First Lesson: 1 Samuel 17: (1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49
Responsive Reading: Psalm 9: 9-20
Second Lesson: 2 Corinthians 6: 1-13
Gospel Lesson: Mark 4: 35-41
Grace and Peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Let me begin with a story. Last summer, I was getting ready to run a half-marathon, so I would get ready by having someone either Dan or Fred meet me at the Green Door at like 6:00 AM. They would then drop me off at Gooseberry Falls where I would run back to my car. I had checked the weather forecast before I left which predicted storms perhaps in a few hours, I decided to risk it. I start to run when around mile four of nearly fourteen, around Split Rock wayside I began to hear a rumble in the sky.
Thunder will always scare me as in 1991, My Dad was attending the U.S. Open Golf tournament at Hazeltine in Chaska where he witnessed a man struck and killed by lightning no more than twenty-five feet away.
Rain slowly started to fall. I couldn’t just stay in place for safety’s sake. I know Split Rock State Park had a trail center about 2 miles away that I could seek shelter, so I ran only for the rain to begin to ease up just enough for me to keep going once get there. I then thought that I could make it to the visitors center another mile down the trail only for at this time, the thunder seemed to be growing more distant. As soon as I got to the flats five miles out from Beaver Bay I was still soaking. The rain began to pour heavy again; I decided that I would run as fast as I could to Beaver Bay soaking wet. I remember the thought being as soon as I got back to my car “Boy that was dumb”. Why bother fighting a storm when you don’t have to?
The tale of me running in the rain leads us to our Gospel lesson for the day from Mark 4.
Our reading tells the story of Jesus and the Disciples attempting to cross the Sea of Galilee. And on this day, a great windstorm arose. The Disciples became afraid. For this was no ordinary windstorm, for they had spent their whole lives on the water and seen plenty of windstorms, yet this one was different. The Disciples knew every inch of the Sea of Galilee, used every bit of knowledge they had learned over the years, yet they were still sinking. The boat began to fill with water. The Disciples believed that they were on the verge of capsizing. The Disciples were probably having one of those life flashing before their eyes moments. Where was Jesus during this whole ordeal? He was sleeping, just as calm as could be. The Disciples didn’t get how Jesus was unaffected by this all.
“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” The Disciples seem to speak these words in a harsh, accusatory tone. But the truth is the Disciples had no idea why Jesus remained asleep.
Let me tell a story, I have an aunt named Sally. Sally is a principal of a Catholic day school. The school is one day taking an anonymous survey of parents. One of the questions was “How can we be a better school?” One of the responses that came before Sally’s desk is “Find a Principal that cares about children”. Somewhere along the line, Aunt Sally had done something to give this individual a warped perception of reality. Just like the Disciples had a warped perception of reality that Jesus really didn’t care that the Disciples were perishing.
But perhaps one’s level of care cannot necessarily be seen in the emotions of the moment.
Let me tell another well-known story regarding Joe Montana. Montana’s most famous attribute amongst his teammates was always remaining calm no matter the situation. There is no greater illustration of this than the last drive of Super Bowl XXIII. The 49ers and playing the Cincinnati Bengals down three points with about three minutes left in the game, ninety-two yards from the end zone. Montana walks to the huddle for the first play of the final drive, when something catches the corner of his eye, and it had nothing to do with the Cincinnati Bengals. Montana noticed the actor John Candy standing at his seat. Montana had to point this out to his 49ers teammates to let him know as the kids would say “We got this.” San Francisco drives down the field, and Montana throws the winning touchdown with thirty-four seconds left.
Perhaps the issue with the Disciples was they were focusing on the wrong things, the Disciples obsession was with what was going on outside the boat rather than who was sitting in the boat with them.
In 1992, Steve Martin in one of his better roles played Televangelist and Con-Artist Jonas Nightengale in the movie Leap of Faith. The plot of Leap of Faith has Nightengale’s big budget traveling revival having a truck break down in a small Kansas town in the midst of a potentially crippling drought. Nightengale decides to set up “revival meetings” temporarily to keep the money flowing. Nightengale promises the people of Rustwater, Kansas all sorts of miracles, healings, and wonders but never any rain. In a great scene, the local sheriff asks Nightengale if he’s so powerful why he doesn’t bring down the rain from heaven that the people of this small town really need. Nightengale in typical con-artist fashion turns the question around. Nightengale speaks of rain not in a literal sense, but in a metaphorical sense of being all the hurts and disappointments that people endure in their life. Nightengale turns the congregation that night and says “You ask when it's gonna rain? I want to know when it's gonna stop?”-
Perhaps we’re more like the Disciples in our lesson for today then we think.
