I usually write my sermons in a strange kind of semi-note shorthand, which I have developed over the years, and which works for me. It does mean, however, that when people ask me for a copy of my sermon, it’s not easy to read.
Last Sunday I preached on the stilling of the storm in Luke’s Gospel (Like 8.22-25). As I was preparing I felt that I should write it and present it as an extended reflection rather than a traditional delivered sermon. So I sat in my stall and read it. With sermons there are lots of words coming at you … but with this I was able to leave pauses (indicated by spaces in the text) which I hoped would allow images and ideas to stay for a while.
Anyway, enough people said that they found it helpful to prompt me to send it out, so here it is! (I hope the formatting remains when it arrives.) This Sunday’s sermon will be a development of it. I’ve put the text from Luke at the end, so do scroll down and read that before you begin.
One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side of the lake.’ So they put out, and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A gale swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in danger. They went to him and woke him up, shouting, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ They were afraid and amazed, and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?’
I pray that God may awaken something helpful in you.
I remember a conversation with a sculptor
she said that she looked at the block of stone
and saw the sculpture within.
her work was to bring out what is already there.
So our relationship with Christ
God, divine sculptor, with the tools of the Holy Spirit
sees all the goodness and beauty in each one of us …
and brings out what was in his mind when made us.
The Gospel reading, imagine it.
The lake as big as a sea – the sudden storm.
The boat pitching and rolling –
the fisherdisciples, expert sailors … afraid.
And Jesus, asleep.
Might put a caption on the scene:
‘Don’t just sit there, do something’
And Jesus wakes and speaks into their fear, ‘Peace, be still’
In a book by Buddhist – Tich Nhat Hanh
there’s a chapter: ‘Don’t just do something, sit there’
When he was young he saw a Zen master sitting on a small platform, looking at a table on which was a simple vase of flowers.
He was struck by the beautiful attentiveness of the master,
and knew that came from the very core of his being.
What if we consider the stilling of the storm a different way.
Rather than Jesus removing the storm –
what if he allows beauty and peace to emerge,
it’s that which is able to dispel the storm.
The peace and presence of God.
Reading the Gospels,
I wonder if this is a picture of how Jesus was all the time
the peace he brought out of any situation.
a condemned adulteress
a disturbed disciple
a hungry crowd – and angry one …
the troubled body of the sick, the possessed, the excluded
So how can Christ call out the peace in us?
Because Christ’s presence, Christ’s peace
is not just in moments of conflict
not just then …
but in all things, throughout all time.
From the beginning.
Because all things were made through him, (John 1)
his beauty, his peace are in all things.
Franciscan Richard Rohr wrote this week
If you scale history down to one year, with the Big Bang on January 1, then humans don’t appear until December 31, at 11.59. That means … Christianity appeared in the last nanosecond of the year. I can’t believe that God had nothing to say until the last moment. Rather, God has been revealing his love, goodness, and beauty since the very beginning through the natural world of creation. “God looked at everything God had made, and found it very good” (Genesis 1:31).
The presence of God is the intrinsic value and beauty of creation, elements, plants, and animals …
God’s beauty and peace is in all things.
And our connection to even the tiniest part
releases God’s presence in us.
It is to be rooted in presence of God.
But we are not always fed by that goodness.
Just before Christmas
I was with someone who is finding life hard.
For him there is nowhere to turn for peace,
It felt like being in water, out of his depth
and having nowhere to put a foot down
to find respite from the flailing around.
He felt he was gasping for air.
tormented with worries, concerns,
even though he said he had so much:
home, family, friends …
But he couldn’t help it.
And to compound it all, he blamed himself
for feeling the way he does.
when so many others were so much worse off.
This was his storm.
We talked about how root of our storm
are sunk into the mess and mayhem of our lives.
And our minds feed us the lies of inadequacy, disconnectedness
of being out of control, or ruled by resentment, regret.
Jesus invites us to go deeper.
To allow our roots to explore deeper,
to the very core of our being,
for this is where we find our true selves,
all the goodness God made us with, and sees in us …
Peace, be still … mind, ideas that say we’re out of control
mind that plays familiar internal films
and lies that condemn us.
Like in the boat, Christ, come awake in us.
In the stillness of our centre, where you are …
May I dare to seek you in the honesty of who I am …
Christ, be present in all I am –
even the things I keep hidden from you,
from others, from myself …
And as I awaken to your love within,
all these fade in the light of your presence in me.
As I seek your goodness
not just in me, but in all things …
I am nourished with your truth –
with all I need to grow, to release what is in me.
and be aware of my place
in the beauty of things.
Then what is good in us, what is God in us
And that calming, still presence can nourish the world
because it’s in our peace, that God’s peace is present.