What did you learn at Church today, Callie? With a Chicken McNugget in one hand and a french-fry in the other, my daughter launched into her version of “Jesus Calms a Storm” right in the middle of Sunday lunch at McDonalds. I share with you the Gospel according to Callie: Jesus was asleep and there was a big storm, blah, blah, blah. The Disciples got scared and started shaking Jesus who didn’t want to wake up. They kept yelling and shaking him and screaming. “Jesus, wake up!” And the boat started rocking even worse because of them running all over scared and shaking Jesus. Finally Jesus woke up and said, “PEACE, quiet down!”
At this point Callie paused, gave an inquisitive look, took a bite of a french fry and said, “I wonder if Jesus was talking to the storm or to his Disciples.”
This is one of my favorite stories and I’ve used it in lots of different ways. The idea of Jesus speaking to the chaos that surrounds us is one of my favorites. I’ve heard and read tons of interpretation and exegesis on this text. But this thought was new to me and has me wondering…what if Jesus WAS talking to the Disciples?
Instead of Jesus just speaking to the wind and the sea, he was telling the Disciples, “Peace! Be Still! You are making the storm worse!”
As Church, it is clear that there are some turbulent waters around us. Chaos is a good way to describe the perception of many denominational bodies, but how much of that is real and how much of it is caused by people running around rocking the boat and screaming out of fear? All around me I hear people screaming at each other. Talking heads on TV, opposing views on Facebook, and differing theological views in the church are doing a lot of screaming and yelling. Lots of them mention Jesus.
It is clear that there are some turbulent waters around us. Chaos is a good way to describe the reality many people in the world live in every day. How much of our screaming and yelling is calling attention to their needs? How much of our attention is directed at the chaos that engulfs them? How much of our Jesus shouting is helping anyone?
The Church has always been and always will be in a stage of change and growth as we respond to the new storms that brew in our world. God empowers us to face these changes and challenges. As individuals we are personally touched by many of the storms around us. We are wounded and in need of comfort, but together we are the Church and we have to figure out how to respond without screaming and yelling. I get so upset watching the church talk and talk without ever taking a substantial step in any direction. It makes me want to scream at the top of my lungs. But God is still speaking and says, “Quiet down!” In those moments, I remember how well screaming and yelling worked for me and my father when I was younger. We would scream and yell and occasionally bring God’s name into the conversation. Neither of us would budge.
History has yet to show us a time of peace and tranquility free from war and natural disaster. Not a life has been lived that was not touched by loss at some point. Yet, we go on shouting at the heavens and each other in hopes of the peaceable kingdom.
So, let’s assume Jesus is talking to us.
Lets hush up, calm down and chill out. Lets listen up, sit down and hang out. Lets face up to our fears, lay down our defensive posture and stop freaking out.
Maybe when we calm ourselves we can bring peace to the storm.