+In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
These past couple of weeks I have seen a few storms pass through my life, this community and this nation. There were times when I thought I might drown in the waves crashing over my head while I tried to paddle. And just like the disciples in today’s gospel, there were a couple times when the fear paralyzed me. I just stopped paddling, wondering what I could do to prevent myself from going under. Going under the waves of grief from losing a guest of Edible Hope Kitchen, waves of anger at the hostility of neighbors and the increasing divides between the wealthy and the poor, waves of heartbreak as stories of children being ripped from their parents arms flood my conscience, and waves of vulnerability as I struggle to keep all parts of my life in order.
But I was not alone in my boat. Many of you were there alongside me. We paddled together. In fact many times when I was paralyzed with fear of drowning, there were others beside me who continued to paddle, helping me to reach shores along the way. And there were times when I was able to help paddle for others. But these waves haven’t gone away; they are still crashing against the boat.
It’s likely we will find ourselves, if we haven’t already, struggling against the waves and will ask Jesus, “Do you not care that we are perishing?” Don’t you see that people are dying in our streets? Don’t you see that children along our borders are being permanently traumatized? Don’t you see we are paralyzed with fear and anger? Why are you sleeping?!!
Why is Jesus sleeping in today’s gospel?
It’s a good question. Why should we see Jesus sleeping while a storm rages as good news? Jesus sleeping on the boat is good news because it means that Jesus was truly human. He needed time to rest and recharge after a long day of teaching. He needed others to paddle for him in order that they could continue on to the other side where more work would be required. It means Jesus knows what it means to be tired and have the need for sleep.
And yet, Jesus is also the Son of God, and has the authority of God to still the waves. To call out and say “Peace! Be still!” and have the winds stop, the waves fall flat. To take comfort and rest in the power of God.
Today’s gospel gives us permission to do likewise as the Body of Christ. To take rest when we are in need, and when we have rested, to hear the call of our neighbors to wake and use our voice to calm the winds and waves of oppression, poverty, torture and racism. We must speak out for peace among our neighbors. We cannot let the cries go unheard. I unfortunately got a glimpse of what it feels like to have one’s cries go unheard or ignored, when I broke my ankle and had neighbors pass me by out of fear or inattention. It broke my heart for those who I know face this daily living on our streets, in our detention centers and in our jails. So we must rest up and be ready to speak up, reach out and paddle for our lives and those of our neighbors crying out.
We need not be afraid, with just the faith of a mustard seed, we can bring the Kingdom of God into existence. We must have faith that this is not the world God wants for us, his children.
Now the work of bringing the Kingdom of God into existence is a big job, gigantic in fact, a feat as large as David killing Goliath. Both these readings speak of the logical fear almost all have in the face of seemingly impossible tasks. Just as the disciples are paralyzed by fears of drowning at night in the middle of the Sea of Galilee during a storm, the armies of Israel and King Saul are paralyzed with the fear of facing Goliath.
But David and Jesus know that nothing is impossible with God. Because of this knowledge, David a young boy, with no experience of battle seemed confident to offer himself to take on Goliath, a lifelong warrior and a giant of a man. David was successful in a feat that seemed impossible, and was impossible without the skills and tools provided by God. David was not successful because he wore the armor of Saul or carried the king’s sword; No David was successful because he shed this items and instead trusted that God had already provided him with what he needed.
How often are we told we aren’t what is needed for the job, that we don’t have the right skills or tools. But what if instead of listening to these voices, we instead listened to God. What is God telling us? Is God telling us that he has made us for his purpose and given us the tools for his task? Is God telling us we need not be afraid?
We are all needed in one way or another to bring the Kingdom of God into our world, it is a gigantic job, but God has given us the tools, and reminds us that the Holy Spirit resides within us, enabling us all to take on the task. Not because we are so powerful, but because we go with God. Let us all go confidently to the battlefield to take down the Goliaths standing in our way, unburdened from the weight of the “armor” of others, and perfectly equipped.