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  • Writer's pictureMinister Jamie Seales

In the Middle of the Storm

Excerpts from Minister Jamie's Sermon based on Mark 4:35-41


Folks like to rank things - you see top ten lists on all kinds of topics.  We too have personal top ten lists: top ten artists, our top ten favorite songs, our favorite movies. I would say that Remember The Titans is one of my top ten favorite movies. The football in this movie is rock solid - I am convinced that the tackles were real!  Remember The Titans follows a community, a school, a football team and the actions and reactions to the attempt to integrate a high school in Alexandria, VA.  Needless to say, there were many people boiling over with anger. Anger because a new coach had been assigned to the football team. Anger because new players were there to take over positions. This anger spilled over to the players, and you can see the tension between each player as they tried to wrestle with what integration means. They struggled until coach Herman Boone took them away from the noise to an exclusive place where they practiced together for one week. While practicing they built common bonds and were changed and transformed in how they saw one another. Yes, they had changed. But, the town that they returned to was still the same. They return right back to the eye of the storm.


How often in our lives do we feel like we have some experience that has shaped us, that has transformed us, for us to return only to find that others don't feel that same way? It’s so easy to allow the storm to overwhelm us. Recently I had scheduled what we call a fun day. I got to spend time with Anthony, I got to spend time with his mom, and it was a wonderful morning. Then I looked at my phone and I saw a message from a coworker, “If you can, please call this number, it's urgent.”


So, I called.  The person on the other side is sobbing, crying, and she asked me if I could come by. When I got there, I found a young lady, 26 years old. I didn't know then that she only had three hours left to live.  The patient's family was looking for hope, so they reached out. The only problem was that I felt like I had lost some hope while standing right in the middle of this situation. A mother holding her 26-year-old daughter, patting her head, telling her that she loved her and that she was there. Then looking to me for an answer at a time when I felt like I had none. Just that morning I would have told you I had Jesus on lockdown. It wasn't the time or place for clever theology, but it did occur to me that as I watched this unfold… a loving mother embracing her 26-year-old daughter…  If that's not love I don't know what is. So, Jesus was there. God was there. He just seemed to be asleep.


In our last reading, Jesus had just given the disciples the secrets to the Kingdom of God. He had put it in the form of a parable and said this is what the Kingdom of God looks like. On that same day Jesus said, “let's go across to the other side”. Before we get to the drama or to the storm part, which is where our natural focus and attention goes, let's look a little closer at the first part of this text: Jesus says let's go across to the other side. On that same day they have so much hope in Jesus that when Jesus invites them to get on the boat, they… get into the boat. Jesus says, “let's go across to the other side”, and they get into the boat. They're only following where Jesus led them. Jesus has led them to this place, and they end up in the middle of a storm. And ending up in the middle of this storm they panicked.  You brought us here and you're getting shuteye while the rest of us are terrified?  So, the disciples wake up Jesus and tell him, “It is like don't you even care that we are all perishing!  Don't you even care that we are all perishing?"


On that same day that those players from Alexandria High School would return to their hometown, they would go from feeling very good about themselves and having hope, to being right in the eye of that storm. The mother of the 26-year-old would go from memories of her young daughter to a place of deep despair. And I would go from feeling like I had some answers, to feeling like I didn't have any.


Where are you?  Where in your life have you seen similar things or experienced a similar reality?  When you felt good.  That you had done it.  That you understood what needed to be understood. But then suddenly you were rocked to your very core.  


When they wake Jesus up and say, “don't you care that we are perishing?”, Jesus speaks to the storm. “Peace.  Peace, be still.  Peace, be still.” Why? Because though Jesus is sleeping, he is still present. He is still in the boat. He is still with us at the rock bottom. He is right there even if it seems like he is asleep at the wheel. God loves you. God is with you. God will continue saying, “Peace, be still” to us because we will continue to need to hear it.


 Jesus ends our text with a question: “Have you no faith?” This prompts a question in return.  “Who is this person that even the wind and the waves obey?” They obey Jesus. We are following Jesus. Jesus is the one who will ultimately get us through even our greatest storm. But it comes through peace. It comes through continually reminding ourselves and hearing that voice say, “Peace, be still”.  If we can do that, we can hold on to our faith in the middle of the evening when our storm comes.  


So today, regardless of the storms that are in your life, hold on to your faith. Jesus goes with you, and it makes all the difference.





Amen

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