Scripture/Sermon of the Day. June 20, 2021

Mark 4:35-41

Jesus stops a storm
35 Later that day, when evening came, Jesus said to them, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the lake.” 36 They left the crowd and took him in the boat just as he was. Other boats followed along.
37 Gale-force winds arose, and waves crashed against the boat so that the boat was swamped. 38 But Jesus was in the rear of the boat, sleeping on a pillow. They woke him up and said, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re drowning?”
39 He got up and gave orders to the wind, and he said to the lake, “Silence! Be still!” The wind settled down and there was a great calm. 40 Jesus asked them, “Why are you frightened? Don’t you have faith yet?”
41 Overcome with awe, they said to each other, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey him!”

Reflection/sermon:

I. Two days ago Annie graduated from Hamden Middle School. We sat in lawn chairs on the grassy circle in front of the school while each student was called forward to accept their diploma.

II. What I loved about this was the diversity of all of us there, the parents and students. I am grateful that as a lifelong student in Haden’s public schools, Annie has shared classrooms with children from the Middle East, Asia, Mexico, Europe, Africa, Russia. There were children at the graduation from black and white families, and mixed families.
In her school, Annie has experienced that we are one, large, mixed family. And I loved sitting there in front of that school, on the lawn, with this wonderful mix of people. I don’t know most of them, but I was grateful to be a part of that family. A spirit of love surrounded us.
We didn’t say a prayer — and we didn’t need to because the whole ceremony was a prayer — God was present in our diversity and the communion we shared with each other.

III. But I also felt a sadness as we stood and we began to say the pledge of allegiance. We all said: “I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the United States of America.” That’s where the sadness came in. Saying that word “united” feels dishonest. Because we are not united. We could say, I pledge allegiance TO THE IDEA of the United States of America. But everyone knows that our states are not united. In fact, we’re moving in the opposite direction— we are becoming the INCREASINGLY DIVIDED states of America.

IV. And it seems impossible to heal our divisions. We say “with liberty and justice for all.” But that ideal seems impossible. It’s not happening.
And that’s what our readings are about this morning. TWO IMPOSSIBLE SITUATIONS LEADING TO DEATH. The story of David and Goliath about a fight to the death between a boy and a 9 foot tall warrior. The odds of the boy winning are about zero. Impossible.
In the New Testament, the disciples, and Jesus, are caught in a killer storm on the Sea of Galilee — their boat is filling with water and about to sink. The odds of surviving are zero.
And yet David does the impossible and defeats Goliath. And Jesus says three words and everything becomes eerily calm and no one dies.

V. Two impossible situations made possible by God.
Right now in America we have our own impossible situation — OUR GOLIATH AND OUR KILLER STORM IS RACISM, THE IDEA THAT WE ARE DIFFERENT FROM ONE ANOTHER AND THAT ONE RACE HAS SOME KIND OF SUPERIORITY OR ADVANTAGE OVER ANOTHER.
We have tried to defeat this giant. We have fought a Civil War. We have enacted civil rights legislation. We have made Juneteenth a Federal Holiday. But the hate and the prejudice is still here. Maybe WE are holding some of it! The fight for equal voting rights for every American is still being fought as new laws to suppress the voting rights of people of color are enacted in states across America. A federal anti-lynching law has been stalled in Congress.

AND SEVERAL STATES HAVE MADE IT ILLEGAL FOR TEACHERS TO TALK ABOUT RACISM!

VII. But whether we talk about David and Goliath or Jesus and the killer storm, the message of the Bible is the same: no matter how hopeless our situation seems, we don’t need to worry, but have faith in God. Jesus says everything will be fine.
I don’t know how things will all turn out. Will our democracy survive? Maybe not. Will the new voter suppression laws succeed? They might. Will we ever heal and overcome the racism that has poisoned our nation’s soul from its earliest days? After all these years, that seems impossible.
But don’t worry, Jesus says. Because ultimately we will not be saved by our government, whatever form it becomes. And our laws won’t save us either. BUT GOD WILL — our salvation comes to us as God’s loving action upon our hearts, transforming us into the presence of Jesus Christ and his love and compassion for everyone. Even now we are being raised to new life with Jesus, every one of us. Because that is God’s will — on earth as it is in heaven.