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St Matthews Church Oxhey Hertfordshire

Fr David's Sermon


25th June 2006

Fr David Shepherd

Trinity II

A few years ago I learnt to sail a dingy at Bury Lake at the Aquadrome. I’m still not very good at it and I’m only slowly getting the hang of it. When you learn you have to do the capsize drill in windy conditions. If you don’t go over naturally the instructors come along and push you in. There’s no avoiding getting wet. Bury Lake is no Galilee or any other sea. If the conditions are too bad no one sails and such an inland lake never has big waves so any resemblances to today’s Gospel passage are very slight.

Most of us use nautical phrases in daily life. When we talking about our human condition we often say that we ‘are in the same boat’ or ‘all at sea’. Such expressions reflect our seafaring tradition as an island race. Such phrases apply to the disciples in today’s gospel. The disciples were all in the same boat with Jesus and all at sea in a storm. The passage is often suggested for prayerful reflection, because it connects with our innermost experiences and needs.

Such a voyage across Galilee was commonplace for Jesus and the disciples. Some of the disciples regularly took to the lake as fishermen. All would have accompanied Jesus as they shared in his ministry or sought recreation with him away from the crowds. Small boats were used for both work and escape.

Mark places this voyage between an account of Jesus’ teaching and his performing of a demanding exorcism. The voyage across the lake enabled Jesus to recharge. He soon fell asleep.

Sudden gales are very much a feature of the Sea of Galilee. Small boats were easily wrecked, just like Swallow on Lake Conniston, in Arthur Ransome’s Swallowdale. Soon the disciples’ boat was taking water and they were in danger of sinking. In terror they woke Jesus up, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ Jesus, we are told rebuked the wind and waves. ‘Then the wind ceased and there was a dead calm’. The disciples were amazed and afraid, questioning the identity of one who had such authority.

So much for the outline of the gospel story of the stilling of the storm, how can we apply it to our lives? Here are two suggestions, one corporate the other personal.

In the ship which is this church, in a boat sailing in our mind’s eye I suggest we spend a few moments letting our imaginations wander, with Jesus in the boat, all at sea, prayerfully seeking his calm in the storms of life.

Amen

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