This was July 30, 2006. Just ran across it looking for my sermon for this week.
So, here, in the middle of summer—a time of relaxation and recreation—we are confronted with two powerful, unavoidable images.
Elijah is taken away in the whirlwind, in a chariot of fire pulled by horses of fire.
And Jesus walks on the water.
You’d think God would leave us be for a while…let us rest and “kick back”. Instead we have whirlwinds and water-walking.
So, what are we to make of this? How are we to lean into the flaming chariot and the water walking? What does it mean to me and you?
God calls us to miraculous moments—events and experiences outside the realm of reason. God calls us to see the chariot and to watch Jesus cross the sea on foot. God calls us to be MORE THAN WE CAN BE….
The disciples had been there for the feeding. They had seen the 5000 full and more on five loaves and two dried fish. They had gathered the remains themselves—7 baskets full some of the accounts tell us, or 12 baskets full in other tellings of the tale.
They had seen all that and Jesus had sent them ahead while he went up into the lonely places to pray. So, off they went in their little boat to cross the Sea of Galilee.
That Sea (no more than a large lake, really) is in a strange place. The wet eastern winds off the Mediterranean collide with the Golan Heights on the East side of Galilee and are bounced back to the heat and low pressure around the sea. Sudden and rough storms result.
That’s what happened to the disciples. Jesus saw it all from the western shore. They were rowing against the wind and waves.
So he decided to walk.
As he was passing them by, leaving them to their own resources, they saw him and cried out in fear, already anxious about the sea. They thought it was a ghost and they were terrified.
Jesus heard their cries and came to them, walking on the sea. He entered the boat and the storm ceased and they were all astonished.
It’s all about “seeing God” around us, when the seas are rough.
It’s all about calling out to God, even if what we call is wrong.
It’s all about knowing God will be with us, no matter how fearful or anxious we are.
I talked about this at a nursing home when I was doing the eucharist last week. And all those people—many in wheel chairs, some in the last stages of life, all of them cut off from what you and I think of as “normal”….all those people nodded and understood.
More than we do, I would imagine. More than we understand.
The sea is so big and our boat is so small.
Storms come rolling up when least expected.
Life is hard and confusing and painful and confounding.
In the storm tossed darkness we often see ghosts.
And we almost never “truly understand”.
Mark is telling us all that is alright, all that is as it simply is.
But Mark is telling us more—much more than that.
No matter what—Jesus is near; no matter what—God is close; no matter what—we are not along; no matter what—help is on the way.
Just that. That and nothing else.
It is all we can understand and all we need to know….