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GROWING IN FAITH


Pentecost IV - Year B

1 Samuel 17:1a, 4-11, 19-23, 32-49

Psalm 9:9-20

2 Corinthians 6:1-13

Mark 4:35-41


Growing in Faith


It was a great day for a picnic – the kind of early summer day that we all yearn for in January… and February… and March.

Those huge cumulus clouds, the white puffy kind, hung gently overhead, occasionally covering the sun – ever so briefly – just to giving variety to the sky. It was a reminder of the dynamic day.

And there, along the lakeside, the children were just putting on their swimmies, and little life jackets, ready to get into the water after lunch and the rest that had followed.

There was a lot of excitement because this was the end-of-term school picnic and field day. Teachers and parents were in abundance to take part, to see that the children had a good and safe time.

The adults were also there to enjoy the glory of the day themselves. Maybe some would join the Lunch Bunch next year.

It was a great day to be out in God’s world.

It had been a long day, a very long day. Jesus had spent it, from early in the morning, talking to the crowds that had gathered round to hear him.

Throngs of people were there with the disciples, the crop of twelve he had just picked to be his close associates. He had gathered them up there on the northern part of Galilee, right there on the shores of that huge lake.

There had been so much energy in that day! Villagers and fishermen, women with little ones jostling had been edging in closer to hear him.

Jesus had been inspired and kept going, finding new ways to explain the kingdom of God to people who were hungry, so hungry to hear more. They wanted to understand.

Finally, at last, evening came. He knew they needed a break, he and his new associates. “Let’s go for a ride, across the lake.”

That would give them some space to be away from the throngs after a good, but arduous and tiring day.


The sharp blasts from the lifeguard’s whistle sliced through the calm of the early afternoon. “Everyone out of the water,” she shouted through her bullhorn. “Everybody out. Now!”

A child was missing.

Nigel’s mother had seen him go out with the rest of the children, swimmies on his arms fully inflated, a half-hour earlier.

There were other grown-ups with the children in the water. Seven years old, Nigel had taken swimming lessons and could swim – sort of. Still, he was just a primary school child. “But almost eight years old!” he proudly told everyone.

Nigel was missing.


The storm that came up was sudden, and fierce, as storms on Galilee often are. And the boat they were in could barely hold all thirteen of them.

They were pelted with wave after wave of torrential rain. Swells of water were already swamping the boat.

The downpour was so intense that they could no longer see the other boats that had left the shore, closely following them.

They were afraid. They were really afraid.

And, yet, there he was, sound asleep on a cushion in the back of the boat that was being pitched violently.

Asleep!

Yes, it had been a long day, and an exhausting day. But this was no time to be sleeping! They had bought into his mission, left everything – families, homes and fishing businesses – and followed him.

Now it looked like they were going to go down, to drown with him, while he slept.


The lifeguard quickly gathered the of all of the adults – the teachers and the parents and older students who had volunteered for the day – and gave them instructions.

“Here’s what I want you to do,” she said. “Form a chain, join hands, and head out in a big semi-circle. You two,” she pointed to two tall teens, one boy and one girl. “You two go first. You’re the tallest. You can both swim, right?”

They nodded seriously and headed for the water, linking hands with others as they plunged forward.

On the shore, several gathered around Nigel’s mother, who was too distraught to take part in the search.

“What if they don’t find him? How could God let this happen?” she cried. “What if they don’t find my child?”

One of her friends came up to her side. “See all of those people out there looking for him?” she said. “They are God’s hands and feet. What we can do is pray.”

The commotion from the storm – and the disciples – woke Jesus. He had indeed been sound asleep, peacefully so.

He was somewhat surprised, as well.

Didn’t they get it?

Didn’t they understand all he had talked about today with the people on the shore about God and God’s kingdom, and that there was nothing to fear?

He could see that it was going to be a hard slog with this bunch.

In the end, Jesus knew they all, but one, would be understanding and faithful. But, at the moment, they were dim-witted, uneducated fishermen.

Rising, from the mat at the stern of the boat, he brought calm to the storm and smoothed the surface of the lake.

Then he turned to the twelve. “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” His question hung in the air – everything was now tranquil.

They began to understand.

“He’s here! We’ve got him! He’s okay!”

One of the teachers in the chain had spotted Nigel. He’d somehow gotten underneath the floating raft, small that he was, and couldn’t get out.

The barrels that held up the raft kept it high enough so Nigel could keep his head above the water. But he had gotten stuck there and didn’t know how to get out.

He was a little panicked, and a little hypothermic, and in shock, but he was all right. Nigel was all right.

On the beach, his mother collapsed into tears, and then ran to the scoop Nigel up as the rescuers brought him ashore.

She squeezed him tightly. “Thank you, God,” she whispered. “Thank you.”

For her– as for the disciples on the wind-tossed Galenian ship – Nigel’s mother learned that day: When Fear knocks at the door, and Faith answers, no one is there.

Amen.

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