On September 22, Alison Van Buskirk Philip based her sermon on the story of the disciples waking Jesus up to calm the storm in Mark 4:35-41. “God’s attention to us is greater than our scattered attention to God,” she said. “Doubt, after the storm, turned to faith. Disappointment, after the crucifixion, turned to hope. The disciples knew something about God and community that they had not know before.” Here is an excerpt from her sermon:
As disciples we are invited and called to believe that:
- No fear can change the reality that we are marked by God and claimed by God as God’s own.
- No uncertainty can change the reality that God is in control of the sea and wind.
- No disappointment or criticism or failing or frustration can change the reality of who we are as God’s children.
And because of that reality, because God has claimed us as children, we are free. We are free to risk. We are free to listen, to really listen, to our neighbors. We are free to start fresh over and over again. We are free to be who we are and to give ourselves to the community where God has placed us. Because God claims us and holds us and loves us, we are free to love more fully and to grow in our love.
I think that is the point, really. The point is not always about getting rid of fear, getting rid of uncertainty, getting rid of disappointment. No, the point is about becoming people with an ever-increasing capacity to love God and an ever-increasing capacity to love our neighbors. The God we worship here together is a God who can use any storm, any disappointment, any cross to increase us in love. Of course, God needs our cooperation, which can be hard, and that’s also why we need each other. We come here together as a community to help each other grow toward that love of God and neighbor –through our worship, through our fellowship, through our service.
And so whatever disappointment may befall us, the cross, which forms our community and holds our community together, that cross is a hinge that tells us there is more to the story. The cross is a hinge that opens our disappointments, uncertainties, and fears into something new in ways that increase us in our love. Through the storms Christ still comes to us and says, “Peace, be still.” Through the cross Christ comes and says, “I am with you.” Through all things, Christ comes and says, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Let us give all of our thanks and our praise to this God who is God of the storm and God of the calm!
Photo by Elizabeh Van Buskirk