Proper 7 (Tract 2) June 21, 2015
Let us pray. Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful and kindle in us the fire of Your love. Send forth Your Spirit and we shall be created, and You shall renew the face of the Earth. O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit instructs the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit, we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolations, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
A four- year old boy was eating an apple in the back seat of the car, when he asked, “Daddy, why is my apple turning brown?
“Because,” his dad explained, “after you ate the skin off, the meat of the apple came into contact with the air, which caused it to oxidize, thus changing the molecular structure and turning it into a different color.”
There was a long silence. Then the son asked softly, “Daddy are you talking to me?”
On this Father’s Day, this story reminds me that as a father, I often tried to explain things to my children but they just did not get it no matter how hard I tried. As I look back, this was probably due to the fact that I just wasn’t explaining things on their level but rather on my level. Or maybe they just didn’t want to listen to me!
In Mark’s Gospel, today’s reading comes immediately after last week’s reading. You will recall that last week’s story was the parable of the mustard seed. After that parable, Mark says “With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.”
Why do you suppose that Jesus spoke to them in parables? Because he was trying to talk to them on their level and he used parables to illustrate truths, stimulate thinking, and awaken spiritual perception. The people in general were not ready for the full truth of the gospel. When alone with his disciples Jesus taught more specifically, but even they usually needed to have things explained. Well, guess what? It may have helped but basically they still didn’t get it. Which leads us to today’s story.
On this particular day when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” He was referring to going across to the other side of the lake where he could be away from the crowds and get some rest. But he is so worn out and tired that he falls asleep in the boat. While he is asleep, a great storm comes up and the waves are beating into the boat and the boat is being swamped. Obviously the disciples are terrified. I am not a boating person, but I can just imagine how terrified they must be. In fact, when I think about this story, I have visions from the movie the Perfect Storm or the TV reality show The Deadliest Catch. I can definitely relate to how they must have felt.
As a result of their fear, they wake Jesus up and let him know that they are perishing. And they say to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He rebukes the wind and says to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceases and there is dead calm. He says 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?”
What do we learn from this story? One thing for sure is that it is enormously difficult to understand the divinity of Jesus Christ. Here we have the disciples who are seeing things on a first hand basis and still don’t understand what is going on. In addition they are getting private tutoring lessons directly from Jesus and they still can’t get it! Given their difficulty, how in the world are we going to understand Jesus and his divinity? To begin to peel the onion back on this, I believe there are three things that we need to do.
First, it is imperative that we read the Bible on a daily basis. And to further our understanding and try to get our arms around it, we should be involved in a Bible study on a regular basis, preferably weekly. How is it possible to understand something if you don’t study it? We do for everything else in life: our jobs, our classes if we are involved in taking a course, parenting, etc. So why wouldn’t we do it for the most important thing in the world – our salvation?
The second thing we must do is engage in daily prayer. I believe this is one of the most overlooked disciplines of our Christian life. Notice I said discipline. And that is what it must be – something that becomes part of us and our daily lives. If we don’t talk to God and listen for him to talk to us, how are we ever going to understand him and the divinity of Jesus Christ? My suggestion is to find a time of day that is convenient for you that you can live into every day. I personally find that first thing in the morning is the best before I get involved in the day’s activities. If you go to page 136 of the Book of Common Prayer, you will find a section entitled Daily Devotions for Individuals and Families. This gives you the format for your individual devotion for any time of day.
Finally, we need to be regular in our worship. By regular I mean participating in at least one Eucharist per week. Worship cannot be something we do on Sunday morning when there is nothing better to do like play golf, go out on the boat, etc. It is impossible to be a stand alone Christian. It is imperative that we be in community and communion with our fellow Christians. Jesus does promise that when two or three are gathered together in His name, He will be in the midst of them.
I know this is basic stuff, but just like professional athletes we can get away from the basics and the result is never good.
If we stick to the basics of study, prayer, and worship, we will begin to “get it.” And then we won’t have to be like the four year old or the disciples and ask the question “are you talking to me?” because we will know that Jesus is talking to us.