Grace and peace to you, from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Jesus got into a boat, and the disciples followed him. Matthew’s Gospel does not give us a reason for Jesus getting into the boat. But we do know that Jesus and his disciples’ travels will bring them to Jerusalem, and the cross.
As Jesus and the disciples are sailing across the sea, a storm comes up. For the disciples, who were mostly fishermen, storms were just part of a normal day’s work. That might be why they didn’t wake him sooner, because although Jesus was a great teacher and healer, he wasn’t a fisherman like they were. Peter, Andrew, James and John knew all about storms. They made their living fishing, so they knew how to handle a storm. But this storm was a monster! The noise and water gushing everywhere must have been overwhelming. Finally, their fear turns to anger and they yell at Jesus, “Save us! We are going to drown!” Jesus does not join them in their panic. He even seems a little annoyed that they woke him up. He doesn’t even do anything spectacular, he just tells the storm to stop.
Isn’t that what we all want, when we pray? For God to stop the storms of our lives? Why can’t we just call on God to take care of all our problems? Sometimes when we read this story, we think that is how God works. We just have to call on God and “poof!” all our troubles will disappear. And if it doesn’t work, there must be something wrong with us, or the way we pray, or something else we are doing wrong. It might even be that some folks think that bad things happen because God is punishing humanity. Let me tell you with all my heart and faith, God is not like that! That is not how God is. We know in our hearts that God loves us, and would never punish people in that way.
What we do see in this story is the power Jesus has, when he stills the storm. But I think there’s so much more to this story, so let’s look at it in another way. Maybe this story is not just about power. Maybe it is also about a storm, and a sleeping Savior. Why is Jesus asleep? Maybe he’s tired from all the traveling, walking many miles to share the good news of God’s love. Or maybe Jesus trusts God. These fishermen had weathered many storms in their careers. Maybe they thought they could handle the storm themselves. They were wrong.
Today we remember the events of 9/11/2001, and its aftermath. We honor those who gave their lives to save others, those who never returned home, and those who continue to risk their lives to keep us safe. We also remind ourselves today, that when tragedy happens,
God is with us in the storm. The best thing we can learn from this Gospel today may have little to do with Jesus’s power, but with Jesus’s faith that God was with him – even in the midst of the storm. Rather than praying for God to fix everything, we need to pray that we will have the faith that Jesus did when he slept on a boat in the middle of a storm.
Let us pray. Jesus, we are afraid when we don’t trust in you, and our faith sometimes falters. But we know you are with us always, in good times and bad. Help us to call out you when the storms of life overwhelm us, and trust that you will never leave us. Amen.