Car Trips, Boat Trips, .. Jesus is in the Stillness

Proper 7 Year B 2021

2 Corinthians 6:1-13
Mark 4:35-41

O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving-kindness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

May your hope be as bright as a flaming light held high long the unknown shores of night

May you never lose the vision of what the years to come could be,

And no matter how dark the sea may look,

You have the courage within to dream (Morgan Harper Nichols How Far You Have Come)

That beautiful prayer is written by Morgan Harper Nichols, which is found within her book “How Far You Have Come”- a beautiful artistic book telling both her journey but also her poetry and words of encouragement. The book narrates her family’s car trip from Atlanta to Los Angeles the summer of 1996.

The journey begins with leaving Atlanta, just as the Olympic torch was arriving to begin the games, the family heads westward.

Car trips never go expected. Her family’s first hiccup was getting out of Atlanta.

Traffic came to a standstill as they were departing…..

in their rush, they were late, leaving later than they had hoped and frustrated and anxious…..

everything came to a full stop on the 75/85 connector…..

to literally watch that tiny flame of the Olympic torch cross over the highway.

While this tiny runner with a small flame delayed their departure, it also gave her family pause to join everyone else around them and gaze wondering together about the hope and the excitement of the Olympic games….

An unexpected pause on their journey. A chance to gaze together at hope, at endurance, at community striving together. To dream.

Do you not care?

Why are you afraid?

Who is this among us?

These three questions meet us head on in our Gospel reading today. In the midst of their perfect planned boat trip at the end of the day, a storm brews up on the disciples.

While storms were common on the sea of Galilee, they were also commonly life threatening. The family of the disciples got in the boat ready to get to their destination. As a storm brewed, all hands were on deck to keep the boat upright, to keep things going and not capsizing, the disciples were focused on not losing nets, people, the material things that are essential.

And Jesus, where is Jesus? Well, he is redefining the term “deep sleeper.”

I can hear the disciples’ exasperation after a long day of keeping up with Jesus’ that can’t he help out with this????

Jesus, Don’t you care about us?

(your inaction make us think you don’t)

Jesus, don’t you care enough to be awake with us until all the work is done? 

(If you cared, you would help!)

And Jesus awakes and responds to the heart of the matter, to hear what they were asking, he responds with “Why are you afraid?”

Perhaps it’s the fear of the storm

Perhaps it’s the fear of not getting to the other side of being stuck in the middle

Perhaps it’s the fear of not being included and knowing the rest of the plan for the rest of the journey.

Jesus does care about our deep fears.

Because Jesus Cares Jesus says to the waters, “Peace be still”

The creator says to the created “be calm.”

To us, to creation.

Be Still.

Stop.

Be.

Be astonished.

BECAUSE

The God we believe in, is among us.

The God we believe in IS in the boat with us.

God the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit is with us in the midst of the storm AND the stillness.

Many of you have started your car trips of the summer, getting those long-awaited vacations in now that the school year has finished.

Now that many are vaccinated, covid restrictions are loosening we are taking adventures YET even in those carefully planned adventures, we find ourselves involuntarily in the midst of storms.

The unpredictable, the change of plans, the delay of plans.

We might set out in our vessels thinking we have all that we materially need safely secured tightly around us and yet we can’t control the weather nor the traffic! (YOU TRY driving through Atlanta at any time!)….

We are awaiting the unknown of the next chapter of middle school, high school, athletics, college life or new jobs.

We are awaiting medical diagnoses, next steps, and treatment.

We have had a loved one die recently and can’t even imagine what comes next.

We see inequality of treatment of our brothers and sister in Christ and struggle with our own call to work in the community.

And Jesus says to us, Peace be still.

And immediately the waters are calmed.

Remember the same waters that were in the beginning of creation parted for life to be created. Remember the waters of the Red Sea parted for giving new life to the Hebrews escaping the Egyptians.

Remember the waters at Jesus’ baptism declaring the beginning of his ministry and calling us into our own.

In the midst of the stormy waters, God is right there with you in the boat, right there stilling the seas and present through the challenging waters of our life.

In our epistle reading today, St Paul is giving a truth filled pep talk to the Corinthians. I love Paul’s words in The Message translation today:

“Companions as we are in this work with you, .. don’t squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us.

“I heard your call in the nick of time, the day you needed me, I was there to help.” (This reminds me of the disciples today!)

Paul also is imploring the people to open their hearts to God who is right there with them in the long days, the short days, the days where you don’t get lunch because you were caring for someone else, the days where you were judged and mocked for doing the right thing. God is right there with you.

To continue on the journey, as Paul says “enter this wide open spacious life.” “Open up your lives and hearts and live openly and expansively.”- God’s peace is there to be found and steady us in our boats.

God’s Peace is there to awe us and give us courage and to bring us back around to the journey with purpose and calling and sends us forth.

Today is Father’s Day, yesterday was Juneteenth, this past week we hosted Youth BEAT and Summer Choir Camp, we gathered and scattered and prayed as a community in so many ways.

Youth and children coming together to learn about music, Youth coming to learn more about God’s call for them to live out their faith in action on their faith journey, parents accompanying them on their adventures.

On June 19th we recognize the day that those who were enslaved in our country were given their freedom on paper, we rejoice in that freedom and we simultaneously acknowledge that same proclamation did not change a system overnight and we still have work to do, pain to recognize and work to do to rebuild the beloved community of God as a nation.

Today is Father’s Day- a day where the only perfect example of Fatherhood is the one we know through God’s sacrificial love for this world through creation and his son, Jesus.

And today we will commission Caroline and John Allen to go forth, sent by St. John’s to continue to be the hands and feet and heart of Christ in a new location! in Ecuador.

Paul today says, Today is the acceptable day, NOW is the acceptable time, to listen, to act, to be who we are called to be.

Water and Storms, Cars and Boats, Stillness and Calling.

Be Stlll and Know.

Know that God does care deeply about you.

Know that God knows your deepest fears and is there with you

Know that God is the God of all creation,

God is present and beside you in all that happens as you respond to the call of being a beloved Child of God.

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