Thursday, August 2, 2012

“It’s a love story; the story continues”

This is the sermon manuscript from the sermon preached on August 28/29.  The accompanying Gospel story is John 6:1-21.  This was the final sermon I preached on internship and with this sermon another chapter of my life came to a close.  I would like to thank the people of Trinity Lutheran for their love and support over my year of internship!

            Dear friends, we are part of a love story.  We are part of the greatest love story that is still being written, the love story that was started by God.  We explored this love story in a sermon way back last October.  As I reflect upon the last year of my life, this story is at the heart of my journey of faith.  We are all part of the greatest love story that is still being written. 
So let’s step back for a moment to that sermon from October.  We were in the Gospel of Matthew and on that day we heard about a lawyer who stepped out of the crowd to challenge Jesus.  The Pharisees send out their best, a scholar of the Law, to trap Jesus.  “Teacher, which commandment in the Law is the greatest?” Out of 613 laws in the books of Moses, which one is the most important?  To which Jesus replies; “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and first.  And the second is like it; you shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”  Jesus sums up the whole Law in two simple statements; “Love God. Love God’s people.”
            It all starts with the word love.  And the love that Jesus is talking about isn’t just any old love.  Jesus is not talking about a love that is self-motivated.  Jesus is not talking about a love that is self-interested.  Jesus is talking about a love that takes a high level of interest in the life of another.  Jesus is talking about agape.  Agape is not just a word, it’s way of life.  Agape  literally means “a relatively high level of interest in the well-being of another.” Agape is not just about feelings, it’s about taking interest in the life of another, the wholeness of another, the completeness of another.  Agape is about meeting the needs of those we meet.  And while this word does not appear in our story today, the practice of agape is stitched into every line.
            Today we meet Jesus on mountain side next to the Sea of Galilee as he is surrounded by a rather large crowd.  What follows in John’s Gospel is what has become known to us as the feeding of the five thousand.  It is a beautiful story and it is the only miracle recorded in all four Gospels.  We could talk for days about what this story means.  But for a moment, let’s just take a look at Jesus.  What does Jesus see?
Jesus sees a sea of people.  5000 thousand people John tells us, but perhaps there were more.  Scholars debate about the real total.  When you add the women and children that may have been there, the number could be as high as 20,000 people, some have proposed.  But whatever the number, Jesus has quite a crowd in front of him.
   And anywhere you have a large crowd gathered, there are going to be those who are hungry and this crowd is no different.  Actually this crowd is filled with really hungry people.  You see, this crowd consists of the poor and the hungry and the oppressed.  The peasant farmers who cannot produce enough for their families because of drought and Roman taxes.  The beggars, the homeless, and the day laborers.  The outcasts of society.  This crowd is filled with people who may not have had a full meal in days, who have been following Jesus because they saw the signs he had been doing for the sick.  They want in on the power that Jesus displays.  They have come for healing and to maybe get a new shot at life.  This is the crowd that Jesus sees when he looks around.  This is a crowd filled with people that have been cast away by the world.  It is a dismal scene.  But remember, this is a love story.  So what does Jesus do?   He feeds them.  Jesus chooses to reach out to them.  Jesus chooses to live out agape. Jesus chooses to love.
The scene plays out like some great heavenly banquet and Jesus serves as both the host and the servant.  Five loaves of bread and two fish come from a little boy.  Just five little barley loaves and two small fish.  But in God’s kingdom this is enough.  In the act of hosting, Jesus takes the bread and gives thanks.  In the act of serving, Jesus breaks the bread and passes it around.  And everyone eats their fill.  Everyone has enough.  Not a person is left hungry.  No one is excluded because of who they are.  All have a place at the table.  This is the radical hospitality of God.  This is the power of agape.  This is the power of God’s love.     
