MVLC Members Hannah Johnsrud’s and Gretchen Johnsrud’s devotion for Monday, May 18.

Today, we invite you into a modified practice of Lectio Divina, “divine reading.” Together, we will READ the scriptures, REFLECT on the text and its messages today, and PRAY for God’s presence in our lives. We invite you to contribute your own reflections to this or other texts that are meaningful to you.

READ

On that day, when evening had come, [Jesus] said to [the disciples], “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped.  But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” —MARK 4:35-41

REFLECT

On that day, when evening had come, [Jesus] said to [the disciples], “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him.

What day was it again? “That day”? The one where we packed a school lunch, tucked our children to bed, laid out an outfit for work. The one where we prepared for our normal routine, along with everyone else, not knowing what was coming. We went as we were, not stocked up on beans or flour or toilet paper or sourdough starters or DIY home-improvement supplies.

A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped.

A great pandemic arose, a dangerous and contagious virus arose, unemployment arose, work-from-home arose, and the fear and anxiety and depression and claustrophobia beat into us. We were immediately being swamped, with too much or too little work, with learning to homeschool and work from home, with the knowledge that we can’t work from home, with caring for ourselves or other vulnerable loved ones.

But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

But God didn’t seem to be there. In fact, God seemed to be sleeping. And we were angry and frightened and upset, and we wanted to just shake God by the shoulders and wake Him up. We wanted to shout “Don’t you care, God? Don’t you care that we are perishing? Don’t you care that we are sick? Don’t you care that we can’t see our family and friends? Don’t you care that we can’t have graduations to recognize and celebrate our hard work? Do you not care that we are lonely? Do you not care that we can’t go to church? Do you not care that we feel lost and sad and angry without our senior pastor? Do you not care that we don’t know when this will end?

Do. You. Not. Care.

He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.

And God heard us crying out. He heard us yelling and making an almighty racket. And He was not angry at us for shaking Him awake. Instead, He looked at the storms inside our hearts and commanded “Peace! Be Still!” (And maybe there was a part of us that wanted to scream – We don’t want to be still! We’ve had quite enough of that, thank you very much!) But in knowing His presence with us through the storm, there was a certain kind of peace.

 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

And then we were filled with something beyond our words, all that “God-With-Us” teeming inside us. We turned to each other, through FaceTime and Zoom and Skype and GoogleHangouts, and we asked one another, “What is this? What is going on? Who is this God?” And we reminded each other, in the gentle I’ve-told-you-this-a-million-times voice of Jesus who is with us on the boat, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith? Do you not remember that we are children of the resurrection, that we know the end of the story? Do you not know that death and fear and illness do not have the final say in our lives? Do you not remember that the storm has been stilled and the grave is empty? Do you not know?”

Still, we knew that the storms would arise again, stirring up the sea. But we also knew the storm would still. And we sang and prayed and carried on. And we reminded each other that we are Resurrection People.

PRAY

Almighty and Loving God,

We are in the midst of a great storm: beaten by waves that seem to have no end. Hear our cries of distress. Remind us that you are in the boat with us. Calm our troubled hearts with your Word. Nudge us away from fear and towards faith. Open our ears to hear your invitation: Peace, Be Still.

Amen.

Image: Photograph of the Sea of Galilee, November 2018, by Hannah Johnsrud.