Reflection – 27 June 2021

Here’s my reflection for Sunday 27 June.

If you’d like to join in our online worship follow this Zoom link. https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85061262911?pwd=SjFoODcvOVdFZUhTengxRVRkNzJPUT09

Our worship session starts at 11.00 British Summer Time.

Mark

Sunday 27 June 2021 – A Reflection

Blessed are You,
O Lord our God,
Wellspring of all that is.

You are the sea on which we float,
You are the wind that fills our sails,
You are the storm that buffets us,
You are the calm that brings us peace.

Open our ears to hear Your word,
Open our eyes to see Your beauty,
Open our hearts to be warmed by Your love.

Free us from our lonely prisons of fear and selfishness,
And make us over, day by day,
into bearers of Your peace.

The Lord’s Prayer

As it’s café service here’s the quiz. You should spot a theme when you’ve got a few of the answers.

1Soldiers of the Galactic Empire in the Star Wars films._ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
2Great outrage or excitement about a trivial matter_ _ _ _ _ / _ _ / _ / _ _ _ _ _ _
31971 hit single by The Doors_ _ _ _ _ _  / _ _ / _ _ _ / _ _ _ _ _
4Outdoor clothing brand_ _ _ _ _ / _ _ _ _ _
5First volume of Churchill’s history of WWII_ _ _  / _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ / _ _ _ _ _
6Real name of ‘The Human Torch’ in Marvel Comic’s Fantastic Four_ _ _ _ _ _ / _ _ _ _ _
7Song with opening lyrics ‘Don’t know why there’s no sun up in the sky’_ _ _ _ _ _ / _ _ _ _ _ _ _    
8Actress who claimed Donald Trump paid her hush money over an affair_ _ _ _ _ _ / _ _ _ _ _ _ _
9Bird with Latin name Hydrobates pelagicus_ _ _ _ _ / _ _ _ _ _ _
102000 film starring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg_ _ _ / _ _ _ _ _ _ _ / _ _ _ _ _  

The answers are at the end

It wasn’t difficult to find the word all the answers had in common.

First of we’re going to watch a film clip – it’s another film with George Clooney – The Perfect Storm

A storm at sea can still be terrifying even now. In 2014, with all our modern safety precautions and weather forecasting 94 ships over 100 tonnes in weight sank at sea.

How much more frequent must it have been for a ship to sink 2000 years ago, even on an inland sea like the Sea of Galilee.

We’re going to look again at a story that is dealt with in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke again this week. But first here’s a story of a storm from the Old Testament

Jonah 1:1-16

Jonah Disobeys the Lord

One day the Lord spoke to Jonah son of Amittai. He said, “Go to Nineveh, that great city, and speak out against it; I am aware of how wicked its people are.” Jonah, however, set out in the opposite direction in order to get away from the Lord. He went to Joppa, where he found a ship about to go to Spain. He paid his fare and went aboard with the crew to sail to Spain, where he would be away from the Lord.

But the Lord sent a strong wind on the sea, and the storm was so violent that the ship was in danger of breaking up. The sailors were terrified and cried out for help, each one to his own god. Then, in order to lessen the danger,[a] they threw the cargo[b] overboard. Meanwhile, Jonah had gone below and was lying in the ship’s hold, sound asleep.

The captain found him there and said to him, “What are you doing asleep? Get up and pray to your god for help. Maybe he will feel sorry for us and spare our lives.”

The sailors said to each other, “Let’s draw lots and find out who is to blame for getting us into this danger.” They did so, and Jonah’s name was drawn. So they said to him, “Now, then, tell us! Who is to blame for this? What are you doing here? What country do you come from? What is your nationality?”

“I am a Hebrew,” Jonah answered. “I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made land and sea.” Jonah went on to tell them that he was running away from the Lord.

The sailors were terrified, and said to him, “That was an awful thing to do!” The storm was getting worse all the time, so the sailors asked him, “What should we do to you to stop the storm?”

Jonah answered, “Throw me into the sea, and it will calm down. I know it is my fault that you are caught in this violent storm.”

Instead, the sailors tried to get the ship to shore, rowing with all their might. But the storm was becoming worse and worse, and they got nowhere. So they cried out to the Lord, “O Lord, we pray, don’t punish us with death for taking this man’s life! You, O Lord, are responsible for all this; it is your doing.” Then they picked Jonah up and threw him into the sea, and it calmed down at once. This made the sailors so afraid of the Lord that they offered a sacrifice and promised to serve him.

Here’s Mark’s version of our Gospel story, taken from ‘The Message’ translation:

Mark 4:35-41

Late that day he said to them, “Let’s go across to the other side.” They took him in the boat as he was. Other boats came along. A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it. And Jesus was in the stern, head on a pillow, sleeping! They roused him, saying, “Teacher, is it nothing to you that we’re going down?”

Awake now, he told the wind to pipe down and said to the sea, “Quiet! Settle down!” The wind ran out of breath; the sea became smooth as glass. Jesus reprimanded the disciples: “Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith at all?”

They were in absolute awe, staggered. “Who is this, anyway?” they asked. “Wind and sea at his beck and call!”

I want us to look at two pictures for a few minutes – both relating to the story of the Calming of the storm.

