Sermon – 06-20-21 – Proper 7 – Cycle B
Scriptures: Job 38:1-11; Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32; 2 Corinthians 6:1-13; Mark 4:35-41
Sermon Title: “Who Then Is This?
Have you helped someone but you don’t know much about the person – maybe nothing? Here are the disciples of Jesus, giving up their way of living, giving up their families for the most part, walking from here to there and back again following this charismatic healer and preacher. Charismatic? 1) exercising a compelling charm which inspires devotion in others:
“a charismatic leader” or 2) relating to the charismatic movement in the Christian Church.
Since we are talking about the first century after Christ’s birth, this early Christian Church could be said to be charismatic. Certainly Jesus is charismatic. Why else would people follow him? He exercises a compelling charm which inspires devotion in others. It certainly seems to fit. What about the second meaning, relating to the charismatic movement in the Christian Church? It had to be a charismatic attraction for this movement of breaking from the Jewish tradition to happen.
But this statement about a charismatic movement in the Christian Church also applies to our current-day church status. There is something happening in the mega churches for which people are thirsting. Is it a show-business atmosphere? Is it music that makes people’s bodies want to move in questionable ways?
Well, whatever it is about Jesus that draws the twelve official disciples and other followers to leave their livelihoods and families, these men are definitely following. Actually, women also. But the women could keep their sources of livelihood to support this band of men. We are talking about supplies and services. Why? They do not quite understand his relationship with God. Yet people give their time, money, and whole lives to let go of personal possessions.
In our Gospel story today, Jesus is sleeping. Did you find him in the cover picture? Sleeping during a violent storm. The disciples are frantic; drowning is uppermost in their minds. Even the disciples who had made their living by fishing in the ocean waters do not think they are going to weather this particular weather. Did you notice the other boats nearby?
When they finally decide to wake Jesus, immediately the wind and the waves stop! “Who then is this?” they say with wonderment in their eyes. We assume that the wind and rain stopped for the other boats also. Were those sailors asking the same question: “Who then is this?” All of this unknown. All of this doubt and questioning. Who then is this?
Who indeed? When finally the tumult in the Jewish establishment and with the Roman authorities took a break after the crucifixion, along comes the risen Jesus Christ. Who then is this? Only God could do this! This must be the predicted Messiah; the prophesied Messiah. And still after Jesus was lifted into heaven to be with the Father while still being with us through the Holy Spirit, the followers gave all that they had and more to grow the church. Was it all glory? Not much glory to be seen. Hard work and danger, more likely. Most of those twelve disciples died horrible deaths because they were being the broadcasters of news which was not wanted.
In fact, these 1st century workers for the kingdom were trying to save people more than they were trying to save themselves. Paul’s writing to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 6:1-13, uses the word “salvation.” Salvation from what? At first I was thinking it was salvation from our sins. That is usually how we hear the word “salvation.” But, before we sin, God provides salvation from attacks by Satan. How does Satan attack? Let’s look at Paul’s writing. He says they needed to use great endurance for afflictions, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, and hunger. They countered these testing times with qualities such as purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God.
Paul lists opposites just like Satan versus Jesus. We have: honor and dishonor, ill repute and good repute; imposters and true; unknown and well known; as dying and alive; as punished but not yet killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor and rich; having nothing and possessing everything. Salvation can be ours no matter in which state of mind we find ourselves. Salvation can move us from the negative to the positive, from the glass half empty to the glass half full.
We can apply these attitudes to our own church life in Zion UCC Womelsdorf. Having a negative attitude toward our life together does not exclude us from God’s mercy and salvation but we are lacking the wind of the Holy Spirit. These are not dangerous winds like from the ocean. The winds of the Holy Spirit are inexpressible. The joy of seeing things from the side of hope, from the side of “Jesus with us;” from the side of Jesus being in control so we don’t need to be in control. We can let Jesus’ love and care and God’s will wash over us.” We don’t need to be saved from these waves. They will “glide” us through the storm of uncharted waters. I am referring to our building. We need to let God’s waves wash over us and glide us to the right state of being in the right location.
Do you know much about Job? The book of Job is placed just before the Psalms in our Bible. Job was rich. Apparently, he came by his wealth honestly because it does not seem to be the issue. Job is a long book because Job and his friends go back and forth and back and forth about why Job has now become tormented by losing his cattle, his lands, his children, his health.
Job says he has done nothing wrong. His friends say he must have done something to displease God. In fact, the wrong thing is that Job does not have humility. He sort of thinks he is his own God. God just listens for chapter and chapter while the conversation goes on between Job and his three friends. Finally, God speaks. Listen up, Job! What makes you so sure of yourself?
Then God proceeds to set before Job a beautiful grand vision of creation, describing God’s ordering of the cosmos and inviting Job to marvel at its beauty. It is the half-full glass. It is the joy knowing what God can do for us. God placed boundaries around the ocean. Before God did that, the ocean was over all the earth.
Sometimes we are like the waves. We don’t stay within reasonable boundaries. We think we know best about our boundaries. We don’t. The waves belong to God – made by him, sustained by him, and made best by him. So, you are now going to say, “Rev. M, why then does God not bring peace to the waves in our hurricanes, in our lives. We want to hear, “Peace be still for the waves.” God is saying “Peace be still!” to us. And we feel the saving blanket of peace settling into our lives – our hearts and minds.