2 Corinthians 6:1-13

Mark 4:35-41

At more or less this exact moment, my brother is preaching his candidate sermon at the First Congregational Church in Anamosa, Iowa. So, in the next hour or so, he’ll be asked to leave the room while the congregation votes on him, then return to find out whether they’ve been led to call him as their pastor. I can assure you, that’s not an experience one usually expects to enjoy. So, it’s no surprise that Michael called me yesterday afternoon to share his nerves – and I assume he also called our dad. Not that there was much either of us could tell him. He knows what he needs to know, and he has the gifts and presence of the Spirit he needs to have.

We might see some of that situation in Jesus’ response to the disciples (and he’d be extra cranky, having been awakened from his nap: “well, what did you need me for? Sure, I can calm the storm, but you’re all good sailors. You could have weathered it if you put yourselves to it.”

It’s like the way Paul called the Corinthian church back to the values and virtues they needed – purity, knowledge, patience, and kindness. He’s saying, just live into those and you’ll do great. But he knows that sometimes we need these reminders of what we already know. So Paul gets into that parental role, standing in for the heavenly Father we can’t see, to correct and re-orient the church.

Paul’s list of Christian virtues doesn’t promise that there won’t be trouble. He himself faced beatings, riots, and hunger, as he says. As much as we might wish we could prevent trouble for our children, we know that’s not how life works. It’s more important to give them the tools for dealing confidently with difficulties when they come along, because they will.

That’s what Jesus wanted from his disciples: to sail confidently, making use of the good knowledge they had, and better, of the deep faith he wanted to plant in them.

That’s what he wants from the church: to use our gifts confidently, trusting in the One we got them from in the first place. He wants us to sail this ship, whatever storms may come. He wants us to handle the building repairs, program planning, and fund-raising it takes to keep “afloat,” as we say. More, he wants us to reach out to each other, to share the joys and sorrows we experience individually and together, to provide the extra help all of us need at times. After all, we don’t have to be told what it is to be the church.

But we do, sometimes. Jesus knew this about his followers even before they woke him up to ask for sailing advice. Sometimes, we need Jesus to remind us who we are, what we’re about, and just Who is with us on this journey. We call God “Father” because He is there for us, strong and reassuring, even if sailing the ship is our job.

God gave us these gifts, the Father of all our fathers and mothers in faith, and he wants us to use what we know wisely and for the good, to care for the blessings we’ve been entrusted with. God wants us to give our strength to those who are weak, our knowledge to those who seek, our support to those in need. That is the life of all God’s children.

Amen.

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