Finding God in Storm Stories

Finding God in Storm Stories

Sermon on 1 Kings 19:9-12 and Matthew 14:22-33 for Pentecost +10 A, August 13, 2017

1 Kings 19:9-12

At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there.

Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”

He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.

Matthew 14:22-33

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the lake. But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, “Truly you are God’s Son.”

Finding God in Storm Stories

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We just read two of the most well known stories in the bible.  Most people have heard of God speaking to Elijah in the “still small voice” as it says in the King James Version.  And, most people know the story of Jesus walking on the water, and of Peter trying to join him, and of the calming of the storm. 

You are free to take these stories anyway you like.  For me, they both function on the level of myth.  That is, they are stories that tell us things that are deeply true, in a metaphorical or non-literal way.    Continue reading “Finding God in Storm Stories”

Being Grasped to Struggle

Being Grasped to Struggle

Sermon on Genesis 32:22-31 for Pentecost +9, August 6, 2017

Genesis 32:22-31
The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.

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I was listening to a podcast in which the speaker was discussing the ancient stories in Genesis. He was so impressed with their brevity. For example the whole story of Cain and Able takes only 15 verses to tell. These stories, he suggested, had been compressed over time, so that only the essential elements remained.

Why do people tell stories? Why do families and communities tell stories, and remember them and hand them down the generations? Well, stories tell us who we are. We especially value stories that tell us how we came to be who we are.

Continue reading “Being Grasped to Struggle”