More / Book of the Month / "On board through the storm" / Sermon / Pr. Lucas Albrecht / Season of Pentecost / June 24th 2018 - / Mark 4:35-41

"On board through the storm" / Sermon / Pr. Lucas Albrecht / Season of Pentecost / June 24th 2018 - / Mark 4:35-41

"On board through the storm" / Sermon / Pr. Lucas Albrecht / Season of Pentecost / June 24th 2018 - /  Mark 4:35-41

Text: Mark 4:35-41
Theme: On board through the storm

Intr –  "One night when my youngest son was already in bed a thunderstorm broke out. After a very loud thunder, I heard him crying, and I went to his room to be with him and bring him comfort. He asked me then to stay with him until he would fall back asleep.

It was only when I was back in my bedroom I realized something: he didn’t ask me to make the thunderstorm go. He only asked me to stay with him.

         It is easy to read the Gospel today and fall for the analogy of Christ who calms the storms of our lives. It is not false, it is true. I know each one of you could tell about at least one situation in which He did so in your life. But the text is not an allegory, or a parable to teach about problems in general, the usual storms that come upon family, work, relationships. It was a life threatening situation. It was wind and water. It was a not so big boat. It was danger. It could signify a life and death issue.

         In the midst of that turmoil, Jesus was there. Sleeping, for sure; however He was there. But even so the disciples feared - to the point that, when they wake Him up they ask: “Do You not care?”

          That’s a strong question slash affirmation. Yes, Jesus, you don’t seem to care. Here we are fighting for our lives and You sleep. You don’t really seem to care.

         Those might have been Job’s thoughts during the suffering he underwent. He lost children, property, even his health was under jeopardy. His wife actually arrived to that conclusion. She asks him to curse God and die. Job doesn’t do so, but he is still puzzled by the fact that being a just man he would be suffering so much. In our OT reading today, we see God talking with him. Asking him to think for a minute if he is able to understand God’s mind.[1]

           In the midst of storms in life, here’s one of our biggest problems: our natural tendency to try to deciphrate God’s thoughts; God’s feelings. We try to nail down what God intended with this, or that, if God is punishing so and so, or if God is absent of the life of so and so. We might have had at some point in our lives asked with the disciples then: does God really care?

          This train of thought has already led to many derailings and sidetrackings; in many cases it ends up in a complete trainwreck. Some examples:

_If you suffer, you must have a big hidden sin.
_If you suffer, it’s because you don’t have enough faith;
_If you face storms, it is because you didnt pray enough, or read the Bible enough, or you might have been found in fault with your tithing.
_If you suffer, it’s because of fate, or karma, the law of return, the laws of the universe, etc.

          We must notice also that it is always easier to resort to some of the alternatives above when a “bad” person suffers. Not so easy though when a “good” one is under a thunderstorm in life. At least in our concept of what “bad” and “good” are.

          In many moments of our lives, what we are trying to do is to play a game called “I’m the Sovereign Creator”. We think we can get across heaven and hit the bullseye of the mind of God. We think we know what God is thinking. Creator and Creation by the way is a tranversal theme in the readings for today. Psalm 124 mentions God “who created heaven and earth”, as we say in our liturgy. When talking to Job God describes the Creation and asks Job where he was back then. In the Gospel we see Jesus exercising power over the Creation. Even in the Epistle, when Paul says “now is the day of salvation”, it resounds with Psalm 118 where we read: “This is the Day the Lord has created; let’s rejoice and be glad in it”.

          Now think about it: if we would be able to understand God’s mind, we would be God. We know that is not the truth. He is the Creator, we are His creatures, and by faith, His Children. If we want to utter what God has in mind, the only source we have is His Word.

           What do we have revealed by Him about facing storms in the Gospel today?

_He is always on board. We may think He is sleeping, He is not. That may be: LAW – and GOSPEL.
_He is always in control. Always.
_He is the one we resort to when our skills, strengths and forces are over. The disciples were experienced sailors. How many thunderstorms like that one they’ve had possibly faced in their lives? While Jesus was a carpenter, less than a rookie when it comes to navigating. Even so they despair all their skills and call for the Master.[2]
_Jesus calls them out because of their littleness of faith. They shouldn’t fear, because He is there. He calms the storm. We are never alone even when Jesus’ physical presence is not there.

         We can also draw the teaching here that storms do not come for the “bad” while the “good” are preserved of it. As sinners, we are all bad; we all suffer the consequences of it. But because Jesus is Good, his goodness is attributed to us, and so we are saved from sin and brought to God’s goodness; to His gracious hands of love, strength and protection.

         Now listen carefully to this one, because this might not be as pleasing as we would like it to be. Even if Jesus wasn’t physically there, even if their boat would sink and they would die, the same word remains: have no fear. Yes, have no fear. Whereas Jesus calms many storms in our life, there will come a storm that would make us sink: we know we will all die. So that’s when we can be despaired and be fearful because that one won’t be calmed down? Surely not. He is still there with us. He is still on board with us. He is still giving us strength and His love ‘til our last breath.

         Remember what happened to Jesus? The greatest storm ever was about to fall upon His head. He was in the Gethsemani. He asks the Father, if possible, to pass that cup from Him. But He also says “Thy will, not mine, be done”. The storm came. He was arrested, beaten, condemned, and eventually died. He faced the storm because He wanted to save us from the worst we could go – be sent away from God for eternity.

         Yes, we can always pray to God to calm the storms. We should pray in our time of need. He always listens. There are times though in which what we could ask from Him is not for lighter burdens, but for larger shoulders to bear them. Strength through the storm. The consequences of sin are all around in the world, and they hit us. Sometimes, they hit us hard. But He is always on board. He is always near. Also, knowing that He is the Creator gives us extra comfort and care. We know we are not here by chance. We were created and redeemed by a God who loves us, cares for us, creates hope and strength deep inside our hearts.

         As you go through the storms in life, join St. Paul in his confidence in Jesus through severe hardships:

“4 but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; 7 by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.”

Cc –  As a conclusion, here’s an illustration about going through hard times. Parents who already had the experience of taking their children to the first day of the first year of school know that can be a challenging experience for the kids. That’s the moment when they are removed from the safe ambient of home and family to a place which through the lens of the little one could be described as lonely and hostile.

          From the adults’ point of view it’s not a big deal. They drop the kid off in the morning and pick them up mid afternoon. An adult’s life runs fast, and it’s just a little over 6 hours of separation. But for the child... that’s different. Do you remember that as a kid the time notion was completely different? Everything seems to go slower. For him or her, it may look like a never-ending day. That’s when it may run through their little mind doubts, and anxiety and fear. “Where is my father, where is my mother? Did they turn their back on me, did they forget me altogether?”

        After what seems to have been eternity for them, comes 3:30, when their parent is there to pick them up. Relieve. Peace. Safeness inside the family car, in their loving presence and care.

       We can remember this illustration when we go through lonely and hard times in our existence, when the idea of a back-turned, dropping-off-anywhere Heavenly Father comes to the mind and the heart. Our time notion is different from His. We may become anxious, insecure, lost. Fear’s shadow may grow incredibly large.

      The Father has never forgotten us though. Jesus never takes His presence away from our lives, not even for a second. He was there all the time. He will always be, [3]

      He is on board with us through the storms. And He is there at the beginning and at the end of the day with His loving and caring presence.


[1] DAMAL You tube Channel -
[2] Lenski, Commentary on Mark.
[3] “Ele nao esquece”-