing to be afraid of! Start faithing it—and you’ll see, God come through for you every time! Perhaps some of your days will be a little less fearful and anxious!”
Of course, the disciples babble on, marveling at how the storm subsided, but ignoring how Jesus had just calmed them down and how God saved them again! Maybe someday they would get it and start faithing it!
Do you think it is possible that you and I, as we turn our lives to God, might do just a little better than the disciples did? I think so! This story is filled with much good news! God’s purpose is to calm us down so that we might join God in doing good for others and so reduce (if just a little) all the fear and anxiety we live with every day!
So, here’s a couple of ways to go with this story today. How does God calm you down when you’re upset? Where do you need calmness and peace today? Or, if you are feeling calm and at peace, how can you share your peace with someone who may especially need calmness today?
Then there’s faithing it! What could faith as a verb mean for living your life as a follower of Jesus? Are there a couple of little ways today that you could share God’s love and goodness with another person or persons? If you get opportunities to do so, share what you did with someone who will listen and may be encouraged by your story.
O God who calms the winds and waves and the fears and anxieties of our days,
slow us down to take in the peace and calmness you have for all of us. Show us daily ways that we can “faith it” and live out of your love and goodness. Help
us to walk together with those who are anxious, hurting, and afraid. Amen.