Text: Mark 4:35-41 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “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?”
One of my quarantine comforts has been to watch old tv shows and movies that bring some much-needed nostalgia into my isolation. It helps me to forget the fears, worries and anxieties that exist in my own life and the lives of others that I’m in communication with. My show of choice the other day was Kim Possible. I used to watch this almost every day in elementary and middle school. I always loved Kim’s ability to fight bad guys, win and then head back to school as if it was ‘no big’. Her skill, ability, and wit were always met with the clumsy, comedic and sometimes useless interference of her best friend and sidekick Ron Stoppable. Ron was always getting caught, yelling for help and losing his pants in the middle of a mission. He didn’t have the same confidence and optimism that Kim did. He was usually afraid, especially if monkeys or his old summer camp was involved. It was always such a clear distinction and I always kind of wondered how it felt for Ron to be living in Kim’s shadow in that way – how it was for him after the mission, when he’d seen Kim defeat yet another villain and just wonder how she did it. And that’s where I see the disciples in this story too. They’re on the boat with Jesus. He’s spent a whole day preaching and decides to take a nap while they head off to the other side, but he’s interrupted by the disciples fearing they can’t handle to voyage on their own. They find themselves all of a sudden, in this raging, intense storm. The boat is taking on water and they fear for their lives. They wake up Jesus and yell at him say don’t you care about us – we’re dying out here, do something – Help us get the water out of the boat! Help us steer ! Help us ride out this storm! Don’t just sleep! And he does, he commands the sea to calm and the storm to dissipate. And it’s dead quiet. And then the disciples are afraid again. Dumbstruck by this thing that they just saw – their teacher and friend controlling nature. And they look around to each other and kind of verify what they just saw and ask each other “what just happened?” and “what do we not know about Jesus if can do THAT”. And I can only imagine the millions of other questions that they have running through their minds. The way that they must feel as they row the boat through the eeriness of the calm over the sea and continue on their way. In the midst of this global pandemic, it’s easy to feel these different types of fear – the fear of what’s right in front of you, the waves crashing into the boat causing it to sink, forcing you to stay home and keep your distance from those you love; -and the fear of the things you can’t answer – who is this person, what will all of these cancellations mean for my future, my friendships, my relationships and my life? When we’re able to step away from one set of fears we step directly into another one. And it feels so hopeless, exhausting and lonely. How are we supposed to find hope in the midst of this? If what’s right in front of us is one thing to worry about and just beyond that is a flurry of other things to worry about, stress about and overanalyze? Answering that question is hard. I only found it in a short sermon that pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber posted on her Instagram a few days ago, in which she said “maybe hope isn’t in those fears going away. Maybe it’s in love.” And I think she’s right. Because for right now, it’s hard to make the things that make us fearful go away. It’s hard to not worry about the virus and the ways that it impacts us. It’s hard to say that we’re all okay just gathering in our homes in front of our computer screens to chat with friends and to say that we’re not slowly being driven to madness by our parents and siblings. But maybe our hope isn’t in the calming of the storm, but in weathering it together. In the text that we get when someone checks in on us, in the productivity we have around the house, in puzzle we finish with those around us or in an extra-long phone call with a loved one. Maybe we can stop yelling at God to help out and fix the storm and expect that by doing so our fears will calm with it. That once that happens, we can find hope and joy again! What if it’s in the creative ways that we find to love and connect with each other? And what if that can be okay for right now? So, friends for right now, for this time, keep your heads up – do your online coursework, wash your hands, stay home, walk your dog and call a friend – because it’s in these things that we weather this storm and make it to the other side.