Quelling our Own Storms
First, I would like thank everyone and the monks for allowing me to have this opportunity to preach to this congregation for the last time as a YASCer.
While I was mediating on this passage, the terrorist attack on Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC has been on my mind a lot. This event highlights the deeply engraved racial inequality and issues that the US has been dealing with for the past few centuries. This tragedy shows the current reality of race in America and our lack of effort to address the issue. The context surrounding this horrible attack reminds me a lot of the gospel.
In our gospel reading today, we have the famous story of Jesus calming the storm. An early show of Christ's power gives a glimpse of Christ's nature. But this passage leads me to focus on the lack of the apostles actions than on Christ's actions. It seems to me that the apostles lost all hope facing the storm that their current reality became the only reality. They could not imagine or conceive of a reality after the storm.
Life today can feel much the same. With the many wars, poverty, Climate Change, racial inequality in this country and my own, and the countless other despair bringing news article and clips; it is quite easy for us to lose hope. To accept the way things are, because we are too overwhelmed to see past these many issues. It is easy for us to become complacent with this reality because we cannot think of an alternative; it becomes our one reality of life.
The fault in our faith is also much like the apostles. Christ's powerful retort "have you still no faith," to the apostles really made me think. What did he mean? What were the apostles lacking in their faith for such a retort from Christ? The first area of lack the apostles had was that they could not see past the storm. They could not picture an end to the storm, just an end to their life. Their fear blinded them from seeing the hope in God that things can and most importantly will get better. No storm lasts forever.
The second lack of the apostles' faith, they failed to see what they could do with their own prayer and hard work. These men became so trapped by this storm that they asked Jesus to deal with it. They knew that Jesus was close with god, and that God seemed to listen to him. They knew that Jesus could do something about it, and quickly. The apostle’s fear drove them to lay the work on Christ's shoulders. They placed the responsibility of fixing this reality on him.
Today's society can easily mirror the apostles’ situation. We can easily grow pessimistic about the world and its many large storms. We all at some point in our life are filled with despair questioning how the world can ever change. Our mindless acceptance of our current reality blinds us from seeing the hope of the future, of looking past the storms. We easily place sole responsibility and blame on our communities, churches, and leaders to fix the world's issues, and fail to see how we can make the change or how we may have caused the storm to occur. We cannot imagine how to address the issues at hand.
Though the apostles could not instantly quell the storm like Christ, they could quell the fear the storm brought. Through their own prayer and their understanding of God’s hope and love for them, they could find assurance of the storms’ end. They could work through the storm to prevent their perishing. There prayer of hope in the future can help them see past the storm and give them courage to barrel out water; row with the waves, and sail with the wind away from the storm. By no means is this easy, but their small attempts could help them weather the storm.
Of the modern day storms that harass our world, we must keep a prayerful spirit of hope and guidance of how we can help. As the heirs of Christ's ministry and assured by his love for us, our collective duty as Christ’s body should be working through the storm. In no way can we easily command our issues to stop, but we can see the little places of helping. Our small little acts in promoting the kingdom go a long way in bringing the storm to an end. Our optimism in a better future allows us to deny the status quo, and make a new reality in which all can be free and equal: the reality of the kingdom of God.
I would like to leave you with a poem that helped me understand this passage, and more importantly helped me find the hope in a better future. As some of you may know, one of my biggest heroes in the world is an 11 year old boy, named Robbie Novak, or otherwise known as Kid President. In one of his many inspirational videos, one in particular fits well with this Gospel. His "Tiny poem to the world" speaks to hope of a better tomorrow that we all can work towards. KP says,
The world is so big and we are all so small,
Sometimes it feels like we can't do anything at all.
But the world can be better
(In spite of its flaws)
The world can be better
And you'll be the cause
And even though the waves are bigger than our boat...
The wind keeps us sailing
Its love gives us hope
Some days it's dark
But we'll keep rowing,
Because people like you whisper,
Keep going, keep going, keep going.