Message from our Vicar
To everyone at St John’s, Gowerton and St Barnabas, Waunarlwydd,
For 3rd Sunday after Trinity
20th June, Trinity 3 St John’s
Gospel: Mark chapter 4 verses 35-41
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. AMEN
The last few days have been emotion-filled for me, not emotional but ’emotion-filled’. Last Sunday as I consecrated the elements, I was filled with a feeling of privilege, don’t get me wrong, every service I lead is important, but last Sunday made me pause and give thanks. Then last Tuesday night at our church committee meeting I was filled with hope by the enthusiasm and commitment they all showed in our discussions. On Wednesday night there was the football, it began with a feeling of apprehension and ended with the emotion of elation; and then on Friday I officiated at the funeral of Frances Davies’ brother, I experienced humility due to his dedication and achievements during his life. PAUSE
So why do I tell you all this?
Well, because today’s gospel deals with the emotion of fear. So my text is:
“Teacher, do you not care if we perish?”
They were frightened, they were full of fear.
Fear crops up a lot in the Bible, for instance in the Wisdom of Solomon, chapter 17 verse 12,
“Fear is nothing but the abandonment of the aid that comes from reason.” And also in Matthew chapter 10 verse 28, “Do not fear those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul.”
And also is our hymns and carols such as, “Fear not, said he, for mighty dread had seized their troubled minds”.
I believe fear is a very diverse emotion, for example, if a pigeon got into this building this morning I’d be out of here as fast as my little legs could take me! Dare I call that illogical fear? But fear can also be deep and all-consuming, and life changing. What fills you with fear? Perhaps some of the more irrational ones would be: heights, spiders, thunder, small spaces, clowns, butterflies, dentists (!!!!), and if we’re honest with ourselves, what about the deep seated fears: loneliness, not being in control, change, failure, the unknown future.
Thomas Murton, the academic theologian and mystic, wrote the following – it’s quite a long quote so bear with me.
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know my own self, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not necessarily mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you and I hope I have that desire in everything that I do. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road even though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always.
Even though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for you are ever with me and you will never leave me to face my peril alone.”
Jesus asleep in the boat is a symbol of that serenity and calm, not that he doesn’t care. Whether he calmed the winds or not, he certainly calmed his disciples. That’s the miracle for me – that Christ with his peace was with them in the boat; and he is with me, with me in the midst of the storms, and he can give me peace.
We don’t trust him enough.