Let me tell a revised version of a joke. Ole is living in Fargo by the river; it had been a particularly harsh winter in Fargo for snow. A few warm days and the river is threatening to flood by Ole’s house. Sheriff’s deputies tell Ole that he needs to evacuate. Ole refuses being a stubborn Swede; he says, “I’ve lived in this house for 42 years, ain’t no way that I’m going to sleep on some cot at NDSU. The water continues to rise. Ole’s basement gets flooded out. The water showed no signs receding, so one of Ole’s neighbors comes by in a boat telling Ole to get in. Ole still refuses. Ole says, “If God wants me to get out of this house, he’ll do it himself.” Ole drowns, next morning he gets up at the pearly gates, Ole is mad at God about this latest turn of events. Ole asks God “Why did you forget me during the flood?” God just shakes his head at Ole before saying “Ole, why did you forget me as I tried to bring you to safety?”
As the Disciples think they’re about to be abandoned, Jesus speaks some simple words to their situation. “Be silent! Be still!” At this point’s the winds begin to cease and a great calm comes over not only the waters but also the disciples.
Jesus is almost seeking to assure the Disciples that in the midst of their anxiety and fear to “Be Still!” and know that I Am the Lord Your God.
What point is Jesus trying to make to the Disciples in today’s lesson, let me close with one last story?
Tim Zingale tells the following story. A wealthy man commissioned an artist to paint a picture of “true peace”. The Artist was unsure of how to go about the task, so he thought of something that he would think of as peaceful. The Artist paints a beautiful day in the country, grass as green as could be, birds with beautiful colors flying in the sky, and off in the distance laid the prettiest looking town that anyone had ever seen. The Artist presents the painting to The Wealthy Man; The Wealthy Man’s disappointment is visible. The Artist needs the commission offers to paint a do-over. The Wealthy Man gives him a second chance.
The Artist begins to think of “What would be true peace?” He thinks back to his childhood, how his mother meant more than anyone in the world to him. The Artist paints a beautiful young woman holding a sleeping baby looking upon the child with all the adoration in the world. The Artist goes back to the Wealthy Man to present the image. The Wealthy Man orders the painting to be thrown into the fire.
The Artist goes home in the midst of a personal crisis. He thought these were the two finest works that he had ever painted, and all he was experiencing was this man’s rejection. It was in the midst of his desperation that he began to paint his most brilliant work.
The picture he painted was of a day not much different than Jesus and the Disciples experienced on the Sea of Galilee, the waves were howling, lightning was falling from the sky, rain drops were making it tough to see far ahead, yet in the upper corner of the picture sat a small bird sleeping in her nest without a care in the world. As soon as the wealthy man saw the painting he clapped for the artist had finally captured “true peace”. True peace is knowing that no matter what life throws at you, somehow, someway, you will be alright.
The point of our Gospel lesson is this. We do not go through life alone. Consider the famous words of the 23rd Psalm “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;” Our God is with is in the midst of the storms, rain, and a hail of our lives. What our story reminds us is that Our Lord does indeed care. Our Lord went through it all, only to come out of the grave. The greatest of all human truths is that “We will suffer, and we will die”. But the greatest of spiritual truths we will sing out in just a few minutes that Our Lord has come down to the Lake Shore to journey to the other side of the lake with us. Our Lord has come to meet us where we are spiritually, emotionally, and physically at these most turbulent moments of our lives. Even if Our Lord may appear to be sleeping, this is merely the storm before the calm. Amen
 Mark 4:35-41
 Mark 4:38b.
 Schwartz, Larry. “Montana was comeback king”. ESPN.com. Web. June.15.2015.
 Gardner, Michael. “Let It Rain!” Old Mission/New Vision. 25. Jul.2012. Web. June.15.2015.
 Bretell, Daniel. “He Will Not Let You Perish”. Lectionary.org. 2009. Web. June.15.2015.
 Zingale, Pastor Tim. “Peace”. Sermon Central. June 2006. Web. June.15.2015.
 Psalm 23:4
Pastor Stew Carlson
These are all Sunday sermon's written by Pastor Stew.