Reflection for Creation Sunday
“Jesus said to them, “Where is your faith?” They were afraid and amazed and said to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and water, and they obey him?” From Luke 8:22-25, NRSV.
“Very likely, what with enemies, and mountains, and rivers to cross, and losing our way, and next to nothing to eat, and sore feet, we’ll hardly notice the weather.”Puddleglum in ‘The Silver Chair’ by CS Lewis.
Today’s Gospel could not be more appropriate as Europe comes to terms with the deaths of 16 people and deals with the aftermath of Storm Eunice whilst bracing for more windy weather to come. Some minor storm damage has occurred at the church here but compared to the top of the spire being blown off St Thomas’ church in Wells, Somerset we have been fortunate. To see the wind remove such heavy stone was testimony to its strength with the highest wind gust ever recorded in the UK at 122mph by the Isle of Wight. Witnessing its power was both exhilarating and frightening!
So, it’s no wonder that the disciples are petrified when a severe storm blows up on the Sea of Galilee whilst they are sailing across it. Jesus has told them to do this and they have obediently done so, with him being so tired by the crowds and unconcerned about the weather that he falls asleep. The Sea of Galilee, also called Lake Gennesaret, is the lowest freshwater lake in the world and ocean winds from the hills of Galilee in the West, cold winds from the Labanese mountains in the North and warm winds from the desert in the East sweep over it. Storms occur there very frequently and, as fishermen, the disciples would have known that and probably expected this one to blow itself out. However, the tempest threatens to overwhelm the boat which, with its low sides to facilitate hauling in the catch, would easily fill with water. They wake Jesus up, sure that they are going to perish, and he rebukes the wind and waves which cease and calm is restored. Rather than sympathising with them in their fear, Jesus asks the disciples, “Where is your faith?” and they are astounded that even the elements obey him. “Who then is this?” they ask.
There are times for all of us when the storms of life itself as well as the weather threaten to overwhelm us or cause disaster of some kind, making us terrified or fearful. It’s tempting to become immersed in the panic like the disciples who cried out, “WE are perishing”, understandably thinking of their own safety rather than being concerned for their sleeping leader too. Perhaps we know people who seem unconcerned about unfolding events or are so anxious about possible adversity that they over-react.
That was the case with Puddleglum, the Marsh-Wiggle character invented by CS Lewis. He is gloomy and pessimistic, always seeing the worst of things, but was apparently based on the actual person of his gardener Fred Paxford. Perhaps we know someone like him – or are we like him ourselves?!
With the tensions between Russia and Ukraine, the threat of war is bringing fresh storms to Europe and the possible consequences are horrifying. The words of Jesus to his disciples then have an added resonance as we face this today, knowing that faith will not remove hardship or adversity but will enable prayer and trust to be considerations as well as fear and peril. The disciples saw the wind and waves obey the command of Jesus and asked, “Who then is this?” Each of us has to answer that question for ourselves and the position Jesus occupies in our own lives today, too. This Creation Sunday, also Septuagesima and the Second Sunday before Lent, we can also turn to Jesus for help in this gathering storm as did those frightened disciples, hearing once again his reply: “Where is your faith?”
With my prayers, pob bendith,