Mt. McKinley in Alaska, originally known as Denali, "the Great One." .... "Lead me to the rock that is higher than I; for you are my refuge..." (Ps. 61:2-3)

       "Who do you say that I am?" Jesus asked.  Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."  And Jesus answered, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! ... You are Peter (petros), and on this rock (petra) I will build my church..."  Jesus then began to speak of the rough road ahead. And Peter took him aside and rebuked him... "Get behind me, Satan!" Jesus replied. "You are a stumbling block..."
                                                (Matthew 16:13-23)

May these words of this Peter be like a rock,
not a stumbling block!

When the storm swamps the boat

Message preached June 24, 2012
Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren
Glen Arm, Maryland USA

based upon Mark 4:35‑41

Order of Worship

listen to it in mp3 format

            [A dialog sermon between the worship leader (voice #1) and the preacher (voice #1). The worship leader stands to read the scripture, invites people to follow along in Mark chapter 4, and begins.]

1 - “On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side’...”

2 - (jumps up and joins in) The other side of what?

1 - What do you mean: “of what?”

2 - The “other side ... of the room?” the “other side ... of the mountain?” or, figuratively speaking, “the other side ... of the discussion?”  Maybe Jesus was trying to explain his  parables to his disciples, saying something like, “on the one hand God’s kingdom is like a mustard seed, but on the other hand it’s like a ... I don’t know, something big, like an elephant? That would be “on the other side of the discussion.” Like a good teacher, maybe he was saying, “Let us go across to the other side.”

1 - ... The “other side of the discussion?”

2 - Yeah! Doesn’t that make sense?

1 - No... This story is about traveling in a boat. They were beside the sea, and Jesus said, “Let us go across to the other side.”

2 - Well, ... that’s different. Why didn’t you point out that they were beside the sea?

1 - I’m just reading what it says. Do you mind? Can I continue?

2 - Sure. Go ahead.

1 - “he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was...”

2 - “Just as he was.” What does that mean?

1 - I don’t know. I’m just reading what it says.

2 - They probably got on board without life jackets. He went with them “just as he was,” without a life preserver.

1 - Okay, so there were no life jackets. Does it matter?

2 - Well, we’ve got young children here and we want them to be responsible whenever they get into a boat. Is it a good thing to have Jesus get into a boat without a life jacket? It’s like wearing a seat belt, you know.

1 - I don’t think they had life jackets or seat belts back then.

2 - You’re right ... Wait a minute, maybe Jesus was already in the boat - you know, preaching to the people on shore. Evening came, and like a sea captain, he commanded, ‘Let us go across to the other side.’ And then he sat down, “just as he was.” He didn’t bother to go back onto the shore first.

1 - It could be, though I can’t quite see Jesus as a sea captain.

2 - You’re the one who said this was a boating story.

1 - That I did. Can I continue?

2 - Please do.

1 - Aye, aye, captain... “Leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped...”

2 - They should have been wearing life jackets, I tell you.

1 - Yes, you did. Children, please note: always wear life jackets when you get into a boat.

2 - Yes, a “great windstorm” could suddenly arise and threaten to swamp your boat. It happened to Jesus and his disciples. I bet they wished they’d had life jackets on.

1 - Moving right along, “the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swampedBut Jesus was in the stern, asleep on the cushion...”

2 - Wait a minute. You say Jesus was asleep?

1 - That’s what the Bible says.

2 - The wind was blowing really hard?

1 - I guess.

2 - Gale force winds?

1 - I don’t know. I wasn’t there. It just says a “great windstorm.

2 - And Jesus slept through it all?

1 - Apparently.

2 - I wonder if he was snoring.

1 - What?

2 – I’ve been told that I can sleep through anything.

1 - Good for you.

2 - Maybe Jesus had sleep apnea. I mean, he fell asleep in the boat in the middle of a bad storm.

1 - There’s nothing about snoring or sleep apnea here. He was just asleep on the cushion.

2 - A “cushion,” you say. Sounds like a “flotation device” to me.

1 - Okay, he was sleeping on the life preserver in the stern.

2 - Which is the stern, the front or the back. I always forget.

