Saturday, August 06, 2011
Sermon Notes for Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
O Love that Will Not Let Me Go
Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
August 7, 2011
* It was a Dark and Stormy Night
* There is a movement from apparent abandonment to communion, from terror to trust, from overwhelming fear to worship in spirit and truth
I. The Saints in the Storm - Matthew 14:22-26
A. Christ Ascended: King and Priest
B. The Navum of the Lord - our ship tossed amid fearful opposition
* Beaten by the waves: 'tortured', 'harassed', 'terrible distress' (Matthew 8:6)
* This is often our inheritance and it is God's gift to us, his hard mercies, which bring us to the place of deepening faith in Him.
- All is fear and terror: the great dragon of the sea (Yam, from Yammu, Ugaritic name of the Sea Dragon ruling the depths), the apparition on the waters.
- We all have terrible storms, great tempests in which we feel ourselves abandoned: "Where is God my Savior?"
- Like Job, we wish to put God 'in the dock' and question his actions and wisdom; like Job, we discover that God does not answer our questions except with a few of his own! Job 38:4-18
II. The Savior in the Storm - Matthew 14:24-27
A. Christ comes to us in the storm
* Fourth Watch (3-6 am, meaning they'd been in the storm for many, many hours already and were exhausted). Christ seems 'Delayed' (John 11), yet always at just the right time and in just the right way he comes to his own, walking on the waters that rage (Job 9:8)
* The storm rages despite his presence; he does not cause the storm to cease, but is rather fully present in it.
B. He is Immanuel, God with us: "I AM. Fear Not."
* This is the Gospel and it is this word of life that brings faith to birth, faith that saves (Romans 10; Isaiah 43:15-16)
* John Wesley on his way to America
III. The Saint in the Savior - Matthew 14:28-33
A. "Come!" - The Call of the Savior
B. Can we be Saved? Can a Rock 'Float'? - Peter (petros) on the waves
* The gravity of fear, the buoyancy of faith; there is no change in the storm, but only in the heart of Peter.
* Pondus Amoris (Augustine): 'My weight is my love, and this it is that bears me in whatever direction I am borne." (Confessions)
- "My love is the true gravity of my person: if my love looks downward, is attached to earthly things, it will sink by its own weight like a rock in water; but if my love yearns for God, it will rise...like a flame seeking the heights." Erasmo Leiva Merikakis
- And our hearts are divided, loving this world and so tethered that we sink and ALWAYS NEED THE SAVIOR
- Christ is not Savior because we say he is, but because he has saved, is saving, and shall yet save us - he will not let us go.
* The Cry of Faith (though always mixed with fear): "Lord, save me!"
C. "Jesus took hold of him" - this is our true rest, our true peace
* Still the storm rages
* Do not forget your baptism - he saved us in the waters for himself.
In the end, the wind 'grows weary' and the ship of fear and exhaustion is turned into a sanctuary of worship. The very place of our terror is transformed by grace through Christ's presence.
* Alexander Ogorodnikov: “I was placed in solitary - not alone in a cell, but alone in an entire building. My only companions were hunger and cold. The hunger was so great, that I wanted slit my wrists to drink my own blood in order to survive. And the cold? It was northern Siberia. The guards would smash the windows to let the freezing wind come in. You could not flee the cold. The cell is a tomb, with only a weak light present. In my cold, I would pray - so I ‘prayed without ceasing’. I had no experience of the Jesus prayer before this, but this I prayed constantly. This prayer helped me breathe and calmed my heart. I said, ‘Surely God you have not forgotten me’, and as I prayed I would become warm. I can only compare this warmth to the breath of a mother upon her cold child. I cannot communicate this beauty to you. I began to weep and a quiet joy - quiet but uncontainable - began to rise within me. Then I did not notice the passage of time or the cold. In the morning the guards would come with a doctor expecting to find me dead. But I was warm and well instead. The Lord showed me I was preserved, not by my merit but by the prayers of thousands of people, thousands of miles away - those prayers rose to heaven, got over the wires, passed the dogs, and came to embrace me. A voice came to me and said, “You are not alone.” And I wasn’t."