This is the love story that you and I have been born into.  This is the love story that we continue to write as we follow Jesus in a life that takes interest in the well being of others.  This is the love story that gives life to our world.  By the grace of God we get to participate in this love story with our lives.  But how?  How do we get to continue this story?
Let’s think about the story again for one moment.  What does Jesus use to display the power of God’s love?  Barley loaves and small fish.  In other words, ordinary things.  Items that were found in the lunch box of a little boy.  God’s love breaks into our world through ordinary things like bread and fish.  Or water and words.  Or bread and wine.  This great love story that we are a part of is written through ordinary things paired with the extraordinary love of God.
Last week in New Orleans I got to witness the love story continue through our youth.  On Thursday we had the opportunity to practice justice and we thought that we would be helping to clear housing lots that had been overgrown since Katrina.  But it seems that the weather had other ideas, our project sat under six inches of water, and to be honest we were disappointed.  But then God showed up.  As we sat in the fellowship hall God showed up in ordinary things.  A couple of youth helped to serve a meal to some kids who were staying at the church.  The rest of us were asked to cut up bread for the next few meals.  Then we all gathered around and heard the stories of a man who had been in New Orleans since the shadow of the storm we learned how much the city had come back, and how much work was still left to be done.  Through ordinary things like food carts and bread knives and words we got to witness how God’s love was breaking into our lives.  We witnessed the love story being written.  I want to tell you that our youth are not finished writing this love story.  They are filled with the Spirit and are loving like Jesus.  I dare say that they are ready to write new chapters that will help to change our world.     
 And then there are you my friends, you have been writing a new chapter to this love story all year long.  I have seen God’s love in this place.  I have seen God’s love in you.  When Katie and I arrived we witnessed God’s love story unfolding as you pounded us with food and ordinary things that helped us to get started here in Bradenton.  I watch God’s love story unfold in your excitement and in your energy.  Through your words of support, through your deep care for the vicar program, the love story is being written.  I watched as new pages to the love story were written as your hands reached out to the needy members of our community over and over again through ordinary things like food and clothes to Our Daily Bread and the One Stop Center.  Through the money and time you have given to the PACE school for Girls and the Learning to Fish Recovery Program.  God’s love story is being written in bold letters by you dear people!
 And now we come to the hard part of today, the goodbye.  I want to say thank you for letting me walk with you along the way for a year.  Thank you for sharing your time.  Thank you for sharing your faith.  And thank you for sharing your love with me.  Together we have written another chapter to the greatest love story that is still being written.  In a moment we will gather around the table one more time together to be filled with ordinary things, bread and wine, paired with the extraordinary love of God.  We when come away from the table today we will be filled and refreshed and hopefully changed through the love of Jesus.  I know that you have changed me, honed my gifts for ministry and challenged me in ways I could not have imagined a year ago.  Dear friends this year has been a beautiful chapter to the love story and as we come away from the table today this chapter will come to a close, but that doesn’t mean the story is over.    Tomorrow will dawn bright and new with a fresh page waiting to be filled with the story of God’s love.  Write the love story friends.  And may God bless you as you do!      

