By Pastor John Schwehn
This morning we hear the familiar story of Jesus calming the storm from Mark’s gospel. As Jesus gets some needed sleep aboard their humble fishing vessel, the disciples are in a panic over the raging winds, the rising waves, the bumpy sea.
“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” they shout at the drowsy Jesus. And remember, these first disciples were mostly fishermen. Their fear is not fake or manufactured – the storm must have been really bad if these seafarers were so terrified!
But Jesus is leading them on a mission to “the other side” of the sea. Once the danger is behind them, the ministry continues just as before. Jesus leads them, undeterred, imploring the disciples to regain their faith and follow him into new territory where he will perform a shocking exorcism and go on proclaiming the kingdom of God.
Dear friends, we have been through a storm! A real one, with real danger and devastating consequences. For some of us, the storm will keep raging on until the day when all of us (including our children) are fully protected against this novel coronavirus. On the weekend that our nation experiences its inaugural federal holiday of Juneteenth, we remember that the storm of slavery kept raging on for two-and-a-half more years after President Lincoln delivered the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862. The news of slavery’s end did not reach Galveston until 1865. While one storm might end for some, it continues raging for others.
As we lift up our core value of “Building Community,” Jesus is calling this congregation to survey our community with fresh eyes and open minds. Where in New Brighton (and among our members at Christ the King) does the storm still rage? Many of us feel safe now, so what is “the other side” that we are being called to explore? Survival is not the end point. Rather, it frees us to venture back out with greater courage and resolve, trusting that our lives are in God's capable and compassionate hands.
Building community in this new reality may, at first, feel a bit like rebuilding as we reach out to the familiar, beloved faces we long to see again. However, our efforts of building and rebuilding point us to a new future – an unfamiliar shore – where we row through every storm and setback trusting that we worship a God who is always in the boat with us.