Storms at Sea and Taking a Nap
When I was serving as a Navy chaplain, one of my assignments was aboard U.S.S. CONCORD (AFS-5) out of Norfolk, Virginia. She was a fleet replenishment ship and we carried “Beans, Bullets, and Black Oil” (she’s now resting on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii as part of an artificial reef). Our mission was to make sure in other ships in our battle group had the necessary supplies to help them carry out their mission. CONCORD was not a large ship, but she could hold her own at sea.
One day a little windstorm named “Hugo” popped up (this was in September of 1989). Since the National Hurricane Center predicted it would hit the east coast of the United States somewhere between Jacksonville, Florida and Cape May, New Jersey we were ordered (along with the rest of the Atlantic Fleet) to “put to sea and scatter,” meaning we would ride out the storm at sea. That night as “Hugo” slammed into Charleston, South Carolina, we face the wrath of an angry sea with waves breaking over the ship, plunging head-long into troughs between the waves and taking “green water” back to the pilothouse. The ship rode like a chip, because we were only carrying about half of our usual load (replenishment ships and tankers ride better when they are fully loaded.” Needless to say, no one aboard got any sleep that night.
There is nothing more terrifying than being caught in a storm at sea. In the midst of the wind and the waves one can get a clear glimpse of just how small and insignificant we are in the face of nature in her rage.
This was where the disciples found themselves in today’s Gospel reading. There they were, out on the Sea of Galilee, in the middle of the night, in the midst of a raging windstorm. The Sea of Galilee is known for its sudden, violent wind-storms that were known to sink boats. Peter. Andrew, James and Joun being fishermen understood the peril of the moment, and all of them had friends and acquaintances who disappeared because of one of these storms.
There they are out in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, in a storm that is about to sink their boat. There were terrified, and rightly so.
They begin looking for Jesus. Where is he? In the stern taking a nap – it had been a long day and he was tired. The disciples wake him up, and he responds by saying to the storm, “Peace, be still.” Shush! Be quiet! The story continues that the sea became calm and the waves ceased. Jesus chides them, by asking, where is their faith?”
It’s the same for us. How many times have we felt battered and bruised by the storms and tempests of life? Jesus response to us is the same as then when he speaks to our storms and says, “Peace, be still!” In other words, “relax, calm down.” Our faith reminds us that no storm will every overwhelm us. That’s the Good News for us this morning is when the storms of life arise, and they will, our faith empowers us to hear the still small voice speaking to our souls – “Peace, be still.” Then maybe we can relax enough to take a nap.