1 - That would be the “aft.”

2 - The “aft.”

1 - Yes, the “aft.”

2 - These nautical terms confuse me. Is the “aft” the front or the back of the boat?

1 - “Aft” is opposite of the “fore” of the boat, which could also be called the “bow.”

2 - The “bow?”

1 - The “bow.”

2 - “Fore,” “aft,” “bow,” “stern” ... will you please tell me where Jesus was sleeping.

1 - In the “back” of the boat, the “stern.”

2 - Thank you. He was in the back sleeping on the life preserver.

1 - Yes.

2 - He should have been wearing it, you know.

1 - Probably.

2 - It would have been a good example to all his disciples.

1 - Enough on life jackets! Any more questions?

2 - I still don’t understand how he could be sleeping in the middle of a bad storm.

1 - I’m guessing he was tired.

2 - Well, yeah, he was tried. But with all the waves and bouncing and stuff, that would have been hard. And then there’s the water starting to come into the boat. You’d think that would wake a person up.

1 - Has anyone ever poured water on you when you’re snoring in the middle of a storm?

2 - Not that I can remember.

1 - See? It’s possible.

2 - Are you saying that someone has poured water on me in the night and I didn’t notice?

1 - I’m saying ... it’s time to continue reading.

2 - Oh, sorry. Go ahead.

1 - As you might recall, “Jesus was in the stern, asleep on the cushion.”

2 - Yes, he was.

1 - “They woke him up...”

2 - I bet they did!  Probably wasn’t, “rise and shine, you sleepy head.”

1 - You’re right. They didn’t wake him up that way.

2 - I’m imagining a lot of screaming here.

1 - It doesn’t say they were screaming.

2 - Well, of course. Who would hear screaming with all that wind?

1 - It was a “windstorm.”

2 - Then, again, who would hear snoring? How did they know he was asleep? Maybe he was pretending to be asleep, just to see what they would do.

1 - It doesn’t say he was pretending. It also doesn’t say he was snoring.

2 - Well, it doesn’t say he wasn’t.

1 - Okay. At the least, though, his disciples thought he was asleep.

2 - If I was afraid of dying and I thought Jesus was asleep, I’d wonder if he really cared.

1 - Exactly!

2 - Huh?

1 - When they woke him up, they “said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’”

2 - Well, yeah, he’s the only one on the boat with a life preserver.

1 - Maybe he is the life preserver.

2 - You want to run that one by me again.

1 - Jesus is the one who will save them.

2 - You mean, he’ll share his life jacket with a few of them after the boat capsizes? There’s only so much weight one of those things can hold. That’s why every person should always have their own life jacket.

1 - No. This isn’t about life jackets. It’s about Jesus. He will save them all. Can I finish the story?

2 - Yes, I want to hear how he does this.

1 - “He woke up...

2 - Duh, yeah! It’s about time. We’re all going to die here. Thanks for opening your eyes, Jesus.

1 - “He woke up and rebuked the wind...”

2 - He what?

1 - “He rebuked the wind.”

2 - He threw up? Oh, gross. That’s in the Bible?

1 - No. “He rebuked,” he spoke sharply, he reprimanded “the wind.”

2 - Like the wind is really going to listen. Reprimanding children is like rebuking the wind. How often do they listen? You might as well be screaming into the wind.

1 - Tell me about it.

2 - So Jesus “rebuked the wind.”

1 - That’s what it says.

2 - Then, of course, the boat sank.

1 - No, he “said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.”

2 - (pause) You’re pulling my leg, right?

1 - That’s what it says.

2 - He said, “Peace! Be still!” and the storm stopped.

1 - Yup.

2 - Just like that?

1 - Just like that.

2 - Whoa! ... Do think that would work in other places?

1 - What do you mean?

2 - Imagine total chaos.

1 - You’re talking about my house, right?

2 - Any house! Picture it. Everything is going nuts. Your wife is pulling out her hair. Big storm brewing.

1 - Time to beat a hasty retreat.

2 - No, brother. Put down that remote. Step forth from the stern of the boat...

1 - The “stern of the boat?”

