St. Mark's Episcopal Church

124 North Sylvia Street - Montesano, WA, 98563

Pentecost 4 Sermon 2015

This has been quite a dilemma for me as to which story I should preach on, or maybe do both.  Depends on the amount of information that one might find on one or the other.
Confusing, huh ??

Well, I really liked the story of David and Goliath; I guess it’s because we all know it.  Thank goodness David had the Lord on his side, as to meet up with Goliath would be enough fear in one person to just give up.  Anyway, David was bringing provisions to the army camp for his older brothers, when Goliath swaggered forward and issued a challenge for a one-on-one combat witch the people of the loser would become the servants of the winner.  This practice of selecting champions to fight one another as representatives of their respective armies was not uncommon and prevented combat involving entire forces.  David volunteered to fight him.  As a shepherd boy, David had often battled wild animals in order to save his sheep.

He presented his case before King Saul.  David was confident that the Lord would be with him against Goliath, just as the Lord had protected him from the wild beasts that attacked his flocks.  How could anyone prevail against the living God?

David rejected the use of Saul’s oversized armor, to which he was unaccustomed.  David went to meet Goliath armed only with five smooth stones and his sling.  The detailed description of Goliath’s weapons and armor compared to David’s seeming vulnerability, this calls attention to David’s steadfast faith in God’s protection.

The tension continues to mount as David approaches Goliath, who taunts the Israelites for sending a mere boy to fight him.  David is not deterred by the boasting of Goliath, as he makes his own bold proclamation to claim victory for the Israelites so that “all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel”. While the Philistines put their trust in their weapons and army, David places his faith in the Lord–who will prevail.

This story quickly reaches its dramatic conclusion by David  using his sling to hurl a stone that hit Goliath on the forehead, killing him instantly.

When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they immediately retreated, and were subsequently defeated by the Israelites.  In the final analysis, this is not so much a story about a fight between two seemingly mismatched adversaries, but a witness to the power of the living God to use the weak to overcome the powerful.  Power of the living God to use the weak to overcome the powerful.  Great story.

Next is our Gospel of Mark who tells the story of Jesus and his disciples.  It was getting late in the day when Jesus wanted to cross the Sea of Galilee, to the other side.  The disciples were questioning Jesus about this, as it was getting late in the day, but he was tired from all the teaching and preaching he had done all day long.  So they left the shore and Jesus soon fell asleep.  

The Sea of Galilee or more accurately, the lake of Galilee, is situated on an ancient trade route that linked Egypt with Syria and Mesopotamia.  Towns founded by Greeks, Romans, and many others flourished in the region, and there was a thriving fishing industry on the lake.  This was a busy trade route.  At thirteen miles long and eight miles wide the lake appears rather small to experience a storm as violent as the one Mark tells us about.  However, because of its unique geography- -a low-lying area surrounded by hills - - it is prone to sudden and violent storms.
As fishermen, Peter, James, John and Andrew were all too familiar with the weather, including violent storms, and how to handle it.  They all panic and woke Jesus up from what was probably a much-needed nap shows that the particular storm was extraordinarily severe.

The storm has pushed the disciples to their limit.  In spite of boats and the Galilean weather, their boat is sinking.  In desperation, they wake Jesus, not simply to warn him that his own life is in danger, but because they had nowhere else to turn.  “Don’t you care that we’re drowning?”  Isn’t so much a question as a desperate cry for help.  They wanted to be out of the situation, which seemed hopeless, and did the only thing left for them to do.  They called out to Jesus.

His response is not what they expected, or they would not have reacted the way they did.  They saw Jesus perform miracles of healing and casting out demons, yet this act of control over the elements of sea and sky stunned them.  In an instant they are removed from the life-threatening situation and brought to a new place--not just of safety, but also of understanding, even if they can not yet fully comprehend the circumstances or the place itself.

How often throughout the gospels does Jesus do the unexpected?  When faced with a hungry crowd and almost no food on hand, he sits the people down and feeds them.  When teaching his followers who their neighbor is, the hero of his story is a despised Samaritan.  When the disciples are faced with another dangerous storm on the lake, Jesus walks to them on the water.

To us, the modern Christian, these stories, passed down over the generations, have become part of the familiar core of our lives.  We may question the mechanics of the miracles, or even the thinking of the observers, but more often than not, we are not startled by Jesus’ actions in the way his disciples and the others in these stories are.  No matter how cynical one may be, or how little one believes that miracles like those in the Gospels can happen deep down, we expect Jesus to do something.

How many times in life do we find ourselves in a “storm” beyond our ability to handle?  When we reach our limits trying to handle the situation, we simply want out of it.  And when it becomes desperate enough, we often find ourselves crying out to Jesus.  “Don’t you care that we’re perishing?”

“Why are you so afraid?  Do you still have no faith?”  Jesus asks.  Because we are human, we struggle with our fears and our limits just as the disciples did.  Yet, if we remain open to the unexpected, Jesus will see us through, in spite of our doubts, fears, and lack of faith.  Amen

Used part of Sermon by Jeffri Harre

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