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

“Keep on trusting!”

This is the manuscript from the sermon preached on 7/8 July.  The accompanying scripture is Mark 6:1-12.
“Jesus was amazed at their unbelief.”  That’s how Jesus reacts to the home town crowd.  He is amazed at their unbelief.  Jesus, the mover and the shaker, the calmer of storms and bringer of new life, the one who comes with healing in his hands, can get no more than a tepid applause from those in his home town.  Yes, he lays his hands on a few people and he is able to cure them, but beyond those isolated incidents, the people just look at him in disbelief.  His own people, his family, his distant kinfolk, cannot believe what they are seeing or what they are hearing.  So Jesus just shakes his head and walks away. 
This is an important moment for the movement of Mark’s Gospel.  We should not tread lightly here, even though it seems convenient to glaze over this issue of the home crowd’s unbelief and pass it off as them being too familiar with Jesus, with the boyhood Jesus or whatever other image they had of Jesus.  Something much larger is at stake. 
So far in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus has only been rejected by the demonic forces he encounters, the religious leaders who are plotting to kill him, and folks from a gentile town who watched in horror as Jesus ran their herd of pigs into the sea.  This moment occurs in Jewish country, the home town folk, and begs us to look deeper.  This moment was not expected, but in the long arc of Mark’s Gospel, it foreshadows the ultimate rejection of Jesus, the Messiah, by the very people he was sent to serve.  This is a moment that foreshadows the cross. 
The word at the center of this moment is unbelief, πισταν, but I think that it is better translated as “lack of faith.”  The root of this word is πστις, the word we translate as faith.  It is the lack of faith by the home town crowd that hinders Jesus from his ministry of teaching and healing.  It is a lack of faith the keeps Jesus from the deeds of power that he has performed up to this point in the story.  It is a lack of faith that stops the kingdom of God in its tracks in the home town of Jesus and causes him to walk away.  The home town folk do not seem to have faith that Jesus can help them and so he is left powerless in their midst.  And it is heart breaking.   
            And what is so heart breaking about this lack of belief, this lack of faith, is the lack of response by the people.  Jesus comes to town offering a relationship and is met with silence.  In every healing story so far in Mark’s Gospel, at the heart of what takes place, is someone reaching out to Jesus and Jesus responding with grace and healing.  The kingdom of God breaks into the world through Jesus taking interest in people and their well-being.  The kingdom of God is about giving people new life through love and service.  And that’s exactly what Jesus offers.  He loves people.  He reaches out to meet their needs.  Jesus is all about forming relationships.  But in his home town he is met with no response.  The sick are left at home.  The troubles are left on the shelf.  No one comes forward for help of any kind, as if there is nothing wrong in the world which is laughably untrue.  And Jesus is amazed at their lack of faith.            
Because faith has everything to do with action.  Faith is not static or stationary, faith is on the move.   As Frederick Buechner writes, “Faith is better understood as a verb than as a noun, as a process than as a possession.  It is on-again-off-again rather than once-and-for-all.  Faith is not being sure of where you’re going, but going anyway. ” Faith is not something we have, it is something that we live out with our lives.  Faith is about relationships.  Faith is about trusting God and others.  Faith and trust lie at the heart of our relationship with God and one another.   
Last week we heard the story of Jarius the Synagogue leader and his dying daughter.  I am sure Jarius believed in Jesus, but it was faith and trust that led Jarius to seek out Jesus and fall at his feet.  And when the bad news came from the house, I am sure Jarius’ faith slipped away, but Jesus was right beside him.  “Do not fear.  Keep on believing.”  Or to get at the heart of what Jesus is saying; “Do not fear!  Keep on trusting!”  Keep on trusting Jarius.  Because if Jesus can raise the bleeding woman to new life, then surely he can raise your daughter.  There is enough power to go around.  Keep on trusting.  That is faith.    
Faith and trust give us the courage to take the first steps of the journey of following Jesus.  Yes we may believe in Jesus and believe in what he has to say, but he is asking us to follow.  Jesus is asking us to trust him as we walk along the way of discipleship.  Jesus is asking us to trust him as we participate in the kingdom of God by loving and serving our neighbors.  And friends, we are empowered for the journey.  Just as he sent the disciples out with his authority, he sends us out empowered and set free to follow and serve.    
A little over a year ago I was invited to preach at my home church.  I went to preach to the home town crowd.  At the time my home church was engaged in a heated debate that was dividing the faith community.  I was scared out of my mind.  Clearly it was a moment that I knew I would be accepted or rejected for, but it was a moment where the rubber met the road of taking the steps of faith and trusting that Jesus was already part of the journey.  Trusting that God’s kingdom is already at work in our world.  To this day there are people who will not speak to me or acknowledge my presence, but the good news was shared and the kingdom was proclaimed.  Jesus calls us not to dwell in the moments of rejection.  He empowers us to move on and keep spreading the Gospel.  Not to worry over being rejected, but to rejoice in the kingdom.  To rejoice in God’s love for all.  To let go and trust in God. 
Is it risky to live out our faith by following Jesus?  Yes.  Will we be met with opposition as we spread the good news about God?  Yes.  Might we be rejected when we try to love and serve others in the name of Jesus?  Clearly!  If today’s story from Mark is any indication, the way of following Jesus will be filled with both acceptance and rejection.  If we follow Jesus, there will be times when we will be both loved and potentially hated for loving and serving God.  But Jesus is right there beside us, “Do not fear!  Keep on trusting!”     Jesus has empowered us, just as he empowered the disciples, to spread the good news of God’s kingdom with all whom we met.  Jesus calls us to respond to what we believe by taking the steps of faith and trust!
            Dear friends, we have been entrusted with the good news of God’s kingdom and have been called to share that good news with the world. Through our baptism into Jesus Christ, we have been empowered to take the steps of faith and to follow Jesus along the way of discipleship.  We can trust that Jesus will be with us as we love and serve our neighbors.  Do not fear people of God, keep on trusting.  Keep on following Jesus.  May God stir up your faith, this day and always, as you share the good news of God’s love with the world.    

