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MK 4: 35-41
2nd Sunday after Pentecost

Well, we've made it back to MK! Fortunately, we don't have to choose between JN's 'depth' & MK's 'straight-forwardness'. We have both in our armoury.

It doesn't take much to imagine Mk's account here appearing in different circumstances as a parable told about someone else by Jesus. Or is that my imagination running riot? But we do need to exercise our own imagination & stretch others'. Jesus is a great teacher not least because he is able to invoke listeners' imagination when he tells them stories & asks them questions. Preaching is a challenge to do the same. I'm not for a moment questioning the reality of the incident on the lake - it's too vivid for that - but the simple way MK relates the story opens it up to reading in conjunction with all our own stories of storms, fears, & faith. What happens on the lake back then is of little consequence to us today if that's not true.

Is the central issue really the stilling of the storm, or the raising of the question: Who is this? Mind you I suspect that if I were in the boat, the central issue might be the calming of the storm until Jesus demonstrates who he really is. And that seems to be the boat many of those to whom I minister find themselves in. It's all very well for us to say that theologically speaking, faith must come before proof, but when the boat is seemingly sinking, the opposite, proof before faith, often seems to kick in. Jesus doesn't deliberately precipitate this polarity by having a snooze (he must have been exhausted after all the teaching he's just done!) but he certainly fastens on what happens, as a good teacher does, to help the disciples see things his way. And that's the name of the game: seeing things God's way.

There's no snoozing time for God, ever. But many who feel they're being buffeted by the many & varied storms of life see things like those disciples. All that needs to happen is this fellow we say is God waking up & doing something about our predicament. OK, so that's simplistic! But so is the way many of us who are similarly 'of little faith' because we're still in the process of becoming great- hearts, see & feel things. What are we preachers to say to those who are 'fearing a great fear' that will be a bit more help than theological correctness which might turn out to be pious platitude? We can only answer that in relationship to the fears our fellow rowers are revealing. Relationship isn't just a throwaway word here, either. Out on the lake the disciples' relationship with Jesus is still at a very formative stage. Is ours at a stage advanced enough to relate meaningfully & compassionately to those who are afraid? Enough to be able to live reassuringly? Enough to be a 'little Christ' or 'another Christ' in their boat with them? Wide awake? That's often the way many of those in our pastoral care become convinced that God isn't asleep, is always at work in, & incredibly, in command of all life's storms, because they see us trusting in such a One & making ourselves available through Him to still storms in the way most appropriate to their needs.