When evening had come, Jesus said to his disciples, “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
In the summer many of us embrace the joys of water: sailing, kayaking, swimming in the ocean, or Walden Pond, or simply sitting on the shore enjoying the beauty of water stretching out before us as we read a good book or sketch the scene. In this Sunday’s Gospel reading we see Jesus and the disciples out on the water. “Let us go across to the other side,” Jesus says; and they set off across the lake in a small boat and are beset by a great windstorm—waves beating against the boat, water pouring in, the disciples terrified and Jesus asleep! “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
Today, the first official day of summer, I picture all of us in that boat; and storms are all around. Whether you see the boat as the Church, our country, or the world—it doesn’t matter, because it is a small boat however you choose to view it, and we are all in it together. The storms of injustice and suffering in our society are beating against the boat, flooding our lives, and threatening to drown us all.
“Let us cross to the other side, Jesus says”….Crossing to the other side in the boat together, with the waves of injustice battering the boat is not easy and we do cry out “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” Because in a time like this, and so often in our lives, it can seem that God is absent. “Why is Jesus asleep?” I asked a friend….his answer startled me, but also woke me up. “If the Church is the Body of Christ—-the question is: Why are we asleep? Why are we asleep?
As the Church, when we work together with Christ, joined with him in our baptism; Jesus tells us that we are given the power, with His help, to calm these storms. And yes, it is frightening. And yes it requires faith. And we will probably not be able to achieve “dead calm” over the waters; and we may not get to the other side of racism and inequality in our lifetime; but we are never alone in the boat and Jesus continues to point us toward the shore. The other side — God’s kingdom, where we will not be consumed with hatred, injustice, and all the storms and sins of our lives. Jesus points us toward the Kingdom — he is always in the boat with us, speaking into the storms, reminding us not to be afraid.
May we have the courage and the faith to calm the storms inside ourselves, through prayer and communion; love and faith, conversation, tears, and laughter so that we can speak God’s truth of love IN LOVE and act boldly, as God’s people—people who love one another as He loves us; people who respect and honor the dignity of every human being. Jesus shows us the way. Let us go across to the other side with Him.
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth that all may serve you in harmony, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Your sister in Christ, in the boat,
Photo credit Anne Umphrey “Sunset in Ireland”