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

“New hope. New being. New life.”

This is the manuscript from the sermon preached on the weekend of July 1.  The supporting scripture reading is Mark 5:21-43.

You could have cut the tension in the house with a knife.  Everyone was looking at Jesus.  He had just run the mourners turned comedy troupe out of the house for laughing at his suggestion that the little girl was only sleeping.  It seems that the weeping and mourning over the injustice of a little girl’s death was no match for the ridiculous notion that she could still be alive.  “Why do you make a commotion and weep?” Jesus said, “The child is not dead but sleeping?”  But how can that be?  
These people knew death all too well.  The grief of the mother and the father was real.  The pain at losing their child was real.  A future where she would no longer darken the door of that house had seemed so certain.  But this reality was deemed poppycock by Jesus and he is met with laughter.  He throws the would-be mourners out of the house and then reaches for the mother’s hand as he walks to the backroom. 
            The air is still and the house is on pins and needles.  The girl lies quite and tranquil as if she is only sleeping, but there is no hope in Jarius as Jesus reaches out for her hand.  Yes, there had been hope at the dock, when Jesus got off the boat.  There had been hope as the crowd pressed in and around them as Jarius fell at Jesus’ feet pleading, “My little girl is at the point of death.  Come and lay your hands on her so that she may be made well and live.”  There had been hope when Jesus agreed to come along and the long procession to the house started.  But that hope was killed hours ago by bad news in the market, “your daughter is dead.  Why trouble the teacher any further.”  
            But Jesus was not troubled by those words, “Do not fear, keep on believing,” he said to Jarius.  Jesus had not lost hope.  And so here he is in the backroom of the house of Jarius, Jesus has his hand outstretched and taking the hand of the little girl’s in his he says, “Talitha cum.”  Like a mother calling to her child in the sweetness of the early morning, “Talitha cum.”  Mark translates it for those of us who don’t speak Aramaic, Little girl, I say to you, rise!” 
 And immediately she rises.  Just like Simon’s mother-in-law, who was dead back in chapter 1, she rises.  Just like Jesus, who was dead as a door nail in the tomb for three days until that first Easter morning, she rises.  Mark uses the same word to describe each one of these events, the Greek word γερω (hegero) which means to rise.  This is a word of resurrection that Marks uses in each instance.  Mark wants us to make this connection because this is a story of resurrection.  This is the power that resides in Jesus.  This is the power that took away the sting of death.  This is the power of the kingdom of God.  Jesus raises this girl to new life.         
And all in the room are amazed at what has just happened.  Just as the women are amazed at the empty tomb and the words of the young man, “He has been raised, he is not here.”  In the midst of all the commotion, Jesus, keeping his head about him calls for something to eat.  Surely the girl must be hungry. 
            I wonder if Jarius, even in his joy, had a moment of déjà vu.  After all, he had already seen this moment play out before him that very afternoon.  He was part of the crowd when the woman had reached out for Jesus.  He had been a witness to the whole scene.  He was not the only one who had been waiting for Jesus at that dock.      
