Fifth Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 7B

Track 1: Now Is the Acceptable Time

1 Samuel 17: (1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49
Psalm 9:9-20
or
1 Samuel 17:57-18:5, 10-16
Psalm 133

2 Corinthians 6:1-13
Mark 4:35-41

In life we can face great obstacles, tests, and trials. David was facing a great challenge which might seem beyond him or any Israeli: The giant Goliath. Goliath was a massive Philistine soldier. He was prepared to fight anyone from Israel who was willing to face him. The victor would determine the fate of the two nations. From 1 Samuel we read:

David said to Saul, “Let no one’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” Saul 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.” But 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, I 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. Your 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.” David 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!”   (1 Samuel 17:32-37)

For David, preparation was the key. He had faced dangerous situation in the past and he knew that he could call on God for help. God would answer him and come to his aid as he had done so many times before. David was prepared for an immediate response to Goliath. He was ready because he knew that God was with him and that God was ready.

Are we ready to face our Goliath’s? We cannot and should not do it alone. God must be with us. Do we have the confidence that David had that God is on our side and we are on his side?

Maybe we have not been faithful in our walk with God. Maybe we have not cultivated a personal relationship with God that David had done. We might think: If only we had done so, then we would have been prepared for the crisis. The good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that, though we may not be ready, God is still ready. The Apostle Paul wrote:

As we work together with Christ, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says,

“At an acceptable time I have listened to you,
and on a day of salvation I have helped you.”

See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!   (2 Corinthians 6:1-2)

God is an immediate God. He is ready to act now. Are we ready? Are we ready to abandon in notion that we might that we can navigate our lives without him? The disciples of Jesus had to learn this lesson. In Mark’s Gospel we read:

A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But Jesus 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. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”   (Mark 4:37-39)

Jesus was in the boat with his disciples. Is he in our boat? If he is not then we should invite him in – right now. Now is the acceptable time!

 

 

Track 2: Peace! Be Still!

Job 38:1-11
Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32
2 Corinthians 6:1-13
Mark 4:35-41

In today’s gospel reading the disciples of Jesus were facing a dangerous windstorm. The boat they were end was in danger of capsizing. Form Mark’s Gospel we read:

When evening had come, Jesus said to his disciples, “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?”  (Mark 4:35-41)

The disciples of Jesus were seasoned fishermen. They were aware of the destructive nature of the storm they were facing. What makes such storms of nature scary? They can get out of hand. We are not able to control such storms. We need a safe escape plan. Will there be enough warning and time to escape?

There are other kinds of storms in life. Everything seems to be falling apart at times. Job was facing such a storm. He knew that only God could help him. But would God help him? Would God still be able to make a difference at such an advanced stage of the crisis he was facing. He was at his wit’s end, so to speak. Job had run out of piously correct prayers. He cried out to God in desperation.

Job was not prepared for God’s answer:

The Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind:

“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?

Gird up your loins like a man,
I will question you, and you shall declare to me.

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.   (Job 38:1-4)

In a similar state, the disciples of Jesus were facing a grave crisis. They were aso not prepared for Jesus’ answer: “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”

What might be missing in both of these storms? God is in charge of everything, including storms. God the Father laid the foundation of the earth. He is the creator of the entire universe. God the Son was the very agent of creation. In John’s Gospel we read:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.   (John 1:1-3)

Jesus could rebuke the wind because Jesus formed the wind. God was in control of the world because he created the world. This meant that God was also in control of the circumstances in which Job found himself. Is God in control of our circumstance? Or do we find ourselves in a storm which we believe may be out of control?

Jesus was in the boat with his disciples. They were not alone. He spoke to the storm: “Peace! Be still!” Is Jesus in our boat? He is if we call upon him. The psalmist wrote:

The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.   (Psalm 9:9-10)

And again:

The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time on and forevermore.   (Psalm 121:5-8)

In our lifetime our faith will be tested. But we have this assurance from our Lord:

I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”   (John 16:33)

He will never leave us or forsake us. Let us never abandon our hope in him.

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Filed under homily, Jesus, lectionary, liturgical preaching, liturgy, Pentecost, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon preparation, Year B

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