2 - Wherever, just stand up, rebuke the wind, and say, “Peace! Be still!”

1 - And?

2 - The wind ceases - “dead calm”... Do you think it would work?

1 - In my house?

2 - Any house.

1 - No.

2 - Why not?

1 - I’m not Jesus.

2 - You’re saying Jesus has to be there in your home for it to work?

1 - Well, when you put it that way ... yeah.

2 - Do you think Jesus is in your home?

1 - Do you?

2 - Sometimes it feels like if he’s there, he’s asleep in the stern.

1 - Nah, that’s just you, snoring away.

2 - Very funny. Seriously, though, there are times when I look around - and not just at my own life, but at the world around me - and I wonder if God isn’t asleep at the switch or something.

1 - I hear you.

2 - Think about the school where you teach. Doesn’t it seem like maybe Jesus is asleep somewhere in the back row.

1 - No, that would be George (or whatever).

2 - All you-know-what is breaking out in the classroom. Nearly riot stage.

1 - You’re talking about a typical day there.

2 - Where is Jesus in the middle of the storm?

1 - Asleep in the back row?

2 - Asleep in the back row! Next to George. Not only that, he’s sleeping on the only life preserver.

1 - Life preserver?

2 - Okay, so it’s a school, not a boat. Say there’s only one possible diploma, one job, one future possibility that’s any good for any of these students, and he’s sleeping on it.

1 - I don’t believe that.

2 - You don’t believe that Jesus is there is your classroom.

1 - No, he’s there, all right. I just don’t believe that my student’s options in life are that limited. As much as I get frustrated by some of those knuckleheads, I believe there are possibilities out there for them, if only they would believe it, too, and apply themselves. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be a teacher.

2 - So, where is Jesus in all this? What’s he doing?

1 - He’s their life preserver.

2 - We’re talking about school here, not a fishing boat.

1 - Listen, when it comes right down to it, we’re all in the same boat.

2 - Huh?

1 - Life is hard. The wind blows. The storms brew. No one promised smooth sailing. In the middle of it all, though...

2 - Jesus is asleep in the stern.

1 - No, in the middle of it all we just need to keep the faith. Even if the boat begins to sink, our life preserver is right with us. Jesus won’t let us down.

2 - In the middle of it all we just need to keep the faith?

1 - Yes. We just need to keep the faith.

2 - Sometimes the boat sinks, you know. Bad things happen.

1 - Terrible things happen. Even to those who trust in God. Remember Job in the Bible?

2 - You know I do.

1 – Bad things happened to him. Bad things also happened to the early followers of Jesus. Many were killed just because they believed.

2 - Talk about stormy weather!

1 - But Jesus was in the boat with them through it all.

2 - He was their life preserver.

1 - He was their life preserver.

2 - He is our life preserver.

1 - He is our life preserver... Shall we finish this gospel story?

2 - Please do.

1 - As you might recall, Jesus “said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.”

2 - Yes, I do recall that.

1 - Then, Jesus “said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?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?’”

2 - Whoa! What a story! Do you think it’s true?

1 - You mean, do I think it actually happened?

2 - No, I mean, do you think that Jesus really is our life preserver.

1 - With all my heart.

2 - Me, too. Though I confess to being afraid, and doubting.

1 - We all do.

2 - Whether we’re a pastor,

1 - or a teacher.

2 - Keep the faith!

1 - Keep the faith!

2 - By the way, speaking of windstorms, a few weeks back we celebrated Pentecost.

1 - Yes, we did.

2 - That first Pentecost was a windstorm, also. The Holy Spirit blew through those disciples like a mighty wind.

1 - Yes, it did. It still does.

2 - Yes, and sometimes it feels like the boat might sink in the middle of the storm.

1 - You mean the church and God’s Spirit?

2 - Indeed. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

1 - It does.

2 - Keep the faith, Richard.

1 - Keep the faith, Pete.

2 - (to the congregation) You all, keep the faith!

1 - Amen.

©2012 (revised from 2003) Peter L. Haynes
(you are welcome to borrow and, where / as appropriate, note the source - myself or those from whom I have knowingly borrowed.)

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