Summary: When we are in storms, we can either fear or have faith in Jesus
God, Be in our heads, Be in our hearts, Be in our understanding, Be in the words heard and the words spoken. Amen.
I have a guilty habit to share: I enjoy reading adventure novels: Jason Bourne, Dirk Pitt, Jack Ryan — I buy them in paperback and usually read them in a couple of days. They are brain candy, empty calories, but I still am addicted to them.
The heroes in these books share at least one thing in common: they have learned to manage their fears. Over and over again, when faced with situations that would paralyze most of us, they can consider their options, make a plan, and execute that plan. And, of course, they ultimately come out on top. (Hard to have a series if you kill off the hero.) They have faith in themselves, their abilities, and those around them.
In today’s gospel, we heard Jesus ask the disciples:
"Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith? (Mark 4:40)
Take a minute and think about how many times you have heard this, or maybe heard:
“O ye of little faith” (Matthew 8:26)
I ask, what is this faith that we are supposed to have?
So, I went to the Webster's Dictionary, where faith is defined as "confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea or thing." But there was also this explanation of faith: "Belief not based on logical proof or material evidence.”
“Belief not based on logical proof or material evidence”
We find the disciples in a boat, on a rough sea, afraid of capsizing, and Jesus is sleeping! They were afraid – their faith that everything will be okay is lacking. They cry to Jesus:
"Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" (Mark 4:38)
Jesus calmed the storm, and turns to the disciples and asks:
"Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?" (Mark 4:40)
Jesus called out their fear, not because being afraid in that situation was wrong, but because the way they handled their fear showed a lack of faith.
We are not called to be fearless. We are called to face our fears by knowing that someone greater than our fears is always present and that someone cares and can act.
Jesus didn't rebuke His disciples for waking Him up. He didn't give them a lecture about their lack of trust in His ability. Instead, He recognized the desperate state they were in. He knew they couldn't control the storm; when they were at their wit’s, they called out to him.
We must never feel that anything should stop us from taking our needs to Jesus, no matter how small they may seem. If something concerns us, it concerns Jesus as well; if we have fear, we can take it to Jesus.
This weekend America is celebrating Juneteenth, commemorating the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Texas were finally officially informed that they were free
– two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed,
and two months after the Civil War ended.
Its name is derived from a combination of the words “June” and “nineteenth” This celebration represents granting of freedom for African Americans since 1619, when they were first brought over to America.
Slaves had lived in constant fear:
• of murder and lynching,
• of cruel punishment or maiming,
• of separation of families,
• of being sold like cattle to a white person.
Although the slaves were legally freed, in actuality, the Emancipation Proclamation did not liberate many of the slaves; the promise of freedom and land was replaced by the Jim Crow laws, creating a different type of fear – one of domination, and persecution, and murder. To the government, they were still three-fifths of a human being.
But no matter, our Black brothers and sisters had faith in Jesus, and the love of God kept them going, knowing deep in their hearts that they would someday be free.
This week President Joe Biden established Juneteenth as a national holiday! It is fitting that we mark this holiday in our struggle to remove white supremacy from this nation. Now we all need to work harder to prevent voter suppression and other archaic laws still aimed at minimizing the worth of people of color.
We also celebrate LGBTQA Pride this weekend. For many years, gay men and women were illegal in the United States, and in most states. On June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Union bar in New York City, police attacked those patrons of the bar. Gay and lesbian men and women then took to the streets and began the fight for gay civil rights; this was the origin of Gay Pride. Even today, LGBTQA persons constantly live under the fear