3rd Sunday after Trinity

Almighty God,
you have broken the tyranny of sin
and have sent the Spirit of your Son into our hearts
                   whereby we call you Father:
give us grace to dedicate our freedom to your service,
that we and all creation may be brought
                   to the glorious liberty of the children of God;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

 

Job 38.1-11

Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said:

     “Who is this that darkens my counsel
         with words without knowledge?
     Brace yourself like a man;
         I will question you,
         and you shall answer me.
     Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
         Tell me, if you understand.
     Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
         Who stretched a measuring line across it?
     On what were its footings set,
         or who laid its cornerstone –
     while the morning stars sang together
         and all the angels shouted for joy?
     Who shut up the sea behind doors
         when it burst forth from the womb,
     when I made the clouds its garment
         and wrapped it in thick darkness,
     when I fixed limits for it
         and set its doors and bars in place,
     when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
         here is where your proud waves halt’?”

 

2 Corinthians 6.1-13

As God’s fellow-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says,

     “In the time of my favour I heard you,
         and in the day of salvation I helped you.”

I tell you, now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation.

We put no stumbling-block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonour, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. As a fair exchange – I speak as to my children – open wide your hearts also.

 

Mark 4.35-41

When evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

 

Reflection by Hilary

 

Living on an Island as we do the sea is an important element of life and something often taken for granted by those who live here, unless of course you are one of the people who do not enjoy crossing the waters to the mainland even on a calm day!  But as most of us will know even the sheltered waters of the Solent can sometimes be far from tranquil as has been seen in recent years with some of the severe storms that have hit these waters around the Island and these are not always in the winter as the Cowes week sailors will know only too well.  Gales that at times can be quite frightening even on the somewhat protected fastcat or hovercraft as those craft are tossed about like corks. It certainly can be a ‘cruel sea’ at times.

 

In the gospel reading for today we hear Mark’s account of Jesus stilling the storm.  For those disciples there was certainly little protection, they were in a fishing boat, open to the elements and despite the fact they were used to the sea they were still very, very, frightened.  For some of those disciples wind and waves were all part of life and something that had to be accepted since they could not control the weather and it was all part of their life as fishermen.

 

For Jews the sea was a place of chaos and disorder and they probably would have regarded storms at sea as part of the judgements of God and it is therefore no wonder that they were staggered as Jesus brought such a storm to an abrupt end and all was calm again.  The disciples knew the lake well and it’s probably fair to say that they would have regarded Jesus actions as more than just an exercise of power.  In deciding to follow Jesus the disciples had made a commitment of faith.  Just what made them leave their daily occupations and follow Jesus we do not know but there must have been something about Jesus for them to do that and they were now learning just what that something was.

In the 2nd reading part of Paul’s 2nd epistle to the Corinthians, we hear Paul appeal to the Christians in Corinth to respond wholeheartedly to the message of reconciliation and hope in Jesus.  Paul explains to them his sense of responsibility for the total ministry of Christ in the world, that it may be above all, effective.  So he shares what his own ministry means to him.  He says nothing about office or function in the church but stresses as his credentials what he has been through for the Christian cause and what has motivated his work.  To support this appeal Paul lists just what he has been through and the troubles he has had to put up with and the way he deals with them.  He and his ministers suffer beatings, imprisonment, riots and all manner of suffering.

 

The varying fortunes he encounters, the contrasts between the ways people judge him and the realities of his spiritual life are all part of the whole of life.

And that reading from the 2nd letter to the Corinthians this morning has something to say to us as baptised Christians.

 

The Christian life has at times been described as a battle and it was certainly never meant to be a soft option.  In baptism each one of us is commanded to be Christ’s faithful soldier and servant and to fight valiantly under the banner of Christ against sin, the world and the devil.

As Jesus stills the storm in today’s gospel reading we see again the awesome power of God.  The unpredictable forces of nature suddenly respond to the voice of Jesus, and the disciples are amazed.  They were terrified by the storm, but they are almost equally terrified by the way it suddenly ceases at Jesus command. 

 

The disciples would not forget that night.  It was their environment, their boat, their trade, and they had been reduced to panic.  Then Jesus controlled the situation and restored calm and order and suddenly everything was orderly.  In life’s environment we know best, Jesus understands, but it is in the storms of our live that we recognise him most fully.

 

Although for all of us, I am sure that we have encountered times when it seems as though God is asleep, that our prayers bounce back and as though he is ignoring us.  We should take heart, God may not always answer our prayers in the way we would like him to, but we can gain re-assurance that he is always there walking alongside us, guiding us, supporting us, confident of his assurance in his words, “lo I am with you always to the close of the age.”

 

Post Communion Prayer

O God, whose beauty is beyond our imagining
and whose power we cannot comprehend:
show us your glory as far as we can grasp it,
and shield us from knowing more than we can bear
until we may look upon you without fear;
through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

 

Copyright acknowledgement (where not already indicated above):

2 Corinthians 6.1-13 ©  1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Pub. Hodder & Stoughton
Job 38.1-11 ©  1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Pub. Hodder & Stoughton
Mark 4.35-41 ©  1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Pub. Hodder & Stoughton
Post Communion (3rd after Trinity) ©  1992 Janet Morley: All Desires Known (SPCK)
Collect (3rd after Trinity) ©  The Archbishops' Council 2000