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Sermon - 5 Pentecost (Church on the Beach)

I was watching an ad on TV and the announcer said that 4 out of 5 people suffer from a particular ailment.  It got me thinking: 4 out of 5 suffer.  Does that mean the 5th one enjoys it?

 

The Book of Job is not a book we probably turn to very often.  And, I think that’s too bad because, to me, the book of Job gives us a special perspective on life.

 

Job is not about history or prophecies.  Rather it is a work of wisdom literature in which a literary device conveys a complex thought or idea.  So, Job isn’t so much a suffering person as the personification of suffering and the purpose of the book is to explore why suffering occurs in a world made by a good God.

 

Job has lost his property, his family and his health – all things by which people often measure themselves.  His friends argue this must be because he has done something evil.  But Job argues back there is no proportion between righteousness and prosperity or between wickedness and suffering.

 

At this point, God himself enters the conversation in a whirlwind to tell Job that He, God, doesn’t cause things to go wrong, but when they do, He is there to help us get through them and that Job is worth more than his possessions, family, or health because Job, himself, is precious to God. 

 

It is a revelation.  So, Job is able to say those timeless words, “I know that my Redeemer lives.”

 

Now, in our Gospel today, we heard a story about another whirlwind which culminated in a revelation.  This was not just about a boat trip in bad weather.  Like Job’s story, this is a story about life.  It’s a story about faith.  It’s a story about fear.  And, wherever you find one of those you will find all three.  Life, faith and fear.

 

The wind is strong.  The waves are high.  Even if we’ve never been on a boat, each of us could tell a storm story.  Some of our stories begin with a phone call, a doctor’s visit, news we did not want to hear.  Some of them will start with the choices we have made, our mistakes, and our sins.  Other stories will tell about hopes and plans that fell apart. Some storms seem to come out of nowhere and take us by surprise.  Other storms build and brew as we watch.

 

Regardless of when or how they arise, storms are always about changing conditions.  Life is overwhelming and out of control.  Things don’t go our way.  It’s all too much to handle.  The water is deep and the shore is a distant horizon.

 

The disciples are quick to panic.  And Jesus seems absent.  How can he sleep at a time like this?  A sleeping Jesus is not what they, or we, want.

 

The sleeping Jesus, however, is in the same boat as the disciples.  He is surrounded by the same water, blown by the same wind, beaten by the same waves.  His response, however, is different.  “Peace. Be still.”

 

Yes, Jesus speaks to the wind and the sea, but he isn’t changing the weather as much as inviting the disciples to change.  The disciples have been pointing to what is going on outside them.  Jesus now points to what is going on inside them. “Why are you afraid?  Have you still no faith?”

 

Faith does not change the storm.  It changes us.  Faith does not take us around the storm, but through the storm.  Faith allows us to see and know that Jesus is with us.  Faith is what allows us to be still and peaceful in the midst of the storm.

 

This is what Job learned when God showed up and this is what the disciples learn when Jesus wakes up.

 

The Spirit of God blows more mightily than the winds of any storm.  The power of God is stronger than any wave that beats against us.  The love of God is deeper than any water that threatens to drown us.  In every storm we may encounter, God in Christ is present and his response is always the same, “Peace! Be still!”  Which is why we know, like Job, that our Redeemer lives.

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