This first one is by Eugene Delacroix, painted in 1854.

The second one is by Breughel painted much earlier in 1596.

Which one do you prefer?

Are there any significant differences between them?

Let’s have our first hymn.

It’s ‘Be Still my Soul’ by a duo called Sounds Like Reign. And it’s performed inside a disused grain silo. For some reason.

Be still, my soul, The Lord is on your side
Bear patiently, the cross of grief or pain
Leave to tyour God, to order and provide
In every change, He faithful will remain
Be still, my soul, your best thy heavenly friend
Through thorny ways, leads to a joyful end

Be still, my soul, your God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake
All now mysterious shall be bright at last
Be still, my soul, the waves and wind still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below

Be still, my soul, the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored
Be still, my soul, when change and tears are past
All safe and blessed, we shall meet at last

Talk

So I do now want us to have a look at the different ways in which Mark Matthew and Luke tell the story.

Below are the 3 versions of the story. I’ve used the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible because that’s one that tries to get as near as possible to the original Greek.

These are the questions I’d like you to have a think about:

Questions

  1. What two things first strike you about the different versions?
  2. Looking at the bits only found in Mark
    1. Why do you think Mark included them? and/or
    2. Why do you think Matthew and Luke left them out?
Mark 4:35-41Matthew 8:23-27Luke 8:23-27
35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side.’ 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great gale arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 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?’ 39 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. 40 He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?’ 41 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?’23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24 A gale arose on the lake, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25 And they went and woke him up, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We are perishing!’ 26 And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, you of little faith?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. 27 They were amazed, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?’              23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24 A gale arose on the lake, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25 And they went and woke him up, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We are perishing!’ 26 And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, you of little faith?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. 27 They were amazed, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?’

Have a think for yourself before reading on

‘Let us go across to the other side’ – The other side of what?  Well it’s the other side of Lake Galilee. The next story in Mark’s gospel is the one where the demon-possessed herd of pigs are drowned in the sea – the Gaderene or Gerasene Swine. And that area is on the other side of Lake Galilee. Now one thing we know about the Jews is that they don’t farm pigs because they don’t eat pork. The other side of Lake Galilee where Jesus and the disciples were heading is non-Jewish – they are going into Gentile territory. So perhaps Mark is indicating that this story he’s telling has some relevance to the Gentiles.

‘Other boats were with them’ – in the other two versions of the story you could be forgiven for thinking that the only boat on Lake Galilee was the one with Jesus in it. A bit like the Delacroix painting that only showed that boat. How likely is that? Well Lake Galilee is 64 square miles. That’s well over twice the size of Nottingham City Council’s area. There would have been lots of boats on the water. And Mark thought it was important to point that out. Because surely the point is that Jesus isn’t just looking after those that are in his boat – those that already follow him, but is for absolutely everyone. Jesus offers calm and reassurance to anyone – whether you’ve asked him for it (like the disciples did) or not.

.

Teacher do you not care? – I think this sounds like a natural reaction. Here the disciples are, scared out of their wits by the storm, and the person they look to for guidance is fast asleep. Didn’t he ought to be doing something? You can imagine them saying this – it has the ring of authenticity. But Matthew and Mark don’t include it. Why not? Could it be that they are changing the story because they think Mark has showed disrespect to Jesus. Who are they to be asking questions of the Son of God? But Mark’s version is focussing not on the divinity of Jesus but on the humanity of the disciples and their needs.

‘Peace! Be still!’ – only Mark records the words Jesus spoke to the wind and the sea. Or were these words actually addressed to the disciples rather than the elements? And by extension to us today. No matter how bad things are, how worried you are, Jesus is offering us calmness, peace and reassurance that, in the end, everything will be Ok if we trust him. It’s not that there won’t be uncomfortable times, but that he’ll be with us as we face them and overcome them.

Let’s have our second song of the morning

Calm me, O Lord, as You calm the storm.

Still me, O Lord, keep me from harm.

Let all the tumult within me cease.

Enfold me, Lord, in Your peace.

Repeat x 6

Time for Prayer

Intercessions

Closing prayer

Peace. Be still. And the winds obeyed.
Be now as the winds.
You are my child.
I knew you long before you were knit in your mother’s womb.

Peace. Be still. My breath brings form to dust.
You were created a little lower than the angels,
created in my image.
You are my child. Peace. Be still.

Be as these winds, exhaled.
Wait on me, and I will give you rest.
The ninety-nine I would leave to find you.
The fall of a sparrow catches flight in my loving eye.

With my words, the worlds were.
My voice is small, still.
The waters know the sound of my voice and are stilled.
Wait on me, be renewed, and rise.

Amen.

Finally we will close by saying the grace:

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ

and the love of God

and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit

be with us all

evermore.

Amen

Quiz answers

  1. Stormtroopers
  2. Storm in a teacup
  3. Riders on the storm
  4. Peter Storm
  5. The Gathering Storm
  6. Johnny Storm
  7. Stormy Weather
  8. Stormy Daniels
  9. Storm Petrel
  10. The Perfect Storm

If anyone has any questions or comments about the above, or would like to talk to me about it don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Mark Taylor

07954 172823

newarkcongregational@virginmedia.com

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