Only this day will be this day

Sunday Evening

File:Hand bell large.jpgWe had a delightful addition to worship this morning: a husband and wife team playing hand bells. Twelve bells in four hands playing music whose richness and delight I can’t describe. They were fabulous. The music was wonderful and the sight amazing.

But it was a holiday weekend, people are traveling, and attendance was low. People missed it.

I was still a student at the seminary when I learned not to skip church. We had chapel every day in the mid morning. My apartment was a small building along an alleyway everyone traveled from the classrooms and offices to the chapel. One morning, swamped with homework, I tried to duck into my building, but a professor spotted me. “Bonde, you coming to chapel?” It was a professor to whom I wouldn’t have been able to say no, so I said instead “I’m just putting my books down,” and joined the mob heading towards chapel.

It was the most memorable sermon I heard at seminary. It spoke so profoundly to me I was in tears. And all I could think about later was that I almost missed that moment of perfect grace.

Not every Sunday will be life changing, though added together they will be. Again and again we will be taken back into the story of God and the world. Again and again we will be taken back into the grace that is Christ. Again and again the Spirit will breathe upon us, slowly shaping our lives as a people gathered and sent: gathered by grace and sent to a world in need.

Not every Sunday will be life changing, but a surprising number are. One sermon taught me to tithe. One sermon changed our marriage by the practice of Sabbath. One sermon changed the way we ate on behalf of those who hunger. There are others whose effect is harder to describe, but I remember them still. One involved a homeless person who wandered into an elaborate liturgy installing a bishop and tried to address the community.  I learned something important about who we should be that day.

Worship services are not repeatable. They are not like movies offering multiple showings each day; they are unique, like concerts. They have a common structure. They contain familiar prayers. But what happens this day will only happen this day. We will hear other bells, but it will not be the same surprise and joy as this day.

And you never know which day will be the day that changes you forever.

 

Photo: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hand_bell_large.jpg

There are no pyramids in Judea

File:Sphinx and pyramids of Giza panorama.jpgSaturday

Psalm 123

3Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
for we have had more than enough of contempt.
4Our soul has had more than its fill of the scorn of those who are at ease,
of the contempt of the proud.

If we stop and pay attention to verses like this we will understand something important about Biblical faith and the scripture: it is, for the most part, written by the conquered not the conquerors. It is an exilic faith, a diaspora faith, a faith born out of human suffering rather than success. For all the glories of the kingdom of David, it was not an empire to compare with Egypt or Babylon or Assyria. There are no pyramids in Judea. No magnificent temples on the acropolis. No ancient works of art like those of Persia that ISIS is looting and destroying. What remained of Israel was a book. A book written by those who had seen their nation crushed, their temple destroyed, their king blinded and led away in chains. All the boots of tramping warriors had marched again and again through their land. They had known the contempt of the proud.

The struggle inside Israel and Judah was a struggle for its character. Some aspired to glory. Others aspired to justice and mercy. Kings built altars that matched Assyria. Prophets spoke on behalf of the poor. Moses commanded a Sabbath that they not be a nation of slaveholders and slaves. The wealthy sought to discard such archaic ideas. Moses spoke of shared bread. Isaiah excoriated the lavish feasts of the rich and promised a day when all would gather at God’s abundant banquet.

3Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
for we have had more than enough of contempt.
4Our soul has had more than its fill of the scorn of those who are at ease,
of the contempt of the proud.

Whether the psalm prays for relief from foreign oppressors or their own home grow elite, the truth of the prayer remains. It is the cry of the poor, a cry God hears.

 

Photo: By kallerna (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Perfect love

Thursday

Ezekiel 1:28b – 2:5

File:Bearing of the Cross (Duccio di Buoninsegna).jpg28I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of someone speaking. 1He said to me: O mortal, stand up on your feet, and I will speak with you. 2And when he spoke to me, a spirit entered into me and set me on my feet.

God speaks to Ezekiel. At the culmination of the prophet’s overwhelming vision of the glory of God, God speaks. Ezekiel is on the ground and, though he is commanded to rise, he is unable. God fulfills in him what God commanded.

I will take nothing away from the teaching of Jesus that God is a loving father. But we have grown so used to the idea of God as a doting father that we have forgotten the awe. We don’t want to talk about the fear of God. It sounds wrong to our ears. Why should we fear what is perfect love? But the punch line is in that word perfect. Perfect love ought to silence us. Perfect love ought to press us facedown to the ground. Perfect love ought to suck the spirit out of us. Perfect love is nails and thorns and unspeakable shame borne freely for our sake.

When perfect love tells us to stand on our feet, our knees should be too weak. We should need God’s own spirit to lift us up.

