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Get in the boat with Jesus. Things are different as you travel to the other side.

25 Jun

Mark 4:35-41

On that day, when evening had come, [Jesus] said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

After teaching and healing and angering the religious and political authorities, Jesus now wants to take his disciples into a boat across the Sea of Galilee “to the other side.”

He may have just meant the other side of the lake, but for his disciples it ended up meaning a lot more than that.

For them, getting into the boat with Jesus meant going, not just to the other side of the lake into Gentile territory, but also to the other side of their fear, the other side of their faith, the other side of their comfort, the other side of what they know about Jesus.

Get in the boat with Jesus and things will be different on “the other side.”

Many of you know I grew up in a single-parent household. My dad left when I was young, so I grew up with my mom and three sisters. We did fine when all was said and done, but I held a lot of anger and resentment toward my father for many years. I blamed him for any difficulties or inadequacies in my life. As long as I held onto that resentment, I could simply blame him.

Then for one reason or another, Jesus invited me again into the boat and go somewhere in this part of my life. This time to go across to the other side of my long-held resentment. The sea was pretty rough, let me tell you. And in the course of that journey, like the disciples, I was convinced Jesus had abandoned me—or was at least asleep while my life was going through this chaotic transition. It was confusing and frightening, because there were no precedents or known paths. This was me in the boat with sleeping Jesus trying to weather the storm of changing resentment.

Travelling to the other side of my anger at my dad brought me through storms I hadn’t experienced before. Because rather than blaming him and bemoaning all the things that were wrong in my life, on the other side of resentment I owned the responsibility of changing my life. Part of that meant letting go of some things and forgiving some things. Even though it seemed as if Jesus was asleep in the boat, he was there the whole time, during every minute of every storm.

Get in the boat with Jesus and things will be different on “the other side.”

I’ve watched, sometimes even encouraged people to get into the boat with Jesus. I’ve listened to their stories of the storms they encountered. For some it was the loss of someone they love. For others it was telling their family that they’re gay. I’ve watched as people admitted major life mistakes or standing up to a bully for the first time. Or leaving the church. Or ending a marriage. Or facing their addiction.

But two things were always true every time: Jesus was always in the boat with them; and, things were always different on the other side.

I start a sabbatical a 14-week one week from today. We’re calling it “The Listening Tour,” and I’m hoping—among other things—that I can hear Jesus’ invitation to get into the boat with him. I’ll spend some time in Europe, literally on the other side of the sea. We’ll see what I hear and how things will be different on the other side.

I’ll also spend some time travelling across the deep south of the United States. I’ve never been there and wonder what storms I might encounter there. But I know I’ll hear thing differently having listened to the voices of people who live on the other side of this country—geographically, culturally, racially, and politically. I’m excited about what I’ll be hearing on the other side of this experience.

Jesus keeps inviting us to get into the boat with him. Day by day. That’s what it is to be a disciple. And when we do, we’ll likely hit some significant storms along the way. Because that’s what happens on the way to the other side. And that is frightening. Much of what we know gets challenged. Much of what we thought was reliable gets shaken up on the journey. The way we’ve always known Jesus can change, because he doesn’t avoid the storms at all. He heads right into them. The things that we’ve found comforting and comfortable get blown away in the wind. Things are definitely different on the other side.

If you get into the boat with Jesus, what storms are you likely to encounter? What black and white issue about which you’re certain might become gray? What fears do you have that might get faced? What aspects of your faith might be shown to be immature? What resentments are you hanging on to that might give way to forgiveness?

Get in the boat with Jesus and things will be different on “the other side.”

In the boat with Jesus, we can’t sit by while almost 2000 children are still separated from their parents with no plan of reuniting them. Because Jesus takes us to the other side of policy to compassion. And there will be storms as we go. Things you can do as disciples in the face of this immoral disaster are at the Welcome Center. Please stop by and pick up that sheet!

In the boat with Jesus, we can’t be complacent in our privilege (for those of us who are white, especially white males). Because Jesus takes us to the other side of the violence and evil of racism and into the need for full community. And there will be storms as we go.

In the boat with Jesus, there’s no room to stand in judgment of someone’s sexual identity and orientation. Because Jesus takes us to the other side of self-righteousness into the joy of inclusivity. And there will be storms as we go.

It can be terrifying to get into the boat with Jesus. Because we afraid of what might be coming. And the storms are big. And the other side is unknown.

But we know two things: Jesus is with us in the boat every minute of every storm. And Jesus is the one taking us to the other side.

Get in the boat with Jesus and things will be different on “the other side.”

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Posted by on June 25, 2018 in Sermon

 

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