The Rev. Jodi L. Baron – June 21, 2015 – Proper 7, Year B: Mark 4:35-41
It’s good to be back.
I am grateful for the time I had away with my family. Thank you for being the kind of congregation who encourages her clergy and staff to take time off. Thank you for being the kind of congregation we want to return to.
Some of you may or may not know, Christian & I were supply priests at one of our diocesan seasonal chapels last week. In exchange for preaching and presiding, the Diocese provides a cottage for the clergy to rest in during the week.
The cottage is right on Portage Lake. A large, very deep lake that spills into Lake Michigan.
There’s lots of fish in that lake. We caught some of them.
One of my favorite parts of the week came on Sunday.
Because it is a seasonal chapel, there isn’t an altar guild, a talented musician, or parish administrator to help with the logistics of the Sunday liturgy. There weren’t acolytes or even a coffee hour host to open the doors. It helped me appreciate the shared ministry of our liturgy all the more.
This meant, however, that Christian & I tossed a coin to see who would preach and who would preside: I got “preside” which meant I got the task of setting up of the space.
It was a gift to be quiet at God’s table as I laid out the elements for the feast we were about to consume. It was a gift to pick flowers and arrange them with my daughter. It was a gift to carry the dishes from our feast back across M-22 to the cottage and wash them and return them to their home until the next time.
It was a gift to lead the small gathering of folks who return to this chapel, year after year. It search for a place to rest.
Not just the ones who assemble on Sundays from May to September, but all the passersby on M-22. But the travelers too.
I heard stories from folks about times they know of when bicyclists or motorists would stop in front of this completely unsuspecting chapel and enter, not for a grand experience, just for a deep breath.
I get that.
After the Sunday service we had our “coffee hour on the deck” inside the chapel due to the in-climate weather. I chatted with folks who blew in from various parts of Michigan, all happy to be reunited with their cottage friends and to be back at St. John’s by the Lake.
My other favorite part about the week was just the change of focus I was able to have for a few days.
It’s been a busy year. A very good year, but very, very, very busy.
June 14th was our 1 year anniversary for being Ordained to the Sacred Order of Deacons. A day I will never forget. As the Bishop laid his hands upon my head and asked the Holy Spirit to make me a Deacon for God’s church, I wept.
The vows I took that day, and the day I was ordained priest, I take very seriously…in all that I do, or try to do. And to be afforded the opportunity to land my weary bones after seven years of a long and fruitful discernment process leading to that day…words cannot express how grateful we are for being called here, to this place, Grace.
I imagine the disciples from this morning’s gospel were pretty tired after the little escapade in this morning’s gospel, don’t you? Maybe even weary.
Intensity of situations have a way of draining us, even those events where we felt so close to God we could touch him.
So when they said to Jesus, as the waves were crashing in and it seemed as though the sea would consume them and their boat, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
I think that was a fair question. The fear was real and the waters were indeed dangerous.
And Jesus was sleeping! Man, he must have been REALLY tired, right?
And Jesus responded in a remarkable way.
He first turned to this source of Fear that was threatening to consume his disciples and he rebuked it.
“Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.
He spoke PEACE to the chaos. PEACE to the fear. PEACE to wind and sea. And they obeyed.
The waters to the ancients represented a lot of things, but peace and calm were not among those I could find listed.
But last week, as I watched the sunset across Lake Michigan one evening, and my kids could wade out gently into her waters, my heart was filled as I reflected on what that moment must have been like for the disciples. That moment right after their Teacher had calmed the waters.
I think that is the way of Jesus. The way of looking at things that seem completely out-of-control, threatening to strip us of all faith and breathes PEACE into it.
At least, that’s what I hope the way of Jesus does. That’s what I signed up for.
And my sense is that that same rebuking, breathing of PEACE into the chaos and fear, is exactly what a lot of folks are needing right about now. We all came to church today bearing varying degrees of worries and occupations; with some degree of chaos, fear, or worry. There is lots of PEACE to speak to our world, in our communities, to our families.
There are many prayers to say today.
Prayers of thanksgiving, prayers for peace. Prayers for the sick and dying, prayers for justice. Prayers for the victims of violence in this and every land. Prayers for healing.
Our Book of Common Prayer has many words that the faithful have said for generations in times of conflict, for the sick, and oppressed. For the human family.
It has psalms that capture every human emotion, and a rhythm we can set our hearts to when it seems as though the waters of life are consuming us.
It has words of unity to speak in times of discord and words of hope to speak in times of despair.
It has our human attempts at speaking God-talk, and it is a gift.
Use it, use it often.
Read, Mark, and inwardly digest the wisdom from the saints who’ve gone before us and left us this.
Prayer is what binds us, prayer is what heals us, prayer is what gives us courage to face the world.
And my prayer for you, for us all today, is that we find the courage to pray, like in the words attributed to St. Francis:
Prayer 62 in The Book of Common Prayer: A Prayer attributed to St. Francis
Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.