From the Well - 1/19/2016

Mark 4:35-41 (NRSV)
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 behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 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?" 39 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. 40 He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?" 41 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?"

Once upon a long, long time ago, there lived some dreamers who dreamed of a faraway promised land where warm rains came in their season and where every valley was clothed in the colors of a hundred different kinds of wildflowers. These dreamers dreamed, and their dream was about a beautiful, bountiful land far away across the sea.

When the dreamers awoke, they agreed to join together in a voyage to the Promised Land of their dreams. So they built themselves a ship and set sail across the sea.

Unfortunately, the first few days of the sailing turned out to be a disappointment for the dreamers. Many became seasick, and those who were not were too busy sailing the ship to do any nursing. Some of the dreamers were so miserable, actually, that they hardly had the heart anymore to dream their dream.

A few days later, the ship fell into the grip of a raging storm. The dreamers feared for their lives then and were so busy fighting for survival that they hardly had time to sleep--let alone to dream--anymore. And the Promised Land faded more and more from view.

Finally the storm passed. Unfortunately, when the stars came out, the dreamers realized that the gale had blown them far off course. They had a meeting to decide what to do.

Some still spoke passionately of the dream and of the Promised Land, but others pointed out that the sails and the masts were battered and weak and that the supplies were dwindling and the fear of scurvy was rampant. So finally, after a long talk, the dreamers voted and decided to give up their quest and sail for the nearest port instead. The dream would just have to wait; it was too impractical.

It was then, when it seemed that things couldn't get any worse, that the dreamers' ship was becalmed. After the seasickness and the howling storms and the decision to give up--the wind stopped blowing. And as the days turned into weeks, the water ran low, and the food disappeared; and the dreamers learned despair.

Then, like the psalmist, some of the crew raised their fists to heaven, in anger, and shouted, "How long, o spinner of dreams?  Will you forget us forever?  How long will you hide your face from us?"

Some, feeling sorry for themselves wept and whispered, "How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?"

Others blamed the captain, or the chaplain, and muttered, "How long will my enemies triumph over me?"  And altogether, those one-time dreamers were reduced to waiting for a miracle.

On the day when Jesus and His disciples were caught in a storm on the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret), Jesus had been preaching to a crowd of people. The numbers swelled to the point that Jesus had to resort to using a boat as a kind of floating pulpit. You can imagine Jesus’ exhaustion at the end of the day. So he tells His disciples, “Let’s go to the other side of the Lake.” Jesus in his humanness needs to escape the crowds for some time of rest. Halfway across the lake they are suddenly caught in a storm. Storms are common on the lake but this one is particularly strong and threatens to swamp the boat. Knowing that if they lose the boat they will perish, the disciples are gripped with fear. Even the experienced sailors among them (Peter, James, John, and Andrew) are afraid.

Remarkably, Jesus continue to sleep as the disciple struggle with their fear. Finally, He is aroused by the screams of His disciples, “We’re going to drown! Don’t you care?” With sleep still in His eyes, Jesus gets up in the stern of the boat and calls out to the wind and the waves, “Peace, be still!” Suddenly, the storm is gone. The winds stop blowing, the lake becomes calm, and the rain turns to sunshine. They are safe. Jesus has done it again. It’s a miracle!

The story does not explain how, it only asserts that in a storm, Jesus cares, speaks, and saves. There is good news in the middle of the storm. As I read this story, I wonder if Jesus is really all that concerned about the storm. He does care about His friends.

In the midst of the storm, Jesus does not desert us. The disciples learn a valuable lesson. “Take up your cross and follow me,” is not meant to be a nice turn of phrase rather it is meant to speak to call and reality. Jesus knows there would be worse storms in the future. One of those storms will eventually kill Jesus. There are many storms ahead for the disciples. There are storms ahead for all of us. Do we believe that Jesus is there in the midst of the storm? Think about it.

Questions for the week

Consider journaling your response to these questions:

What are some ways we can really tune in and open our hearts to the truth that God wants to speak into our lives?

Jesus uses the circumstances (The storm on the sea) and life around Him as a part of His teaching. In one of His parables, He uses agricultural language and imagery (Mark 4:1-20; The Story, p. 235-336). What are the four different kinds of soil in this parable and what do they represent?

What things get in the way of our receiving God’s Word and hearing His message?

Jesus told three parables about lost things that were found (Luke 15; The Story, p. 337-339). What similar threads run through these stories? What do you learn about the love and heart of God from these parables?

Jesus with story and metaphor. He also taught and exhorted in a more traditional manner. The Sermon on the Mount is one such example. In the sermon, He called his followers salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16, The Story, p. 341). What is Jesus trying to teach us? How can we be salt and light in our daily lives?

Jesus taught His disciples how to pray. Through this teaching, He gave us the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-15; The Story, p. 341). How does this prayer inform our prayers?

What lesson did Peter learn when he tried to walk on the water (Matthew 14:22-33; The Story, p 348-349)? How can we learn from the lesson?

Prayer Time

As you take time to pray, here are some ideas to get you started:

Using the Lord’s Prayer as a guide, pray through these themes:

Lift up God and His holiness.

Pray that His Kingdom will come.

Pray that His will be done in your life and on earth.

Ask for His provisions in your life.

Ask for forgiveness and the power to forgive others.

Pray that he will deliver you from temptation.

Pray that He will help you face evil wherever it may present itself.

Between Sessions

Think about how you can tell your story with others as a way of sharing your faith

Read for Next Session

Chapter 25 in The Story

Pastor Matthew