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 lovingkindness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
-- BCP, page 230
1 Samuel 17:1a, 4-11, 19-23, 32-49; Psalm 133;
2 Corinthians 6:1-13; Mark 4:35-41
2 Corinthians 6:1-13; Mark 4:35-41
"Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?"... and Jesus said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" (Mk 4:38-39)
The Sea of Galilee is actually a lake, fed by the Jordan River at the north end of the lake and then continuing on south at the other end. It is relatively shallow, with mountains on its east side and a plain that stretches out west to the Mediterranean. Its particular geography also means that fierce wind storms can and do appear quickly, with hardly any notice, turning its blue waters into a churning and treacherous death trap. Those who first heard the story would not have been surprised at this turn of events for the disciples on their shallow, small boat.
That Jesus was asleep in the stern -- now, that's a surprise! What sort of person sleeps calmly through a storm like that? "Do you not care?" I hear their immense fear in that question, as they shake him awake. Sometimes, for some of us, anger and blaming is our response to fear. We lash out. We lose it.
I wonder if the internal calm of Jesus -- his quieted spirit-is what makes possible his external, physical calm as he sleeps through the storm without a care in the world. (Pun intended -- you know me by now). I wonder if this is why he can calm the storm on the outside, transferring his inner peace to the raging whirlwind.
It seems to me that his commanding words, "Peace! Be still!" are more a conferring than an order. Jesus transmits his peace to the world around him.
The story of the calming of the sea resonates deeply for us. In the middle of life's storms, we wonder if it will ever end; we wonder if we will make it in one piece to see the light of day. That fear can lead us to angrily lash out at the people around us, as the disciples did with Jesus, as we long for clear blue skies and gentle breezes.
What if instead of praying directly for a change in our circumstances -- the storm out there -- we prayed instead for the peace of Jesus to be instilled in our hearts? What if we turned to Jesus and asked him to calm the storm that is raging inside us instead? Perhaps we focus our prayers so often on wanting a change in our situation, on fixing the circumstances outside ourselves, that we miss the opportunity to experience
and live in the calm and peace of Jesus, whose soul was still and quieted "like a child upon its mother's breast" (Psalm 131:3).
The Peace of Christ is a gift that he is ready, willing, and able to bestow on us, because he indeed cares for us. It surpasses all understanding. It is not whether-dependent and cannot be taken away by circumstance. It is a peace that will quiet our souls, empowering us to deal with our situation knowing that we are as safe as a breastfeeding child, that nothing can ultimately destroy us. It is a peace that will hold us together through thick and thin.
And it is a peace that, by God's grace and, precisely because it is the peace of Christ, we can transmit to those around us who are ready to receive it. Christ's peace is transmissible -- contagious, in the best sense of the word. When Christ's peace dwells deeply in our hearts, we cannot help but share it and give it away.
Under the Mercy,