 

Duccio [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A fistful of dollars (part 2)

File:US100000dollarsbillobverse.jpg

Wednesday

Mark 6:1-13

5And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. 6And he was amazed at their unbelief.

Then he went about among the villages teaching. 7He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.

So Jesus ends the day with a fistful of bills and few takers. A few sick people are made well, but it’s drips and drabs of God’s true bounty. He is come to heal the human heart. He is come to lift away the debt of shame. He is here to erase the ledger, to restore us to God and one another. He is here to drive out every evil Spirit and breathe in us God’s own Spirit. He is here to heal and make alive you and I and all creation. But offered a hundred thousand dollars, only a few even answer – and they say, “I just need some change for the parking meter.”

You or I or most anyone else would say “Pack it in boys and girls, we’re going home.” But Jesus keeps moving. And then he doubles down. He commissions his followers to go out in his name to announce God’s reign and heal the sick.

People have shown themselves willing to buy most everything from cubic zirconia to pet rocks, but God’s people aren’t interested in what Jesus is selling: a release from our bondage to sin and death and new birth into a world where the lion lies down with the lamb.

Apparently we like the bloodletting better.

But God is not dissuaded. Two by two. Don’t bother packing; the mission is too urgent. Don’t worry about your wardrobe; God will provide. Don’t beat your heads against the wall; if people aren’t interested move on – but be sure they know that they have renounced the prince of peace. No dust from their world shall cling to ours.

No dust from their world. No dust from the world of Dylann Roof. No dust from the world of hate. No dust from the world of dog eat dog – be the eater or the eaten. No dust from the world of fear and gloom. No dust from the world that chooses profits over prophets. No dust from the world of tears. Shake it all off. And go forth to the next town to touch the world with grace and life. Go forth. Dwell in the realm of Grace. Be bearers of the realm of Grace.  Bestow the bounty of God.

 

Image file: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:US100000dollarsbillobverse.jpg

A fistful of dollars

Tuesday

Mark 6:1-13

File:American Cash.JPG5And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. 6And he was amazed at their unbelief.

If you are standing on a street corner trying to hand out one-hundred-dollar bills and no one trusts you, you are going to have a lot left over at the end of the day.

Jesus is in Nazareth – though Mark tells us that he came to his people, his father’s place. So, yes, Jesus is in Nazareth, but the story is a parable about all God’s people. (Not “the Jews” mind you, but you and I, all who consider themselves God’s people.) Jesus has come to the place of his father. He is there in the power of the Spirit. He is proclaiming that God’s day of new creation, the reign of God, is at hand. And they say 3Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?”

It is not a puzzled inquiry. It is a rejection. “We know this guy. He’s a carpenter. What’s he doing talking like this? Who does he think he is?” They are words designed to cut this uppity peon down to size.  “You are no better than us, Jesus.”

And he could do no mighty work there.

Jesus has a fistful of one-thousand-dollar bills and no takers.

Why is it so hard for us to receive the gifts of God? Is there something intrinsic to religious life that closes us off to the life of the Spirit? Do we spend so much time going to the golf club for lunch that we think we are golfers and never go out to play the game?  Do we hang out in the faculty lounge and think that we are scholars and have no reason to study anymore?  Are we “Republicans in name only” (or Democrats, or pick-your party/organization) and think we need never donate our time and money?  Do I give to the World Wildlife Fund and have their little sticker on my car, and think that makes me an environmentalist, without ever setting foot in the woods or taking thought for my carbon footprint?

We are like this in many ways.

And when our kids come home and challenge our lifestyle we say things like “Who do you think you are? This is what paid for your college education?”

“Who do you think you are Jesus. You are no different than we are. You are a common laborer. Don’t imagine that you are worthy of greater honor than us.” Of course, in our time, it comes out more like: “That’s all very well and good, Jesus, but we live in the real world.”

Does it break the heart of God when he sends prophets and teachers to those who name themselves as God’s people and they want none of it? “I like my religion my way, thank you.”

And Jesus has his fistful of one-hundred-thousand-dollar bills and no takers.

 

Image: By Revised by Reworked (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Unwelcome prophets

Watching for the Morning of July 5, 2015

Year B

The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost:
Proper 9 / Lectionary 14

File:Nicolás Francés - The Twelve Apostles - Google Art Project.jpg

Nicolás Francés – The Twelve Apostles

Following the healing of the woman with the twelve year infirmity and the raising of Jairus’ twelve year old daughter, Jesus goes to his ‘hometown’. But Mark doesn’t say he went to Nazareth; the word Mark uses is something more like ‘fatherland’. This is not just about Jesus’ rejection at Nazareth; it hints at his rejection by the twelve tribes of Israel he has come to heal.

