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It is so easy to berate the disciples in this story for panicking over the waves. I've seen the type of boats that were used on the Sea of Galilee during Jesus' time (not that different from the boats that are still used today) and, let me tell you, I would be a little nervous, too! The sides aren't more than 12-18 inches above the waterline. They were getting swamped!
I am also amazed that Jesus manages to sleep through the storm; I think we're supposed to take our cue from that and learn something about the essence of faith. Relax, God's gonna take care of you...or something along those lines.
That is certainly true, whether we hit the panic button or not. God is going to take care of us. Notice that Jesus' "rebuke" to the disciples is much more gentle than that he gives to the wind and the waves. In hindsight (which, they say, is always 20/20,) I'm sure the disciples could see it all playing out much more clearly. God's provision and care depend, not on our faith nor on our confidence, but on God's faithfulness.
So, if you get a little scared next time your boat starts filling up -- it's okay. Try to have at least a little faith.
by the Rev. Dr. Delmer L. Chilton
At a recent pastor’s meeting, our Bible study leader shared research on the celebration of the Nativity of John the Baptist and I learned a lot.
I also learned that John the Baptist (the “Forerunner”) is extensively celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Besides June 24, they also celebrate;January 7: The Commemoration of St. John the Forerunner
February 24: First and Second Finding of the Head of St. John the Forerunner.May 25: Third Finding of the Head St. John the Forerunner.August 29: The Beheading of St. John the ForerunnerSeptember 23: Conception of St. John the Forerunner.
One thing is for certain - all this celebrating points to the importance of John the Baptist, or John the Baptizer, or John the Forerunner as the Orthodox call him, or John the cousin of Jesus as he was probably know around Nazareth; for the Bible tells us that his mother Elizabeth was a cousin of Mary, the Mother of our Lord.
And the question for us today is a simple one. So what? Why should we care? Why should we think about and celebrate the people involved in the Nativity of St. John the Baptist? And what about their journey can help us as we move through our own journey of faith?
In order to understand today’s Gospel lesson, we have to remember what happened nine months before. Zechariah and Elizabeth were, like Abraham and Sarah, quite old and childless. He was one of the priests who served in the temple in Jerusalem. He was serving on the altar one day. He was in the Holy of Holies, in the Sanctuary of the Lord, where no one but the appointed priest went.
Finally the day came, and the baby was born, and they went through the naming argument, at the end of which Zechariah made a statement of faith, writing down the name the angel had told him. At that moment his tongue was loosed and he was able to give voice and words to the miracle of God that had happened in his life.
Without that gut level willingness to throw ourselves into the arms of the divine, we are just playing church, dancing around the edges of the holy. To really believe is to make it personal, to move from ideas about God to a relationship with God, to move from discussing God with others to talking things over with God.
Zechariah knew a lot about God, but he didn’t know God, not until that day at the altar. And until he put aside the terms by which he would be able to relate to God, he had nothing to say. But when he laid aside all his defenses and trusted God completely, his long unused voice burst forth in song.
So it is with us. We as individuals and as a community are called upon to trust the promise of God. God has promised to love us, to forgive us, to support and sustain us through all life’s difficulties and troubles.
Do we trust God? Do we trust God’s love? Do we trust God’s care? Do we trust God’s compassion? Do we trust God’s mercy? Do we?
We invited today to join in the Song of Zechariah. We are invited to feel deep within ourselves the joy of knowing that we are a beloved children of God, and as that oy wells up within us, our tongues will be loosed and our voices heard.