Riding Out Storms
FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
Prayer of the Day: O God of creation, eternal majesty, you preside over land and sea, sunshine and storm. By your strength pilot us, by your power preserve us, by your wisdom instruct us, and by your hand protect us, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” Mark 4:38.
The ocean is often employed as a metaphor for trials and tribulations of life. Consider, for example, the old favorite “Jesus, Savior Pilot Me.” Here on Cape Cod those terrors are frequently anything but metaphoric. This week Michael Packard, a fifty-six year old lobster diver, suffered a broken leg after having been swallowed by one of our humpback whales. Thankfully, these gentle giants, that feed principally on plankton, have no taste for human flesh. Thus, after twenty seconds in the whale’s mouth, Mr. Packard was ejected just as a cyclist might spit out a fly. He is now qualified to be enrolled along with Jonah and Geppetto as one of the few people swallowed by a whale that lived to tell about it.
With the exception of our reading from Paul’s Second Letter to the church at Corinth, the lessons for this Sunday all speak in some fashion about the sea and its terrors. In language echoing Babylonian mythology, the Book of Job speaks of God’s triumph over the sea and God’s power that “proscribed bounds for it.” Job 38:10. The psalm recounts the terror of seagoing pilgrims caught in a storm. In our Gospel we find the disciples in a similar predicament crying out to Jesus, “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?” Mark 4:38. The ancient Israelites were not seafarers. They did not willingly take to the water. Only once in the Bible do we read about an Israelite taking a sea voyage. That story is recited in the Book of the aforementioned Jonah-and it did not end well.
Our love, fear and fascination with the sea is, I believe, grounded in what it tells us about ourselves. Read more