Life’s Storms

(A printout from Sabrina’s VLOG which is on the website and our facebook page

with thanks to Les, Terry and Diane for their help).

 

I’m Sabrina Ingram and I’m the minister of St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church in Peterborough, On.

 

Recent Events have stretched us and challenged us to do things differently.  We’ve been doing a lot more with technology and we considered live-streaming a whole service but it’s been said there’s a fine line between a long drawn-out sermon and a hostage situation.   We didn’t want to put you in a hostage situation so I’m going to share a brief reflection today and I hope it will be an encouragement to you.

 

Today I’m going to talk about life’s storms.  Life has many storms.  There are metaphorical like emotions stirred by betrayal;  There are storms of injustice and violation; and, of course, there are actual storms like hurricane Dorian.

 

Right now, the world is immersed in one right now.  CoVid- 19 is a unique storm – hitting the entire world all at once .   As one person put it:

 “This virus does not spare any race, age, gender, socioeconomic group and has no borders….therefore we are globally equal and united.  Isn’t that novel?”

 

Whether we feel like we’re in this together or alone:  Storms are scary.  They leave devastation, injury and death in their path.   We hear of 1000’s of people dying every day; our governments are advising us to practice social distancing and isolation;  last week ½ million applied for employment insurance and my son, who just happens to work for EI said that on the same week last year they had 27,000 applications, so that’s a massive leap.  The streets are empty, and the shelves in the stores are bare; I told one person that it felt like Jesus had returned and I’d been left behind.

 

All of this creates panic  and it raises question whom or what do we trust?

 

There is a story of a tourist fishing boat that is out on the ocean when a storm arises.  The Captain turns to his passengers and asks, “Does anyone here know how to pray?”  One man steps forward and says “Yes, Captain, I can”.  “Good”, responds the Captain, “you pray, the rest of us will put on these life jackets.  We’re one short”

 

The implication in that story is that in a concrete situation we’d rather have a concrete solution – we’d rather have a life jacket than rely on prayer.

 

In the scripture there is an account of Jesus and disciples, his friends, in a boat out on the sea of Galilee when a storm blew up.  I’d like to read that to you.  It’s from the Gospel according to Mark 4: 35 – 39:

 

 Late that day he said to them, “Let’s go across to the other side.” They took him in the boat as he was.   Other boats came along.  A huge storm came up.  Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it.   And Jesus was in the stern, head on a pillow, sleeping!  They roused him, saying, “Teacher, is it nothing to you that we’re going down?”

39-40 Awake now, he told the wind to pipe down and said to the sea, “Quiet!  Settle down!” The wind ran out of breath; the sea became smooth as glass.  Jesus reprimanded the disciples: “Why are you so afraid?  Don’t you have any faith at all?”

41 They were in absolute awe, staggered.  “Who is this, anyway?” they asked.  “Wind and sea at his beck and call!”

Now the disciples experienced fishermen and try as they might, they couldn’t keep the boat steady, they couldn’t control it and they were terrified they were going to drown.    When a storm hits us, we do the same thing, we try to control the boat.   We put safety precautions into practice, we try to smooth and stretch out the curve, we give the best treatment possible to most people.   These things are wise and compassion things to do, so we do what we can.

 

What we can’t do, is control the wind and the sea.  We can’t control the virus – at least not yet – there is no vaccination and no cure.   And that leaves us feeling worked up and anxious.  We become fearful and filled with turmoil.  We wonder where God is?   And we look at Jesus, asleep in the storm and we are resentful that he is peaceful when we are frantic.   Instead of uniting ourselves with Jesus, we look around and become one with the storm.  All that fury moves inside us.  The dark, roiling clouds, the blowing wind, and the raging sea move within us.

 

But there is an option.  We can choose to be one with Jesus.  We can share his peace.  We can allow his peace and serenity to move into our spirits, into our souls and into our hearts.  And we can rest in the assurance that he is calm and able to do what we can’t.

 

In the coming days, I urge you to do all you can to deflect the storm – put on all the life-jackets that we have.

 

And I also pray encourage you to pray, asking the peace of Christ to fill you and calm you; knowing there is One who can and will bring this storm to an end.

 

Please allow me to pray for you:

Lord Jesus we thank you that you are peace in the midst of the storm and that you are willing to share that peace with us.  We pray that you will be with each person watching today and bless them and keep them well.  We pray in your precious name.  Amen.

 

May God bless you and keep you all.