Friday of Pentecost 5 – Mark 4:35-41

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

The announcements kept coming at us relentlessly. Another family was being transferred out of town. I was serving a small parish on the north side of Salt Lake City. On a good Sunday we saw about 45 folks in worship services. It felt like we were always on the edge of solvency. The treasurer’s report was heard with a bit of trepidation and the annual increases to the cost of benefits were dreaded. It was always a somewhat transient membership. Many people accepted a position in the Salt Lake branch as steppingstone to the promotion they really wanted in Denver, Chicago, or elsewhere. We were used to saying goodbye to people. Now, however, we were losing members in what felt like a flood. In the course of a year, we said goodbye to 12 households, fully one third of the membership and many of them active, contributing members.

Honestly, it felt like Jesus was not paying attention to us and was sleeping on the cushion in the back pew of our little church. Have you ever noticed that if you take a traditionally shaped church and turn it upside down, it looks a little like the hull of a boat? That’s why we call that big room where people sit the “nave.” It comes from the Latin word for boat. This was especially true of that church building. It really did feel like you were in a boat.

But Jesus was not asleep, despite what we thought. At the end of the year, we reported that we had transferred out a dozen households, but we had received just as many. We were not swamped by the storm. The Lord said “hush” and “be still!” to those forces which had made us afraid. Now we sat in church with a different awareness. The disciples asked the right question about Jesus at the end of this passage, the question we all must ask. Afterwards, we gripped our hymnals like oars and were more afraid of the one who was in the room with us than the storm which raged outside. Even the wind and waves obeyed Him. That was a good and holy fear.

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