Prophets are not welcome in their hometown. We hear his townspeople respond with a kind of “Who does he think he is?” attack on a member of the community who acts outside his station. It is the same attack made by the leadership of the nation.

Prophets have not been well received in Israel – despite their huge influence on the shape of the Biblical tradition. Jeremiah was imprisoned, his message callously thrown into the fire by the king, page by page as it was read to him. Amos was accused of treason and told to go home and ply his trade in Judah when God sent him to warn the northern kingdom of Israel. But Amos was not one of the professional prophets – the talking heads who assured the king of God’s favor.

Sunday we hear of Ezekiel’s call to deliver God’s message – though he is sent to a house of rebels who will not hear. Though the psalm will claim that the people are attentive to God, like a servant watching the master’s hand, both the reading from Ezekiel and the Gospel text will suggest otherwise. We are a stubborn people wanting to hear what we want to hear rather than what God has to say. And so God’s power to heal is not welcomed in Nazareth – and too often lost to us.

But God is not deterred. Jesus sends his twelve – twelve to represent the whole community of believers – to announce God’s dawning reign and dispense God’s gifts of healing and life. And where they go, the realm of Satan is driven back.

Outside the theme – yet obliquely connected – is Paul’s struggle to defend his ministry and his acknowledgment of a “thorn in the flesh.” Whatever it might be, it reminds him that the power is in God not himself. He is not a victorious crusader; he is one of the wounded who knows the wondrous grace God.

The Prayer July 5, 2015

O God, whose will it is to gather all people into your eternal embrace,
make us ever mindful of your call,
and ever fruitful in our task,
to bear witness to your reign of grace and life;
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Texts for July 5, 2015

First Reading: Ezekiel 1:28b – 2:5 (appointed 2:1-5)
“I am sending you to the people of Israel, to a nation of rebels who have rebelled against me.” – Having received his overwhelming vision of God, the prophet is summoned to speak God’s message to the rebellious people of God.

Psalmody: Psalm 123
“As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God.”
– A pilgrim song, the poet imagines the people as an attentive servant awaiting the master’s kindness.

Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 (appointed 12:2-10)
“To keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh.”
– Paul must defend his ministry by “boasting” of his gifts, yet fully aware that all is by God’s grace.

Gospel: Mark 6:1-13
“He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.” – Rejected at Nazareth, Jesus continues and expands his mission, sending out his followers as heralds of God’s kingdom.

 

Image: Nicolás Francés [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Restoring life

File:Felix Pfeifer00.jpg

Watching for the Morning of June 28, 2015

Year B

The Fifth Sunday after Pentecost:
Proper 8 / Lectionary 13

There is a distinction to be made between curing a disease and healing. Healing is always much more than a restoration of bodily function; it is a restoration of life. We are aware of the complex interplay of body and mind in our modern understanding of disease. Nevertheless, our dominant image of illness is a biomechanical one, whereas the ancient world would have seen illness as social and spiritual. The woman with the flow of blood, who reaches out to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment, is not only physically ill but ritually unclean. She has an infirmity that robs her of her place in the community. Though she was a person of means (able to afford doctors) yet she is “poor” for she is disconnected from life. What God does for her through Jesus is not fundamentally different than what God does for the daughter of Jairus. Both are “saved” – restored to life.

The God who restores life is the hope of the poet of Lamentations who cries out the grief and desolation of a people who have lost everything at the hands of the Babylonian armies. If a future exists for this people, it comes only from this God of life.

And in the psalm for Sunday, the God who restores life is praised by the author who sings of his wondrous healing.

This God who restores life is the one proclaimed by Paul – the God who opened the grave and exalted Jesus and in him brings us from death into life. So Paul urges the brothers and sisters in Corinth to share in the offering he is gathering for the brothers and sisters in Judea in the midst of famine. In Christ Jesus, who became poor that we might become rich, we have both the model and inspiration to give of ourselves for those in need – the model and inspiration to share in God’s life-giving work.

When we speak of healing, we are speaking of God’s work to make whole: to make whole our hearts, our lives, our communities, our world. It is a work begun in us now, and it is a work we are confident will be brought to completion for us and for all creation – for the grave is empty.

The Prayer June 28, 2015

Faithful God, whose steadfast love never fails
and whose mercy never comes to an end,
may your healing hand be ever upon us,
to renew and restore our life as your faithful people;
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Texts for June 28, 2015

First Reading: Lamentations 3:19-33 (appointed 3:22-33)
“The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him.” – In the midst of his profound expression of grief over the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, the poet recalls the fragments of Israel’s worship that express their hope in God’s faithfulness and love.

