Pentecost V – Don’t you care that we are perishing?

The First Reading from I Samuel 17:1a, 4-11, 19-23, 32-49

Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle; they were gathered at Socoh, and there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. 5He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. 6He had greaves of bronze on his legs and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. 7The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron; and his shield-bearer went before him. 8He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. 9If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” 10And the Philistine said, “Today I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man, that we may fight together.” 11When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.  19Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, were in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. 20David rose early in the morning, left the sheep with a keeper, took the provisions, and went as Jesse had commanded him. He came to the encampment as the army was going forth to the battle line, shouting the war cry. 21Israel and the Philistines drew up for battle, army against army. 22David left the things in charge of the keeper of the baggage, ran to the ranks, and went and greeted his brothers. 23As he talked with them, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines, and spoke the same words as before. And David heard him.  32David said to Saul, “Let no one’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” 33Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are just a boy, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” 34But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father; and whenever a lion or a bear came, and took a lamb from the flock, 35I went after it and struck it down, rescuing the lamb from its mouth; and if it turned against me, I would catch it by the jaw, strike it down, and kill it. 36Your servant has killed both lions and bears; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, since he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37David said, “The Lord, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.” So Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you!” 38Saul clothed David with his armor; he put a bronze helmet on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail. 39David strapped Saul’s sword over the armor, and he tried in vain to walk, for he was not used to them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these; for I am not used to them.” So David removed them.  40Then he took his staff in his hand, and chose five smooth stones from the wadi, and put them in his shepherd’s bag, in the pouch; his sling was in his hand, and he drew near to the Philistine. 41The Philistine came on and drew near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. 42When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was only a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. 43The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the field.”45But David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46This very day the Lordwill deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the Philistine army this very day to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not save by sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.”  48When the Philistine drew nearer to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. 49David put his hand in his bag, took out a stone, slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead; the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.

The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark 4:35-41

35On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38But 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?” 39He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”   The Gospel of Christ     Praise to you Lord Christ

Pentecost V- Homily by Mother Beth

Recently I felt compelled to set a new goal for myself.  I decided that one of my new goals is to get strong – physically healthy and strong but also strong in the way I handle things – brave, if you will.  And of course, as soon as I set that as a goal – as soon as I started talking to a few people about it… do you know what happened?  I had to face some situations in which I had to be strong.

The disciples in today’s gospel are in a similar situation.  They have been listening to Jesus teaching about the kingdom of God and what that is like – that have been journeying with Jesus as he has performed miracles and set people free and then Jesus, at the end of a long day says, let’s go across the lake to the other side.  Let’s move on – Let’s continue our journey elsewhere.

So the disciples get into a boat with Jesus or rather they took him with them in a boat.  “And a great windstorm arose and the boat was being swamped.  But he was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.”

The disciples call out to Jesus – “Don’t you care that we are perishing?”  And Jesus woke up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!”

Notice that Jesus does not speak to the disciples first – He speaks to the storm.  Jesus is God – the creator of the universe – he speaks directly to the weather – to the wind and the sea.

Then he turns toward the disciples and says, “Why are you afraid?  Have you still no faith?”

Psalm 121 says,  “I lift my eyes up to the mountains.  Where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord – the maker of heaven and earth.”

II Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…  I will gladly boast about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may dwell in me… for when I am weak then I am strong.”

Once Jesus had calmed the storm the disciples had a first hand encounter with who he really was – they were amazed that the wind and the storm obeyed him.  Only God has the power to do that!   And it is his strength that empowers and enables us to overcome – to stand strong in the face difficult situations and storms in our life.

In the first lesson, we hear the story of David and Goliath.  An encouraging story for anyone who has felt the need to stand up to a bully or to overcome adversity.  At one time or another we have all faced a giant or two.

But let’s not miss some interesting points.  David, as the youngest in his family, has been off tending the sheep while his older brothers have been training with King Saul and the army.  David comes to check on his brothers because his father, Jesse, said that he should bring them some food and check on their status.  While he is there, David overhears – well everyone can hear – Goliath boasting and calling even taunting the Israelite army.   He is calling for a challenger and the soldiers of Israel are afraid to go up against him.  He is a seasoned warrior and he towers over them – he is dressed in full armour and ready for battle.

David has never been in battle.  In fact, he cannot stand when he tries to wear the armour – he is not strong.  But David knows that Goliath is speaking against God – David sees this not as a battle between himself and Goliath but a battle between God and Goliath and he is certain who will win in that battle!

SO while it is ridiculous to his brothers, that David would be so arrogant as to think that he should go into battle against this massive soldier – this Philistine, all David knows is that God has always been faithful to deliver him in the past.  He recounts the many times that he was able to save the sheep from lions or bears.  He tells these stories not to show how strong he is or how smart he is but to encourage King Saul and the others that God did it.  He emphasizes this in verse 37,

37David said, “The Lord, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.”

He recognizes that it is not his own strength but God’s.  And God who has been faithful to save him in all the other encounters, will be faithful again.

You see my strength is limited, no matter how hard I work at it – and I intend to work at it – there are always things – circumstances that are Bigger than us. We need to be encouraged and reminded that our God is the creator of the universe – our God speaks to the wind and the waves and they obey.  Our God saves the young shepherd boy from the sword of the giant Goliath.

When Jesus invites us on a journey – when he calls us to go with him to the other side, it is His intention to journey with us.  It is His strength that keeps us safe and strengthens us to step out and do the things that we must do to carry on.   He is always with us and when we are at our weakest – that is when we recognize that these things are beyond our own ability – that is when we really recognize that God is God and depend on Him to be our strength and to deliver us.

As we step forward into that strange world of change that we do not like so much – as we begin this next part of the journey with Jesus Christ – let us remember that He is the one who invited us on this journey and that He who is God, the creator of the universe, is more than able to get us safely to the other side.  Amen.

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A transplanted Canadian living in sunny Florida. An Episcopal priest, wife, mother, dog lover, story teller and avid movie watcher.

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