            In the crowd there had been another who has been waiting, a woman who thought that it was finally her chance.  Mark gives her no name, only a sad story of twelve years of pain.  For twelve years she has been bleeding.  For twelve years she has been throwing money at doctors who always tell her they just don’t know what is wrong.  She has spent all that she has and she is no better, only worst.  For twelve long years she had been as good as dead to the community.  An outsider.  Unclean.  Unwelcomed.  As good as dead because no one seemed to care if she was alive and no one lifted a finger to help.  Perhaps she had been stealing away to the dock, hoping against hope that Jesus would come and now she seizes her moment.  “If I but touch his cloths I will be made well.”  
Out of the crowd she moves quickly and in a moment her waiting is over.  As she touches the cloak of Jesus she feels it in her body, she is finally healed, and from her escapes a sign of relief that has been waiting twelve long years.  But this moment is not hers alone, Jesus too senses that something had transpired.  He feels that power has left him, so in the middle of the crowd he stops.  “Who touched me?” 
Jarius looks murderous at the sudden halt.  The disciples scoff at Jesus’ thought that he could tell that someone touched him when so many were pressing upon him.  The woman’s sign of joy is immediately stifled by fear.  As Jesus is looking around, she could have made a break for it, but in fear and trembling she falls at his feet, telling him the whole truth. 
It’s a moment of true grace.  Jesus speaks words of healing to this woman.  “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”  It is another moment of resurrection.  “Daughter, your faith has made you whole.”  No longer is she unwelcomed or unclean.  No longer is she as good as dead, Jesus has raised her to new life.  She is a daughter.  Part of the family.  She has a place in God’s kingdom.  That’s the power of the one who was sent into the world, not to condemn, but to save.  Jesus brings new life.  Jesus chooses not to leave people to struggle under the conditions that steal their lives away.  He chooses to reach out and change them.  That’s the power of Jesus.  That’s the power of the kingdom of God.  That is the outcome of being resurrected.  New hope.  New being.  New life. 
Resurrection is still going on today dear friends, and it’s happening right before our eyes.  This week I had the chance to visit Learn to Fish Recovery program.  This is the program that we were introduced to a few weeks ago, a program for which we are collecting money and raising awareness.  You may have seen the bulletin board out in the narthex.  This program is all about resurrection.  It’s about giving people new life.  The goal of Learn to Fish is to protect the family unit and break the cycle of abuse and dysfunction that tears families apart.  Abuse steals life away.  Abuse renders people all but dead, only partially alive.  Through Learn to Fish, women are given a chance to live in a safe, structured environment where they are given the opportunity to heal.  A network of support is provided, skills sets are allowed to develop and grow, and transformation begins to take shape.  Resurrection happens as women are brought to new life.  Do not fear, keep on believing,” as Jesus says.
Our lives too are filled with these moments of resurrection.  Over and over again during the course of our lives we find ourselves in need of being resurrected.  We may be broken physically, emotionally, spiritually, only partially alive, not able to celebrate the fullness of the life that we have been given.  But Jesus comes to us and says to us, “Rise!”  The power that is in Jesus Christ gives new life not only to those who have died but also to us who only partially live.  Through family and friends, Jesus says to us, “Rise.”  Through faith communities like this, Jesus says to us, “Rise.”  So “rise” dear people of God.  Hear those words as you come away from the table, “Rise my daughters, fed and forgiven!”  “Rise my sons, blessed and set free.”  Jesus empowers us to share in the fullness of his new life, in his resurrection, in his life changing love.  Do not fear, keep on believing,” Jesus says to us all.       