Psalmody: Psalm 30
“O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol, restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.”
– The psalmist gives thanks and praise to God for delivery from a deathly illness.

Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 8:7-15
“You know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.”
– Paul appeals to the Corinthians to fulfill their promise to participate in the offering for the believers in Jerusalem during their time of need.

Gospel: Mark 5:21-43
“One of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” – Following the stilling of the storm at sea and the restoration of the man among the tombs, Jesus brings healing to a woman and restores the life of the daughter of Jairus.

 

Sculpture by Felix Pfeifer – “Genesung” (healing, restoration) in Rosengarten in Dresden. Photo by By Franziska Bauer (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Around a single table

Lutheran Altar

Altar at the Castle Church in Torgau

Sunday Evening

Mark 4:35-41

38 They woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

I don’t know whether it was the mood of the whole worshipping assembly today or just mine, but the tragedy in South Carolina seemed to hang over worship. It rattled around in the sermon about Jesus stilling the storm. Perhaps I should have spoken directly about the violence that invaded Emanuel Church where nine laid down their lives – or had them stolen away – but I was not ready.   Nevertheless, it was there when we talked about the power of God’s word that brought order, beauty and goodness out of the chaos of the primeval waters – a word that Jesus had authority to speak. It was there when I talked about the storm at sea through which God obstructed Jonah’s flight from God’s command to bring God’s word to the hated Ninevites. Jonah would rather perish than carry to Assyria a message that might save Israel’s enemy. It’s a comical story with a profound message – a message Jesus takes up when he declares:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:43-45)

We don’t really want to hear that God loves everyone. And, like Jonah, there is a part of us that runs from that assignment. Who wants to bear witness to skinheads and white supremacists? Who wants to challenge bigoted and prejudicial speech? The safety of our like-minded churches is much to be preferred. Or, at least, what we thought was safety.

All hate is linked. We need to get this through our heads and hearts and souls. All hate is linked. We cannot disseminate vitriolic emails about Muslims, Obama, Democrats or Republicans, or climate change supporters or deniers, without adding to the level of hate and intolerance in the country. We cannot oppose the building of a mosque without adding to the desecration of all religious traditions. We may enjoy the snarky remarks, exaggerations and falsehoods on the news channel of our choice, but we are adding to the spiritual pollution of our time.

All hate is linked. And it is linked over time. We are not far in time from lynching as a public festival, with children in their Sunday best watching a body in flames. We are not far in time from segregated schools and segregated buses and segregated workforces. We are not far in time when persons of color died because a white hospital would not treat them. We are not far in time when a white woman’s word sealed the fate of a black man, any black man. We are not far in time when white sheriffs picked up black men for ‘vagrancy’ and ‘hired’ them out to work in the orange groves. We are not far in time when a black child with a toy gun is shot on sight.

All hate is linked. And it is linked over time. We have hated “Commies”. We have hated the Japanese before them. Interestingly, we tended to hate Nazi’s rather than Germans, but made no such distinction about imperialist Japan. We have hated the native peoples who occupied this land. We have hated the Irish when they first came to this land and, at various times, Italians and Jews and most other migrant groups in their time. We have allowed our hates to morph and shift rather than choose the path that Jesus’ proposed – well, actually, commanded.

The sin lies in all of us. And repentance doesn’t mean feeling guilt. It means changing our allegiance, changing our path, changing our loyalty from self-interest to the well being of our neighbor. It means changing from the spirit of our age to the Spirit of God. It means truth telling about our story and listening with care to the stories others tell. It means restraining our greed and considering well the welfare of the whole community. It means restraining our speech. As St. James records:

If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless.” (1:26)

It means taking to heart what James declares when he says that the tongue is

a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. 10From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. 11Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? 12Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh. (3:8-12)

All hate is linked. But the eternal source of life, who commanded the sea to be still and brought forth the world of beauty and goodness, has come among us in this Nazarene. And he gathers us still, week after week, around a single table to remind us of his promise to gather all nations into the banquet of perfect peace. And he has made us his witnesses that our lost humanity can be restored.

God answered Job

Saturday

Job 38

Mojave Dust Devil1The LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind:

I love this text, but every attempt to write a reflection on it this week has seen the comment grow too long.

The book of Job was a puzzle to me when I was young. In my early adulthood, I didn’t have the patience or experience to appreciate the struggle behind the poem. But my appreciation for the skill of the poetry has improved with age. My perspective on the conversation between God and the satan has changed. And my understanding of Job’s complaint has grown as I have tasted some of life’s bitterness.

