Tuesday, June 26, 2012

June 24 Sermon

In the silence of the stars, In the quiet of the hills, In the heaving of the sea, Speak, Lord.
In the stillness of this room, In the calming of our minds, In the longing of our hearts, Speak, Lord.
In the voice of a friend, In the chatter of a child, In the words of a stranger, Speak, Lord.
In our service of word & sacrament and in the waters of baptism
Speak, Lord, for your servants listen. Amen. [adapted from a prayer by David Adam]
A Michigan woman and her family were vacationing in a small New England town. One Sunday morning, the woman got up early to take a long walk. After a brisk five-mile hike, she decided to treat herself to a double-dip chocolate ice cream cone. She hopped in the car, drove to the center of the village and went straight to the combination bakery/ice cream parlor.

There was only one other patron in the store: Paul Newman, sitting at the counter having a doughnut and coffee. The woman's heart skipped a beat as her eyes made contact with those famous baby-blue eyes.

The actor nodded graciously and the star struck woman smiled demurely.

Pull yourself together! She chides herself. You're a happily married woman with three children, you're forty-five years old, not a teenager!

The clerk filled her order and she took the double-dip chocolate ice cream cone in one hand and her change in the other. Then she went out the door, avoiding even a glance in Paul Newman's direction.

When she reached her car, she realized that she had a handful of change but her other hand was empty.
Where's my ice cream cone? Did I leave it in the store? Back into the shop she went, expecting to see the cone still in the clerk's hand or in a holder on the counter or something! No ice-cream cone was in sight..

With that, she happened to look over at Paul Newman. His face broke into his familiar, warm, friendly grin and he said to the woman, 'You put it in your purse.'
That was a true story. Sometimes it can be a Paul Newman, but much more often it is something much more traumatic like the death of a loved one, hearing the doctor say it is cancer, losing your job, or even your car breaking down, those unexpected storms that throw our "boats" off course, that cause us to panic and that throw us off balance and create much anxiety even despair.

Within each of us is the grace of the "awakened" Jesus in today's Gospel: the wisdom, the patience, the courage to discern the presence of God even amid the storms of tension, fear, anxiety, and tragedy we experience.

The words Jesus addresses to the storm can just as well be addressed to us and to our hearts: “Peace! Be still!” In our stormy, whirlwind lives, we need to hear his voice and make time for peace and stillness in order to hear the voice of the Spirit; to calm our lives as we navigate our small boats through life's stormy Galilee sea. The grace of the Risen Christ enables us to discern the presence of God even amidst the roar of the tempest and sea.

As Frederick Buechner writes in his book Secrets of the Dark: "Christ sleeps in the deepest selves of all of us, and whatever we do in whatever time we have left, wherever we go, may we in whatever way we can call on him as the fishermen did in their boat to come awake within us and to give us courage, to give us hope, to show us, each one, our way. May he be with us especially when the winds go mad and the waves run wild, as they will for all of us before we're done, so that even in their midst we may find peace and find him."
Which reminds me of the Breton Fisherman’s Prayer who knew something about being tossed on the sea (a plaque which was presented to JFK):
Dear God, be good to me; The sea is so wide And my boat is so small.
So how do we in the midst of our lives take the time to hear the voice of God, to still ourselves in good the quiet moments or in the stormy times of our lives?

My wife has been using a bell that goes off on her iphone periodically. She then pauses and says a prayer of thanks to God for that moment, even if the kids are totally out of control, the dogs are running a muck and all is chaos. She stills herself, prays and reconnects.

It is a very simple but easy way to stay connected with God during our day, much like the monks and nuns of yester year and today who take each day to pray at specific moments to recommit themselves to God in the busyness of their lives.

There are many such ways to pray, but this morning, I invite you to that same practice. To take a moment, quiet your selves, and when I ring the bell, say a quiet prayer of thanks to God (or even ask for help) in the midst of our chaotic and stormy lives. I will end our silent prayers with a final collect.

Ready your selves – nice deep breath, (pause) < Bell >
Give us Lord the grace to walk by faith, through every storm of life to keep our eyes on you. And when we fail to see, or start to sink, or feel lost, stretch out your hand to raise us up. So may we learn to hold to you through good and ill, until we come to the haven where we would be, in everlasting joy and peace. Amen. [prayer by Jeffrey John]

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