On The Way with Jesus
We are on The Way with Jesus in all that we are and do, personally and corporately. A primary image of Mark’s gospel is being on The Way with Jesus. In worship this summer Mark’s gospel takes us back to the beginning of ministry with Jesus. We are still early in Jesus’ ministry in Mark’s gospel. It is a journey that can be healing and calming. And it can be conflicted and stormy. Today we “cross over” to the other side with Jesus and encounter a storm.
Mark 4: 35-41
On that day, when evening had come, Jesus said to his disciples,
‘Let us go across to the other side.’
And leaving the crowd behind,
they took Jesus 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.
But Jesus was in the stern, asleep on the cushion;
and they woke him up and said to him,
‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’
Jesus woke up and rebuked the wind,
and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’
Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.
Jesus said to them,
Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?
The disciples were filled with great awe and said to one another,
“Who then is this, that even the wind and sea obey him?”
Taking life by storm….The storms of life are raging
When our children were very young a frequent complaint was, “It’s not fair.” Telling our children that ‘life isn’t fair’ was not a comforting answer to an 8 year old.
Jesus shows disciples that not only is life not fair, but life can be stormy and frightening. Following Jesus on The Way is not the easy way, not the “fair” way, but it is the right way.
Challenges, conflicts, and storms meet us on the way. Sooner or later a storm is raging and waves beat into our boat of life and faith. We face many storms of life – some of our own making and some beyond our control. Jesus encounters storms of criticism from religious leaders Jesus encounters people pressing in around him, people with pressing hungers and needs. Jesus experienced the storm of other’s expectations. Some were healthy and honest, some were not so healthy or honest. Living well in the moment and being present to the other can be stormy going.
A straightforward hearing of this gospel is Jesus’ power to control nature, miraculous power. That may be but it is not the only way to hear the gospel. So let’s ponder the gospel as being with Jesus on The Way today.
Already Jesus is weary and needs rest, to get away from the storm of meeting other’s needs. He tells the disciples, “Let us cross over to the other side.” There can be a double meaning here to “cross over.” To “cross over to the other side” with Jesus can be a metaphor for the sabbatical rhythm of life. We need a time for get away, a time for rest and respite, for reflection and renewal. That way of crossing over and getting away is at last implied here by Jesus. To “cross over to the other side” is also a way to see from another place. To “cross over” is to see from another’s point of view, to gain perspective. Jesus may well have wanted the disciples to ‘cross over’ and see a bigger picture of life.
A couple of Sundays ago, Jonathan Wilson Hartgrove, was speaking in Seattle. Jonathan and Leah were on the Christian Peacemaker Team delegation in Iraq in March 2003. They have founded a small community in Durham, NC, called Rutba House. It is named for the Iraqi desert village of Rutba, where doctors cared for us in the war. Roy, a member of the community in Issaquah with Sue and Wes, heard Jonathan speak. At the end he reminded Jonathan of the proverb about seeing through another’s eyes. Roy spoke of “walking in another person’s shoes” in order to see through their eyes. He asked Jonathan to exchange a sock with him as a way of ‘walking in another’s sock.’ It was a way of ‘crossing over’ and seeing from another person’s perspective.
Jesus and the disciples get into a boat and ‘cross over to the other side.’ And the crossing is stormy – as the disciples found out. But Jesus is with them in the storm. Yes, Jesus calms the storm and brings peace. Jesus also asks two key questions – questions that are always before us. What are the two questions Jesus asks? “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” Fear and faith frequently fight on The Way in the storm. Fear and faith have a stormy relationship. Jesus calls us to cross over even in the face of storms, to cross over from fear to faith. Cross over from security to risk…Cross over from likeness to difference…We cannot know who we are without engaging the other – the Holy Other and the wholly other.
Fear not doubt separates us from the Other/other. Doubt is not counter-faith, fear is. Fear undermines faith, doubt is essential to faith. This is the good news, the gospel of Jesus Christ. The good news of following Jesus on The Way is not that there are no storms. There are and will be storms of life and faith. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a call to faith in the storm – faith beyond fear. Not fear-driven faith. Not even faith without fear. But faith beyond fear
No message of Jesus is more needed today than letting go of fear and growing faith. In our polarized fear-driven culture, fear runs rampant on both ends of the spectrum. All of us face storms in life and faith. Storms are a natural part of life and faith. Our storms come in many sizes and shapes — some of our own making, some beyond us. Some are good some are bad. Some are momentary distractions, some are totally disorienting. Through the coming days ponder and pray all the storms of your life and faith. Dare to walk [sail!] into the storm with Jesus and disciples. You are not alone. You are not on your own.
Storms of life are Raging – let me share a litany of storms….
People who know storms of life and faith:Aung San Suu Kyi (turned 67) storms of imprisonment, Noble Peace Prize/Myanmar leader.
Walter Wink (just died) storms of recovering the nonviolent love of Jesus as The Way….
Community Ministry: Jeanne, Jackie, Jim, Lake City neighbors…some struggling/unhappy
The Church is not without storms. It is as stormy inside the church as outside.
Mennonite Church USA….Ervin Stutzman, Executive Director here last Wed eve…
Iris de Leon Hartshorne as Director of Transforming Peacemaking…
MCUSA meets in Phoenix in July 2013 – storms brewing over immigration, sexuality, authority.
Pacific Northwest Mennonite Conference in transition to new Executive Conference Minister.
Our congregational restructuring is a kind of storm with most of the transition still to come. Our transition is to be a transformation – that is stilling or transforming the storm. As we live into our new structure we seek to be transformed in faith rather than act from fear. What if we used Paul’s language of being a “new creation” rather than “restructuring” as the language of transformation more than transition from now on? The questions Jesus asks us are: Are we acting in fear or in faith? Are we creating the storm or calming the storm?
We know that the world is rampant with storms. The storms of war never cease and leave a lasting legacy of storm in many people’s lives. That’s why we are blessing Rebecca Allen today to join Christian Peacemaker Teams in the storm of war in Colombia. CPT seeks to be a peaceful presence in the storm.
The Apostle Paul, in his Second Letter to the Corinthians heard today, gives us a good clear word about facing the storm in faith beyond fear:
We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger,
How? by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; (6:3-6).
In the storms of life and faith, hear and hold the words of Jesus in the storm: Peace! Be still!”