I see now that the text overflows with grace. Yet I know many people may have trouble seeing that, so let me offer just this one sweet word: “The Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind.”

God answered Job. God is under no obligation to answer our cries and complaints. God owes us no explanation. God is, after all, God, and we are not. (The book of Job puts it so much more graciously and beautifully than that, but that is the substance of God’s answer.) God owes Job nothing. But God answers.

God answers. God answers our cries in the night. God answers our grief. God answers our bewilderment at the inhumanity in our world. God answers our rage at injustice. God answers our despair and hopelessness. God answers when we are full of ourselves and empty of ourselves. God answers. The immortal and timeless one speaks to us mortal and ephemeral creatures.

God speaks. God speaks words that lift our sorrows, that carry our burdens, that forgive our sins. God speaks words that raise our spirits that they may soar like the eagle. God speaks words that cut to the heart like a dagger. God speaks to our vanity and to our brokenness. God speaks to our hate and to our experience of hate. God speaks.

God does not remain aloof in the heavens. We are a people with a book through which God speaks. We are a people with a worship through which God speaks. We are a people with a community through whom God speaks. We are a people to whom God speaks even in the silence.

“The Lord answered Job.”

And he answers us. Not with explanations, not with principles and doctrines and rules, but with words of love, fidelity, assurance, hope, promise. Words that call us out from ourselves and back into relationship with God. What happened to Job in his complaint was that he was cut off from God by his complaint. Demanding God give an account of himself makes God a stranger. When one person demands that of another, whatever trust was between them, whatever sympathy of spirit, is ruptured.

But God does not ignore Job. God does not condemn Job. God answers. He speaks. And by his speaking God calls Job back into a relationship of trust. He draws him back into God’s fidelity and love.

This is the font of all grace in this wondrous poem: God answers Job.

And he bends to speak to us.

 

Photo: adapted from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mojave_DustDevil.jpg  By Jeff T. Alu (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The authority to speak

File:Backhuysen, Ludolf - Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee - 1695.jpg

Ludolf Backhuysen, Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee, 1695

Watching for the Morning of June 21, 2015

Year B

The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost:
Proper 07 / Lectionary 12

The stilling of the storm is one of those troubling stories that challenges our modern understanding of what is possible given the laws of nature. But Jesus’ command of the wind and waves is not only conceivable to the people of his time; it is filled with dramatic significance.

Out of the stormy chaos of a raging sea, mighty wind, and darkness, God speaks to create the world. At the time of Noah, God opens the floodgates in the heavens to allow the sea that destroys all life to pour in. God drives back the waters of the Red Sea by a mighty wind, and by his word sets limits the sea cannot pass. God even sends a storm to oppose Jonah in his flight from his ministry in Nineveh.

We hear some of this in Sunday’s other readings.  When God breaks his silence and questions Job, God asks Job where was he when God constrained and set limits for the sea. The psalmist sings of Gods deliverance of sailors at sea. They cry out in terror before God stills the waves. All of this reverberates through this narrative of Jesus rising from sleep to command the sea.

What confronts the followers of Jesus, struggling in their frail boat, is the authority of Jesus to speak God’s word of command over the primal forces of chaos. It is not a “miracle”, a dramatic show of Jesus’ divine power. It is the authoritative proclamation of one commissioned to speak on behalf of the God who called all things into being. And we are as the disciples in the boat: He who has authority to speak God’s word to the sea, speaks God’s word also to us.

The Prayer June 21, 2015

God of all creation,
who brought forth the earth and all its creatures
and set the bounds of the sea,
come to the aid of your church, beset by storms and danger,
granting us faith that your will and purpose to redeem all things cannot be overthrown;
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Texts for June 21, 2015

First Reading: Job 38:1-11
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.” – God responds to Job’s persistent demand for God to explain his innocent suffering.

Psalmody: Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32
“Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out from their distress; he made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.”
– The psalmist sings of the steadfast love of God who delivers those in distress.

Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 6:1-13
“We urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain.”
– The ministry of Paul was attacked in Corinth by new teachers who came after he left, saying he lacked the proper credentials and his teaching was self-serving. Paul urges the community in Corinth not turn away from the message he brought them – and the favor of God to which it testifies – and cites his endurance despite many trials as evidence of the worth and validity of his teaching.

Gospel: Mark 4:35-41
“A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion.” – The disciples, though experienced sailors, are terrified by a hostile wind, while Jesus is at peace, asleep. Their loyalty to Jesus and his message of the dawning reign of God is shaken by this attack, but Jesus rises to command the sea to be still.