Stormy Weather ~ The Rt. Rev. Michael R. Beckett, OPI
Did you ever have one of those days? You know, one of THOSE days when you were tired, when you had had enuf, when you just wanted a break? When you wanted to get away? Me, too. And apparently Jesus and the disciples had them on occasion. In the Gospel reading for today, we find that Jesus wanted to ‘cross over to the other side’ of the Sea, so that he could have some time alone, away from the crowds, and with his disciples for some quality time, I would imagine. The disciples were all for it, and away they went. Jesus needed a break. He gets in the boat, and goes to sleep.
And then it stormed….. Not just your average run of the mill storm, but a STORM…..at sea even. Thunder. BOOM! Lightening. FLASH! Waves so high over the little boat that it was tossed about. CRASH! And to top it off, the boat started filling up with water. SLOSH…..Sink? And Jesus slept on. And on. And on.
And then it happened. The disciples, those stalwart fishermen, panicked; so much so that they wanted Jesus to panic, too. So, they woke him.
Now, I dunno about Jesus, and I’m pretty sure they didn’t have a Keurig on that boat, but anyone who knows me well, knows, that no matter what, one does NOT speak to the Bishop when he first wakes up until after his (at least) second cup of coffee. Can you not see Jesus? He throws the blanket off and says, WHAT?
The disciples point out the storm, Jesus’s eyes focus, and then he gets it. He understands what all the fuss is about…..and then, like so many of us, he says,
I can just imagine him rolling his eyes. He quiets the storm, grumbles, and goes back to sleep…..and the disciples are tripped!
This past week, we have had a storm…a dreadful, dangerous, haunting storm. And we are still in the midst of that storm. This past week, the thunder of gunshots rang out at Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC. This week, there have been torrents, waves of tears. This week there have been flashes of anger. This week, we have, many of us, felt that we were in danger of sinking. This week we have, all of us, felt the sense of being overwhelmed: with sadness; with grief; with disbelief; with horror. I am certain that this week there are those who wondered if God slept.
This week, we have seen evidence, proof, that God does not sleep. That God is very much awake, and involved, in our lives. This week we have seen the families of those martyred in Charleston demonstrate to the world what Love is all about: Forgiveness. Charity. Good will. Reaching out. Love. When we heard the victims’ families say to the young man who killed their family members things like, “I forgive you.” “We will pray for you,” we know that we have seen Christ in action. This week we have seen countless thousands come together to support each other, regardless of race, religion, creed, or any of the other differences that often divide us. This week we have seen, we pray, the beginning of the end of this storm of racial divide.
This storm is far from over. FAR from over. Before this storm ends, hearts will have to change, attitudes will have to change, laws, rules, regulations, the government, will have to change, society will have to change. And before any of that can happen, WE will have to change. We will, all of us, have to examine ourselves carefully, and honestly, to find the roots of our prejudice, our fears of those who are ‘other’ than ourselves. We will have to look with new eyes at all of those with whom we come into contact, ALL of them, EVERY ONE of them, and strive to find the Jesus in each of them. The Jesus in us must reach out to the Jesus in our brothers and sisters, regardless of race, creed, color, gender, gender identity, sexual preference, ability or disability, or any of the other million and one things we use to denigrate, disgrace, and damn our brothers and sisters.
Like the disciples, we will be afraid. Sometimes we may even panic. But I can assure you that, like the disciples, we can go to Jesus. And when we do, he will say to us, “Peace. Be still.” And in the calm and quiet that results from our trust in Him, we will be able, with full hearts, learn to love our neighbors as ourselves.
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