Saturday evening service, Pastor Sattler presiding.
While Rhoda played the piano we sang the following hymns: “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” (opening), “Eternal Father, Strong to Save” (the sermon), “Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me” (offering), “The Lamb” (distribution of Communion) and “Lord, Take My Hand and Lead Me” (closing). Thank you, Rhoda!
We prayed during service. We prayed for our sick and infirmed. We prayed for the safety of those in our congregation who are in the armed forces. We prayed for sanity between peoples of differing opinions. We prayed for Jesus’ quick return.
We recited The Nicene Creed. We prayed The Lord’s Prayer as one. We confessed our miserable and humiliating sins, but because of His Love and Glory, Jesus forgave them for us. We took Communion with our brothers and sisters. The following is a prayer of thanksgiving we can silently read to God after the blood, wine, flesh and bread. It is found on the opening page of The Lutheran Hymnal.
Almighty and everlasting God, I thank and praise you for feeding me with the life-giving body and blood of your beloved son Jesus Christ. Send your Holy Spirit that, having with my mouth received the holy Sacrament, I may by faith obtain and eternally enjoy your divine grace, the forgiveness of sins, unity with Christ, and everlasting life; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.
Susan read Job 38:1-11 and 2 Corinthians 6:1-13. Pastor read the gospel, Mark 4:35-41.
Sermon: “Calm in the Storm”
The gospel reading in Mark talks about Jesus and His disciples taking a boat to get across a lake to continue His ministry. With Jesus snoozing in the stern a terrible storm arose and threatened to sink the boat. The disciples cried out and complained to Jesus that He must not care very much about them because…
“We are THIS close to dying and You just lay there sleeping!”
They didn’t even know if Jesus could do anything to help them but Him laying there catching 40 winks certainly wasn’t useful.* Jesus got up and rebuked not just the wind and water but the disciples as well. I think He was *encouraging* them to ‘up their game’ and really give careful consideration to those events going on around them while He was still around. One thing the disciples needed to realize was how safe they really were with Jesus in their immediate presence. It wouldn’t be like that after Jesus ascended to be with the Father. That’s what we experience, Jesus not physically being in the back of the boat for us. It’s why Jesus said that we are blessed for not ever having seen Him but believing in Him just the same. When trouble visits us we frequently ask,
“Where is Jesus now that I need Him?”
It’s a common complaint of ours. Towers fall, wars commence, parents die, we become ill, family gets arrested, someone gets mugged, I fail a test, you get a flat tire, tornadoes strike and we complain Jesus is ‘asleep at the wheel’. Well, Jesus isn’t asleep at the wheel. Though He isn’t here in flesh and blood as He was for the disciples He is still with us who believe in Him. The event in the boat shows us several things.
1. It’s OK to complain to God. Our God is the only god who encourages us to take it out on Him when life goes wrong. The Psalms are filled with laments (complaints) to God. Psalm 44:11-12 is a good one:
You gave us up to be devoured like sheep
and have scattered us among the nations.
You sold your people for a pittance,
gaining nothing from their sale.
Try saying that to your mom or dad and see what happens. In the disciples’ case, they complained, Jesus acted and He was praised. He does the same today. We complain and beg to Him, He listens and acts in His own (and right) time and afterward we thank and praise Him for His generosity.
2. We learn to lean on others. When Job’s life literally fell apart around him, who was there to comfort him? His wife? Her advice to Job was to ‘curse God and die’. Not good. As it turned out, he had three friends who visited him and sat in silence by his side for seven days. That’s what a guy in pain needs.
3. It’s best to hush to hear God. The disciples were in a tizzy when their boat was rocking and because of it couldn’t think clearly even with God right there. Psalm 46:10a states
“He says, “Be still, and know that I am God…”
Quiet surroundings are always better.
4. Always remember when God was with you in the past. Psalm 77:11-12 reads
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
As long as you have been a Christian you can look back and see where Jesus has answered a prayer or helped you with a situation. You might not even have realised it at the time but only when reflecting on the matter. If Jesus was with you back then what good reason could there be that He would abandon you in your hour of need today? And if He will be with you today He can certainly be counted on in the future.
None of this is to say that Jesus will make everything right the way and the when you want it. The world we live is governed by natural law. Earthquakes shake foundations, winds blow trees from their roots and waters wash away the dirt we stand on. People we love die, get in accidents, fail tests, go to jail and a myriad other disasters in life. But Jesus is in charge and He can, if it furthers His kingdom, override natural law by performing miracles.
Life on Earth can certainly seem random at times but we as Christians aren’t asked to understand why stuff happens but to trust that Jesus is there for us after all is said and done. He knows we all die but He cares more for your faith in Him because life everafter with Him is the best of all outcomes for you.
* You know, I think the disciples get a really bad rap for appearing witless, faithless, bumbling and clueless around Jesus for those three years. It sounds counter-intuitive that anyone in His immediate presence should suffer any confusion but it had to be tough to understand what Jesus was all about. How does a fisherman grasp the concept of “unlearning all you know” to follow a master? I think they were special to have taken on that massive task.
Pastor Sattler sent us on our ways with the blessing from Numbers 6:24-26:
“‘“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’