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Lenten Devotion 33 4.3.2020

There is a scene in the movie Fiddler on the Roof where Tevye has just seen the wedding of his daughter overrun and ruined by the antisemitic local militia. What had been a day of great joy was turned into a destructive melee. Tevye gazes out over the devastation, looks up, clearly to God, lifts his palms upward and shrugs his shoulders. The body language is clear. “What’s up with this, God? Why didn’t you step in? I don’t understand.” Don’t we feel this way a bit during our current pandemic? It is natural. That is how the disciples reacted to the storm that nearly sank their boat – while Jesus slept.

Mark 4: 35-41

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side.’ 36And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37A great gale arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38But 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?’ 39He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?’ 41And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’

One of the things that frustrates Jesus in this passage is that the disciples seem to have no faith. The usual reading of this passage is that the disciples believed that Jesus should have been saving them from the storm but was sleeping instead. “What’s up with this, Jesus? Why don’t you step in? We don’t understand.” Another way of reading this would be to refer to the Psalms. The Psalmist complains from time to time that God slumbers while the Psalmist suffers. But then the Psalmist concedes that the Psalmist does not understand God but trusts God, nonetheless. Maybe here Jesus is saying to the disciples that they appear to have no trust. That Jesus calms the storm is just evidence to them that God is with them – really – right there with them. That is the awesome message we should trust now. God is with us – really – right here with us.

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