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

"When storms rage..."

This is the manuscript from the sermon preached on June 23/24.  The supporting Gospel text is Mark 4:35-41.

It was time for a change.  At least Jesus thought so.  We don’t know how long he had been wandering the countryside in and around Capernaum and Galilee before he sensed it was time to move on, time to extend his ministry field.  Mark gives us no indication of time, no clue as to how long Jesus had been on the move teaching and healing and telling parables.  It could have been months, perhaps even a year, who knows.  But at some point, “on that day, when it was evening,” Mark tells us, Jesus knew that it was time for a change.  He has his eyes set on the horizon.  He is looking east, over the lake, when he turns to speak to his disciples.   
“Let us go across to the other side.”  It’s not so much an order from Jesus as it is an invitation or a suggestion, as if Jesus were inviting his disciples to go to the store with him or suggesting that they go to Carrabba’s for supper after a long day of teaching.  Jesus does not ask or plead or command.  “Let us go across to the other side,” Jesus says.  And so the disciples make ready for the trip.
The first clue that this is anything but a typical journey comes with the details used to describe their destination.  They’re rather sparse are they not?  No town is named.  No port to aim for.  Jesus simply tells the disciples, “Let us go across to the other side.”  Jesus uses a vague description of where they are going, the other side, which may be lost on us if we do not know what’s on the other side.  Remember that they are on the western edge of the Sea of Galilee and so far in Jesus’ ministry they have traveling through Jewish country.  Jesus has been healing and teaching and storytelling among the children of Israel.  The home crowd so to speak.  They have been in a familiar setting for the whole journey thus far.  But the other side, that’s a different story all together.
You see, on the other side lies the home of the Gentiles.  The outsiders.  The unclean.  They are not part of the family.  One does not simply visit the Gentiles on a whim.  You could be made unclean or worst.  You just don’t go to the other side.  Or perhaps put into terms that we recognize: The other side of the tracks.  The south side.  The west side.  Tin pan alley, the roughest place in town.  The place your mother warns you about when you are a kid.  You just don’t go to the other side.  But that’s exactly where Jesus wants to go because Jesus knows that the kingdom of God is not just for the hometown crowd.  The kingdom of God is not just for the children of Israel.  Jesus knows that God’s kingdom is not about us and them, insiders or outsiders, this side versus the other side, there is only God’s love that is for all people.  God’s kingdom is for all people and the next leg of Jesus’ earthy ministry is to break down this “us and them” mentality and proclaim the God’s kingdom is for all people. 
So perhaps the disciples, even before they set out, are nervous.  They know exactly what the other side means.  They know the legends.  They know the stories.  They know the law.  The other side, where the Gentiles live, is a place of the unclean, not fit for a proper Jew.  But that’s where Jesus wants to go, so without a word they set out. 
And then it strikes, the storm of the century, a storm that has four fishermen on their knees in fear.  Sure, if the tax collector had been on his knees praying, no one would have taken notice, he is a landlubber who is out of his comfort zone.  But they are all afraid, even the men who knew the Sea of Galilee and had called it home in their previous lives, the fishermen are out of their minds with fear.  And well, they should be.
Water is coming over the sides, the boat is being swamped, there aren’t enough buckets to go around and there is no hope to bail out the incoming water.  In their frantic frenzy they look to the only who doesn’t seem to notice, who is still asleep in the stern, who may have the power to save them all.  They run to Jesus and wake him up crying, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?!”
The mission appears to be failing.  The boat is sinking.  Whatever desire that Jesus had in going to the other side seems to be meeting chaotic resistance.  The disciples are in a panic and want nothing more than to save their own skin.  But Jesus will have none of it.  He is immediately on his feat, rebuking the wind and calming the sea, and in an instant all is at peace once more.  The storm had been calmed.   
Of all the miracles and healings that happen in the Gospels, this is one of the harder ones for us to wrap our heads around.  In a world of 24 hours weather channels and updates it is hard to image Jesus stilling a raging storm, but I believe that Mark is trying to tell us something deeper. 
Any trip to the other side, any attempt to extend the boundaries of the kingdom of God is going to meet resistance.  The winds of chaos and the storms of opposition will do their best to put a stop to God’s kingdom breaking into our world, but Jesus will have none of it.  Jesus’ mission to the other side will not be stopped.  God’s kingdom will not be denied, God’s purpose will not be thwarted.  The winds of chaos and disorder, silenced by God before creation, and again at the Reed Sea, will not get in the way of Jesus’ ministry.  The kingdom of God is for all people and Jesus is the one who will lay the groundwork for us to follow. 
I remember being in Seattle on a mission trip in high school and the crew I was a part of had been assigned the project of installing a new set of steps at one of the houses across town.  We were headed to the other side.  The community spoke mostly Spanish, most of them probably recent immigrants to the area.  Separated by boundaries of language and culture, we set to work taking out the old steps and putting in the supports for the new ones.  The water company had come out earlier in the week and marked all the major water lines for us so we steered clear of the pink markers on the ground.  We were finishing the hole to set the last post when the storm struck.  With what was supposed to be the final thrust of my shovel, a strange crunching sound erupted from the hole.  I had struck the water line and watched in horror as a geyser 10 feet tall formed in the front yard.  The house emptied out to witness this chaotic sight.  I tried to explain in broken Spanish that not all was lost, but my face was covered in a fear that I saw matched by the woman of the house.  We were kind strangers, but the mission was failing.  “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?!”  It was one of those kinds of moments.  Jesus we came here to do you will, what gives?!  After a few phone calls we got the water shut off and a crew came out to fix the pipe.  We came back to the sight the next day, expecting to be asked to leave, but we were met with a smile.  The mission could continue, the storm had been calmed. 
Friends, when follow in the footsteps of Jesus we are not promised that all will be clear.  Getting into the boat with Jesus is not like getting onto a cruise ship.  The winds of chaos will come and the storms of destruction will threaten to stop us in our tracks.  But remember that we are not alone.  Jesus journeys with us and through his love and power we can weather the storms.  Jesus, the one who calmed winds of the sea, the one who broke the sting of death when the winds of chaos raged on Good Friday, is the one who brought a word of peace and a promise of new life through his resurrection and he is still in our boat today.  With peace and power and healing in his wings he goes with as we spread the good news of God’s love.