A reflection for the 20th June 2021
Third Sunday after Trinity 2021

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Offered for Sunday 20th June 2021


Stephen

Reflections Script

'Third Sunday after Trinity 2021'

Compiled 19th June 2021


'Sound Track to Start'
What a way to start just a small taster of a modern classic;
"If you need a friend/ I'm sailing right behind/
Like a bridge over troubled water/ I will ease your mind."

In his 1970s worldwide hit, Bridge Over Troubled Water,
the lyrics penned by Paul Simon paints a picture of total support
and protection; "When you're weary", "when you're down and out",
"when darkness comes", the song's narrator will be there, a firm,
comforting foundation, represented by the song's central image,
"A bridge over troubled water".

It's something everyone probably wants to hear,
in one form or another, from someone else at some point
in their lives; the assurance that someone else is there for you,
and, like Paul Simon, helping you to rise above life's choppy
and "troubled" seas.

In the best kinds of loving relationships, both parties can
feel safe in the knowledge their other half is there to comfort
and support them, and to help them through hard times;
it's, in fact, almost a basic requirement of entering into
an understanding, empathetic relationship of any kind
with another human being.

In Mark 4: 35 to 41 the disciples treat Jesus like a
"bridge over troubled water", always there for them.
However, Jesus uses the situation and challenges the disciples
to have faith which evokes the response
'Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?'

A question and response as relevant now as when the disciples
uttered those words; "Who then is this?"



Let us Pray


Holy God, mighty and immortal,
you are beyond our knowing,
yet we see your glory in the face and presence
of Jesus Christ, whose compassion
illuminates the world.
Transform us into the likeness of the love of Christ,
who renewed our humanity so we may share
in his divinity, the same Jesus Christ,
our Lord, who live and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit.
Amen.



Address


J.R.R. Tolkien's epic novel
'The Lord of the Rings' tells the story of a quest to destroy
a magic ring before an evil Dark Lord can find it
and rule the world.

The companions on the quest must take the ring to the
Dark Lord's stronghold and throw it into the furnace
in which it was made.
Their journey is beset by dangers, as the forces of evil
try to stop them, but they have the wisdom and guidance
of the wizard Gandalf to help them.

Running from an attack, they take a road under the mountains,
but that too takes them into the path of creatures
who want to destroy them.
They are faced by a terrible fiery monster,
and in the battle that follows Gandalf
falls into a fiery ravine.

Later on their travels some of the companions meet
an old man disguised in a cloak and hat.
They sense danger and are afraid.
Who is this? But when he speaks, one of them feels something
other than fear, "like the sudden bite of a keen air,
or the slap of a cold rain that wakes an uneasy sleeper".

His instincts are right;
the old man is Gandalf, returned as if from the dead.
He is indeed now dangerous and terrible;
but he is also still their friend and leader.
There is new hope for the success of the quest.

The disciples know Jesus. He is their friend.
They have travelled with him and listened to
his stories. They have seen people healed.
They have begun to understand something of his mission.
But they have not even begun to grasp the miracle
of who he is.

It takes an episode of extreme danger to make them
ask the question.
They are with Jesus in a boat crossing the lake when a
storm blows up. Waves crash over the small boat.
The disciples bail frantically, but nothing works.
Jesus, meanwhile, is asleep.

His friends wake him up, needing his help.
Calmly, he speaks to the wind and the water,
and they subside.
"Who then is this?" they ask one another.

It's the right question.
Who is it that can control watery chaos with a word?
The disciples have read their scriptures and know that
the universe was brought into being with a word from
the creator God dividing the waters.

They have sung the psalm that says to God,
"the waters stood above the mountains.
At your rebuke they flee;
at the sound of your thunder they take to flight"
Psalm 104:6-7.

They have read the book of Job and heard God
claim power over the created order:
"who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out
from the womb... and said...'here shall your proud waves
be stopped'?"

They know the story of the Red Sea,
which God parted to let their ancestors cross on dry land.
Now Jesus speaks to raging water and it obeys.
He reveals himself as more than a teacher,
more than a healer.

His friends have seen his divine power and they are
in awe of him.
"Who then is this?"He is still their friend and teacher,
but like Gandalf's companions, they have seen him
as he truly is, as he will be on the other side of death.

When Mark included this story in his Gospel,
he's also talking to us.
He tells us we are not reading a biography of a good man.
We are not hearing nice stories about farming and fishing.
We are not even admiring the skill of a healer.

We are reading about God's purpose for the world,
brought to fruition through the ministry of Jesus.
When Jesus stands in the boat and speaks to the waves,
he acts with the authority of the one in whose hands
rests the entire universe.

As we read on, this episode sheds its light over
everything we read. And when we reach the end
of the story, the defeat of death itself seems
almost inevitable, because how can death hold on
to one who can still the deathly power
of the raging waters with a word?



To Summarise

In 'The Lord of the Rings'
Gandalf's apparent return from the dead
at first fills his friends with fear.
But then they recognise him and are encouraged.
The story of Jesus stilling the storm
shows he holds power usually associated
with God the creator.
The disciples are led by their experience
to ask questions about Jesus' identity.
The story makes us read the Gospel not as a
biography but as an account of God's purposes
fulfilled in Jesus.
"Who then is this?" should be a question
we keep asking and discovering anew
Jesus is more than a
'Bridge Over Troubled Water'



Our Blessing


"Peace! Be still!" said Jesus,
and his friends were filled with
awe and wonder.
In the joy of salvation,
let us seek afresh the awe and wonder of
our Lord whose mere words calmed
the raging waters.
And the blessing.......


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