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Peace! Be Still!

June 2, 2015

This article appears on the cover of the June issue of Connections, the newsletter of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Pawleys Island, SC.

It was not long after our arrival in South Carolina seven years ago that we were introduced to hurricane season. On September 5, Tropical Storm Hanna made landfall late in the evening here along the Grand Strand. In the days leading up to landfall, Erika and I made our preparations, buying water and batteries and candles, getting ready for the worst. And we wondered, of course, what had made two young people from Wisconsin move to a place that was under near-constant threat of the elements! Of course, by the time she hit, Hanna was full of sound and fury but signified nothing. The wind blew and the rain fell but there was no real damage. In the end, we didn’t have anything to fear.

So often the storms in our lives seem more powerful, more dangerous, than they really are. We are tempted to give into fear, sensing a loss of control and comfort. At moments like these we need to ask ourselves a simple question: Who is in the boat with us?

Early on in Jesus’ ministry, he got into a boat with his friends to go across the sea. Jesus promptly fell asleep. And while he slept, creation exploded around them: “A great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling” (Mark 4:37). The disciples gave into their fear and imagined that the end was near. Did Jesus not even care that they were perishing?

But who is this in the boat with them? A carpenter’s son? An itinerant teacher? Yes, but not only these things. For in the boat with them is the Son of God himself, ruler of the wind and the waves. Jesus wakes and speaks: “Peace! Be still.” And stillness descends upon them, chasing away the storm. Jesus rebukes them: “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”

We live in a world full of storms and our little craft, the church, so often seems like it will be overwhelmed. The storms of a changing culture swirl around us. Challenges in our congregation ebb and flow. Staffing changes, such as Tami Lee’s transition from her position as Parish Administrator to her new role with our preschool, leave us feeling uncertain. Will we be afraid or will we have faith?

Jesus reminds us that his promise is to carry us safely through every swirling storm. He is in the boat with us, comforting us, calling us away from fear and back to faith. He doesn’t promise us that there won’t be any storms, and new winds will certainly arise; new rains will fall. Our little, leaky boat will seem insufficient. But it isn’t, for Jesus himself rides with us in and through every storm of life.

On Holy Trinity Sunday, we made the words of Psalm 29 our own: “The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever. May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!” Whatever storms arise in our future, remember where you are. You are in the boat with Jesus, at whose voices wind and rain cease. Cultivate your faith in the Son of God, for he is with you always. With Jesus aboard, our boat is sufficient and our journey is sure. In the end, we don’t have anything to fear.

Peace,
Pastor Dave

From → Odds and Ends

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