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Archive for June 23rd, 2015

Text:  St. Mark 4:35–41

There is some rock song with the nutty refrain, “But I choose free will”.  “Free will” means we  choose God, the good etc. So why didn’t those disciples, since by free will, they supposedly chose God and His Christ, have great faith, that the Author of all good would care enough to save them?  The disciples had no faith as when they said to Jesus, don’t you care that we are perishing. Regarding those think they choose free will, “I might wish that  they had been in the boat with the disciples and experienced free will’s capacity in time of extremity and need.”  Those who boast in great faith are likely to be bold, impudent souls, like Peter, Let me walk on the water  to you, I won’t forsake you, etc. have such ‘great’ faith as long as the sea is calm and the weather is good.  When disaster strikes such faith sinks like a rock in the stormy gale.  “So much for ‘glorious’ free will then!” (Luther)

Even when disaster looms and the enemy looms like a flood about to sweep us, as the Psalmist prayed,

“…Blessed be the Lord, (not our good decisions about the Lord)
    who has not given us
    as prey to their teeth!
We have escaped like a bird
    from the snare of the fowlers;
the snare is broken,
    and we have escaped!

The Psalmist learned through the Lord’s salvation from the enemy, from disaster:

“Our help is in the name of the Lord,

who made heaven and earth.”

There are times we all know in our lives this is true…and there are times in the Lord saved us from disaster and we don’t know it but we will find out about in the Day. Either way, the Word is clear:  The Lord saves us from disaster.

If my faith is built on a feeling inside then the ride is going to be really rough.  The world, the flesh and the devil want us to be looking only one way:  inside, incurvatus se, curved in upon one self.  At the least the disciples were learning through the storm, they could not save themselves through it.  As the old saying, Man’s necessity is God’s opportunity.  They had enough faith to waken Jesus but not the faith to trust Him at His Word and in His Word as to Who He was and is, that even asleep, He cared more than they could of ever imagined at the time.  The disciples knew they had nothing then and there in themselves to save themselves.  If we did, Jesus would have been a spiritual coach, not the Savior of the world.  He is the Savior.  The Lord always wants us to look out and up, not in.

When disaster strikes the mad world, when it’s supposed free will utterly fails, it seeks someone or something to blame.  We can hear it again as we listened to the news reports about the murders in Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, SC.  It’s lack of gun control, lack of free mental health counseling, it’s Fox news, it’s video games.  Nine people, including their shepherd, murdered during Bible study and prayer.  The media is amazed as to the other response:  people inside and outside Emanuel A. M. E. praying.  These are men and women of faith, not flaying about looking for victims to blame, but praying to their Lord their sorrow, doubt and need. I would guess even praying for the murderer, who bears the blame, and as we heard the family members forgiving Dylann Roof.  Lord, save.  Kyrie eleison.  One day it will be known that as Jesus wanted to go to other  side that day in Galilee, and He guided the disciples through the storm to the other side, so it will be known He has guided His 9 daughters and sons to the other side, where there is no world media reporting, only the angels rejoicing. Indeed, “Our help is in the name of the Lord,  who made heaven and earth.”   The Lord saves us through disaster. 

We can understand the Lord who saves us from a disaster, and even through the disaster, but there is a third way He saves and it is contrary to all human reasoning and powers.  The Lord who saved the Psalmist, and with him Israel,  from the disaster of the torrents of the enemy, and saved the 12 disciples, and His Church, through the storm, would Himself be overwhelmed and all the flood of sin washed over Him who knew no sin.  He bore the filth of wrong to make us clean as His own to do the right in Christ alone, for as He said, without Me you can do nothing. The ship of His Body, true God, swamped with the deluge of our violence.  The Lord saves us from disaster. The Lord saves us through disaster. He became our disaster, not a disaster waiting to happen, but as it has happened.  

Je suis Charlie, became the slogan after the massacre in Paris at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo:  “I am Charlie”.  It can be said,  Je suis Dylann.  I am Dylann. We have met the enemy and he is us.  Now it is said about the murderer, he is just plain evil.  Maybe, but that means we’re off the hook, until God’s Law shows us we too are capable of all sorts of evil, as King David found out after he went into Bathsheba. When we see evil it is also to show it is within us.  When the Lord called out to Adam and Eve, Where are you?, He knew where they were:  hiding, running away.  When we do wrong, hiding and running away are the first impulse. Adam came out and said , I was afraid so  I hid.  He confessed his feelings of guilt, but not his guilt.  The Lord’s just judgment upon us  fell upon Him who is the judge of all, and this is the atonement.  The Lord has saved the world, us, by the disaster, the disaster of the Cross, when the sun did not shine and 3pm became as midnight, and the stars did not shine.  The disciples took Jesus into the boat, we are told, “…just as He was”, not knowing Who He was…and is.  He was nailed to the Cross, just as He was, bleeding, sweating, dying, just as He was bearing the disaster of sin and evil upon Himself. He was taken down from the Cross just as He was:  dead, dead in sin who knew no sin.  On the third day, He arose, just as He is:  the crucified and risen Lord of us all, carrying no sin, only our salvation.  Then the disciples knew the answer to their question in the boat:  “Who can this be? Even the winds and the sea obey him.”  He is natural man and absolutely God. Looking in is confession of sin, looking out and up is to the Word of Christ, Christ Jesus Himself, is for His forgiveness, absolution. The Lord saved us by the disaster.

We are all in the same boat, the Church and Christ is with us. The place in a Sanctuary where the Lord’s people sit, stand, even kneel in prayer to receive the Lord’s gifts is called the “nave”, from the Latin, “navis” or “ship”, from “navis” comes our word “navy”.    When the storms hit and the threatening waters start coming in, there is no way to bail it all out on our own, and…

“…it seems that He doesn’t see them, knows nothing of their trials, is indifferent about them, yes, as though they were not His worry—like here in the ship. He lies there sleeping and pays no attention to the weather, His disciples, or the ship. But He is with the ship even though He sleeps. Even though we think that Christ does not hear or see the thunderstorm, the wind, and the sea, He hears and sees it nonetheless. Therefore, we should make this a maxim: Even though He sleeps, Christ is in the boat.(Luther)

There is a Yiddish tale of men in a boat and the storm comes up and the boat is taking on water.  They start bailing but one man where he is sitting calmly  takes out a drill and begins to drill  a hole in the bottom of the boat to let out the water. A man yells at him, Why are you doing that, we’re sinking?  The man replied, But it’s under my seat.  Such is the suffocating selfishness that only holiness can ventilate and the Holy Spirit preaches and teaches us Jesus Christ. And when such happens, again, don’t look inside to your feelings as the norm, look to the One who is the Savior, so…

On hearing yourself insulted, you long to retaliate; but the joy of revenge brings with it another kind of misfortune—shipwreck. Why is this? Because Christ is asleep in you. What do I mean? I mean you have forgotten his presence. Rouse him, then; remember him, let him keep watch within you, pay heed to him…. A temptation arises- it is the wind. It disturbs you: it is the surging of the sea. This is the moment to awaken Christ and let him remind you of those words: “Who can this be? Even the winds and the sea obey him.” (St. Augustine)

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

.

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Prayer of the Day

Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe, remember now in mercy the justices of our Supreme Court. Strengthen them with sound reason to defend the institution of marriage against every dilution of Your plan that it be the life-long union of one man and one woman. Hear us, we pray, in Your holy Name. Amen.                                        

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