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Sunday 23 June 2024 Trinity 4, Twelfth in Ordinary time, Proper 7

A whirlwind and a storm

Job 38:1-11; Mark 4:35-41

By Michele Kitto

Anglican Chaplain, writer, and artist

Context: a Eucharist for a mixture of ages and a varied congregation. It is also suitable for those new to faith or exploring or for adapting for use in a school service

Aim: to reflect on our relationship with God

When was the last time you left the house to find a gust of wind, a wheely bin rolling down the street, a sudden crash of waves on the beach? Did it take you by surprise? Were you expecting it? Perhaps you were, but in that moment was there something unexpected? What did you notice? What did you miss?

SEEKING ANSWERS

Today we live in a world, where so often we just want a quick answer. It’s perhaps not helped by having a phone or tablet or ‘Alexa’ at our fingertips. We can so easily rush to Google for an answer or to look something up. This is wonderful, but perhaps at times, it distracts us from the searching or probing of our minds. In the past, we might have had to ask around, wait to see a friend, visit the library, grab a book off the shelf or just try to work it out with further questions.

In the passage from Job, God answers Job out of the whirlwind, a symbol perhaps of the divine encounter, in a huge act of love. However, instead of very clear directions and a to-do list we are given an insight into a God who desires to build a relationship. This loving relationship is one in which he probes Job to work out his answers, through questioning.

INTO THE STORM

Visiting the passage in Mark we see the disciples somewhat bewildered and frightened as Jesus sleeps and the storm is raging. I don’t know about you but when the wind is howling outside or we go out unnecessarily in a storm, after the initial fear there is often a surge of excitement. As the wind blows against us, our feet feel slightly uneasy, unsettled, unrooted and yet there is an eagerness in the air we can often not comprehend. There is an element of the unexpected, an element of risk often accompanied by fear as we comprehend that we are not in control of the elements and need to retreat to safety.

Then the next day the storm passes, and we wander outside in the garden or along the beach and it’s as if there had never been a storm. Things seem peaceful, perhaps a little reordered. New things emerge. We see things that perhaps we haven’t seen before. There is no doubt that Job was being made to think God was questioning him in parts he hadn’t been into before. Job was in a sense being taken into a storm. He wasn’t sure-footed. He didn’t quite know what was coming next, but he knew he had to trust. This is how we grow in a relationship; we learn to trust each other in the storms that come our way in life.

It is often in these times, that we notice more about ourselves and others, at a deeper level. This self-examination, or allowing others to guide us, helps us to develop our deeper relationship with God. It might not reveal all the answers, but the questions it raises in the storm are important to hold onto and revisit when the storm has settled, and new life emerges.

REMAINING CALM

Jesus was modelling good practice of how we need to be in amongst the storms of our lives particularly in amongst the storms of others. It’s of no help in a crisis to be the one that screams and shouts and causes chaos. We need to remain calm.

Although there may not be a storm outside today, there are many storms in our world and lives. The social media-dominated news portrays the negative over the positive. The disagreements, even on a local level, or within our church, can be whirlwinds or a full gale force nine! We need to turn to silence, reflection, and prayer.

So, my prayer today is to ask God to help us in the storms in our lives (be it gale force or just an upturned umbrella). Help us realise like the disciples that the storms at first often seem greater than they really are. Help us spend time on the shoreline after the storm, reflecting and noticing the changes, picking up the fresh pieces of treasure and leaving those we need to leave behind.

Remembering we are always treasured and loved by God.

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