Tuesday, June 16th. Mark 4:35-41

On that day, when evening had come, 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. 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 he 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?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He 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?”  Mark 4:35-41

 

When I was growing up there was a list of sins that were never written down but were strictly forbidden in our house.  Chief among them was the ironclad rule – Thou Shalt Not Talk Back To Thy Mother!  There was a certain bit of leeway in the other “no no’s” of life but talking back to my mother brought an immediate and memorable response.  Even those little angry whispers as you turned and walked away were dealt with severely.

 

I’m not saying that is anything wrong with that rule or even most of my experiences in suffering their enforcement.  Respecting authority figures is an important value in life.  The trouble is, it is only natural that we take that same rule about “talking back to our parents” into all aspects of life with us.  And sometimes that severely limits us.

 

Sometimes those lessons of youth teach an inordinate mistrust of authority figures.  It is a short path from such mistrust to resentment and outright rebellion.  So it is important that we develop the skills of tactfully yet effectively disagreeing with authority figures.

 

And sometimes we carry those same lessons into our spirituality.  The God we know as our parent then becomes the “One Whom We Shall Not Talk Back To.”  This takes us to a place where we hold ourselves back, cut some deeply true parts of ourselves off from God.  We carry ideas that we can’t share any uncomfortable thoughts or feelings with God.  We can’t disagree, can’t argue, can’t get angry, can’t question.  Do that long enough and eventually God kind of “disappears” from our real lives.

 

So it is that we are surprised to hear the words from the mouths of the disciples, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”  Seeing those words in print is a bit antiseptic – imagine them instead being screamed in the dark, with flashes of lightning revealing the crashing waves and the rain pouring down the faces of the terrified disciples.

 

“Don’t you care that we are perishing!!!!!”

 

Matthew’s version of the story preserves a bit more piety in the disciples where, in the 8th chapter, they say, “Lord, save us!  We are perishing!”  It becomes a plea for help rather than a question about Jesus’ compassion.

 

But Mark doesn’t scrub the disciples’ images.  He puts in their mouths the same prayer we have all prayed from time to time.  Over against the internal rules we might have grown up with, haven’t we all questioned God along the way?  Don’t you see?  Don’t you care?

 

I’m saying today that God welcomes such cries from our lips because they are OUR cries, from OUR lips and God is big enough to take it.

 

Let us pray:  Dear Lord, when the waves crash around us we become terrified.  When life closes in on us, we become afraid.  So we cry to you without thought of politeness or manners.  Hear those cries for what they are – our longing to be safe in you.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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