A few weeks ago, the worshipping congregation described Sanctuary as a little boat riding the storm (here). So this week, let’s reflect on one of the Jesus-stills-the-storm texts. In Luke’s account, the story is surrounded by conflict. Immediately before Jesus and the disciples get in the boat, Jesus claims as his family those who do the word of God, even as his biological family stand at the door. Then he suggests that he and the disciples cross the lake to the other side i.e. the Gentile side.
The storm blows in; Jesus stills it; they arrive at the country of the Gerasenes. There they encounter a man with an ‘unclean spirit’ who lives alone among the tombs. Jesus heals him; the townsfolk are terrified and ask Jesus to leave; and Jesus commissions the healed man to go home to his people and tell everyone what God has done for him: a difficult task indeed.
What interests me is how following Jesus and seeking to do the word of God so often puts us at odds with family, with neighbours, and with social mores; how it can lead us towards the ‘other’; and how heading that way can unleash some violent storms. And yet, the gospel writer implies, when Jesus is in our boat, the boat stays afloat and the storm will come to an end: although even that can be strangely terrifying.
1. PREPARE: Make yourself comfortable. Uncross your legs; relax your body; uncomplicate your heart. Ask God to help you surrender to whatever it is that God wants to do in you or say to you today. Breathe slowly and deeply in, then out.
2. READ: Read the following passage aloud at least three times through, slowly. Listen carefully. Notice anything which captures your attention.
One day Jesus got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, ‘Let’s go across to the other side of the lake.’ So they put out, and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A gale swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in danger. They went to him and woke him up, shouting, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ They were afraid and amazed, and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?’ (Luke 8:22-25)
3. REFLECT: Allow a word, phrase or image to speak to you. What do you notice? What emotions do you feel? What questions are bubbling up? Reflect in silence.
4. RELATE: Now wonder: What ‘other’ might we be travelling towards? What storms are raging around us? What competing pressures tug at us? What forces threaten to sink the boat? What most terrifies you here: the storm, or the possibilities of Jesus’ power?
5. RESPOND: Do you have any sense of an invitation, comfort or challenge? Pray about this, and tell God about anything which is emerging. If you feel called to action, ask God to show you the next step.
6. REST: When you feel ‘done’, rest awhile. Savour the conversation you are having with God, and God’s loving presence. Close with a gesture of thanks: perhaps a simple bow. As you prepare to leave this space, if any word, phrase or image persists, let it guide you. Or if nothing in particular arises, remember this and notice how it makes you feel:
- Let’s go across to the other side …
Tools for the Journey
If this post has helped you on your faith journey, please consider sharing it via social media so that others may read it, too. And please also consider making a financial contribution. We are a small young community seeking to equip people for their journey with Jesus Christ. Your contributions help keep us afloat.