Faith Despite Fear

24 June 2018 – Lectionary 12, Proper 7, Time after Pentecost

Mark 4:35-41

The storm represents chaos to the disciples. Not so for God and the one in whom God is incarnate. God creates and calms storms according to God’s desire. The disordered chaos prior to creation was calmed by the breath of a few syllables—let there be light. The terrifying chaos of a storm at sea is calmed by the breath of a few syllables—peace, be still. So, too, as we make the journey from self-serving lives to life in the body of Christ, storms will loom before us.

Our storms may not appear as crashing waves and waging wind, but rather as endless war and escalating unemployment. Even so, the fear we feel is no less than the fear of the disciples. Like them, Jesus summons us on a journey we would not choose if left to our own devices. We would fish from the shore and retire to a warm, dry place when the storm appears on the horizon.

Jesus carries us right into the heart of the storm, the places of pain and chaos, and like the disciples we often wonder if Jesus notices the danger—"Do you not care that we are perishing?” It turns out that Jesus does care, but not about the storm in which we could perish. Instead, Jesus cares about the faith that we live out while riding into the storm. With a few words, he demonstrates the greater power of faith and we, along with the disciples, are “filled with great awe.” –– Jennifer Copeland

Job 38:1-11

The demand from Job for his “day in court” has been granted and he now stands before God ready to make his case. . . Job, of course, is certain that he is innocent.

God’s reply to Job is condescending, almost sarcastic. Of course, the tone of voice is not recorded in scripture, but it’s intimidating enough to know that God’s voice blasts forth from “out of the whirlwind.” . . .

Job’s blessing comes in the mere fact of God’s acknowledgement of him and not by getting the answer he wants. Rather than discuss the pros and cons of Job’s case, God spends two-plus chapters demonstrating how Job is not even the issue. . . . I find much consolation in God’s condescension. Not only am I reminded that humans are not God, but I am convinced we don’t really want to be! Beyond simple consolation, the more profound message in these verses is one of hope. With God in charge of laying the foundation of the earth and determining its measurements, with God in charge of laying the cornerstone while the stars hummed along, there may yet be some hope for us all. –– Jennifer Copeland

2 Corinthians 6:1-13

Paul’s ministry, which he describes with his oft-misunderstood litany of personal woes, is presented as a template for reconciliation among the fractious Corinthians. Paul is particularly forceful in his exhortation and urgent in his appeal for reconciliation to happen. “Now is the acceptable time!” –– Amandus J. Derr


Jennifer Copeland, a United Methodist ordained minister, served for 16 years as chaplain at Duke University and as director of the Duke Wesley Fellowship. She is currently executive director at North Carolina Council of Churches in Raleigh-Durham.

Amandus J. Derr is senior pastor of St. Peter Lutheran Church (ELCA) in New York City.

Homily Service 42, no. 3 (2009): 38-47.

David Turnbloom