25.6.15

The fear (being in awe of) the Lord or Whose church is it anyway?

Do you think that the disciples were more frightened before or after the stilling of the storm? 






Which is more challenging – accepting your own demise, that the water might fill the boat or that you'll be saved and plunged into an entirely new way of life?

The Christian faith requires your acknowledging Jesus as God.

The Christian life leads to the slow death of the self for your new life in Christ.

Therefore do you think the disciples were more afraid before or after the stilling of the storm?

After the stilling of the storm, he who had only been teacher is now something else altogether – he is God.

He is God because only God has power over the very things God has made: the elements.

The elements dominate man no matter how hard we exert our mastery over them. In a fight with the ocean, the ocean will always win and it is heart-breaking to hear frequently of the drowning of so many people taking to the oceans in make-shift boats to flee countries where life hangs in the balance, to then lose life completely against an enemy that is ocean; those 'proud waves' as God describes them for Job. There have been many who have lost against the ocean.

When my second daughter, 18 months old, slipped beneath the water in a play pool we had in the back of our garden and drank the water into her lungs as I distracted fought with a deck chair, I learnt that day that her life was so fragile – that two foot of water could win and as I threw her over my knee and hit her on the back and watched the water gush out and the air rush in, I learnt that life is always 'gift.'

Do you think the disciples were more afraid before or after the stilling of the storm?

More afraid as Jesus slept or more afraid with him fully awake?

It is often in the storms of life that we become more aware of Jesus:

“Bail me out we cry, don't sleep, I need you now, it's convenient for me now to seem to wake you up – only really it never was you that were sleeping - it was me, to your presence that was always there, but I left you at the far end of my boat, made you a little cosy on a cushion and forgot you. I was asleep to you but now I am awake and I am crying “Bail me out Jesus, still the storms, don't have me perish.”

And for many there is that turning point.

Life changes, the life of Christ grows in you after such events.

He is no longer asleep.

The doll I brought back from hospital as a gift from my newborn baby to her older sister (so we could both care for babies together – I had read somewhere it helps the older child adjust and not become jealous) had a button where we could switch her off. She could switch off plastic baby Annabel with all her expensive accessories, I couldn't and wouldn't want to turn off my second daughter and I was constantly present to her presence apart from one moment caught up with a deck chair...

Is there a way in which you could become more attentive to Jesus, present to his presence?

Realise that it isn't him who sleeps at the far end of the boat, he just demonstrates rest, which is, after all the goal of creation: that all should be calm because reconciled to God.

That it might be you who needs waking, perhaps with the splashing of a little water, the slight sting of the salt that is to characterise your life. Your saltiness is a distinctiveness which has other people notice to whom you belong.

You belong to Jesus.

Is this frightening this being distinctive, this admission that Christ is God, that he has power over all the little things and the hugest storms that sweep into your life, that he knows your every thought, all your yesterdays and tomorrows and that all he requires of you is that you stay awake to his glorious and disturbing presence?

Do you then think the disciples were more afraid before or after the stilling of the storm?

"Why are you afraid?" He asks and they were filled with awe and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’

When I take a funeral, as I do from time to time, there is one part of the set liturgy that I am bold enough to change. It comes near the end of the service when I realise, that in a moment, the grieving will really begin, when the activity of planning and orchestrating music and memories will come to an end and people will return to lives and homes that will never be quite the same.

It is these lines:
Our days are like the grass; we flourish like a flower of the field;
when the wind goes over it, it is gone and its place will know it no more.
But your merciful goodness endures for ever and ever toward those who .. and I say...are awed by your presence

Not those who 'fear you' – but those awed by your presence - because this is really what we mean when we talk about 'fearing God.' When Jesus asks the disciples why they are afraid, he will replace their fear with wonder and with awe and with perhaps just silence – as they become still and encounter the Word gone forth, the Word of God, the Word made flesh, God come down from heaven to earth.

There is a right fear of the Lord which is a being lost in wonder, a being lost in praise. A being lost which is a being found again, a coming round to God, an awakening to his presence so that where ever and when ever storms might blow about, we will know a certain peace that is only found in God.

Our God is not a frightening God. But we must dare stay in the boat and behold this God who loves, who only asks us for our hearts so that he might do the rest.

Do you think the disciples were more afraid before or after the stilling of the storm?

It's because the call of discipleship is costly but the gains outweigh the losses, that we are to push on into his presence as a people characterised by love, that we are not to be afraid but only lost in wonder and journeying to the other side which will likely look quite similar to here.

Praying always for stiller waters,
Trusting the Father and the Son,
That in the presence of the Spirit his plans might be begun,
That we can be so distracted, bailing water from the boat,
Trust that Christ will calm our storming and we will all stay afloat.
We have a God of rainbows,
Of promises he keeps,
He is faithful even when sometimes he only seems to sleep.
Let's awaken to his plans for us,
Row on, reach the other side,
Don't imagine it before you have landed,
Let it take you by surprise,
It will not knock the wind from you
Or have you clinging sickly to the side,
Jesus wants the best for us,
His church: his earthly bride.

Have faith I say with Jesus. It's his church, not yours or mine. And so, in some ways, yes, the disciples were probably more afraid after the stilling of the storm.

After the stilling of the storm, they had to get out of the boat and actually do something.
Whilst they fought the wind and waves their energies were taken up with that.

Enough, peace, be still.

'They took him with them into the boat, just as he was.' Christ the captain of this ship, steers us in his direction to acknowledge him as God and that this Church is His.

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