September 5, Tuesday -   
Prayer for Peace

Richard Chartres
Anglican Bishop of London, Great Britain

Brief Meditation on Mark IV, 35-41.

And the same day when even was come he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. And when they had sent away the multitude they took him even as he was in the ship.

And there were also with him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind and the waves beat into the ship so that it was now full.

And e was in the hinder part of the ship asleep on a pillow: and they awake him and say unto him, Master carest thou not that we perish?

And he arose and rebuked the wind and said unto the sea, Peace be still. And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.

And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?

And they feared exceedingly and said one to another, What manner of man is this that even the wind and the sea obey him.

The day is drawing to a close and night is coming on. The crowds have departed as they have from many of our churches on ordinary days.

Jesus talks of a passage “to the other side” to a different place and they set sail in a small flotilla.

In Assisi from our many continents we have heard the call together to set out from a twilight zone for a voyage to a shadowy “other side” to which Jesus directs us.

Let s not be deceived the passage is not without its perils. A great storm of wind arises. Followers of Jesus in a world which worships the old gods of wealth and power will more and more face a storm of derision and even, if we are worthy, hatred for following in his way, the way of the cross, the way of self sacrificing love. They will try to take away whatever small position of honour and influence we have preserved from the ending of the day of Christendom in Europe but thank God we sail with companions from other parts of the world who can teach us about being witnesses for Christ in times and places of storm and persecution.

Christ sleeps and we are led to contemplate the three days in the tomb after the storm of the Passion. His going away however also teaches the disciples of the visceral depth of their need for him. As the vessel of their contrivance, that ship which has so often symbolised the Church begins to sink, they cry to him Master carest thou not that we perish?

Is this life a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing or is there loving purpose at the heart of the universe? And the gospel says “he arose”. He arises not as the domesticated Christ whom we so often want to see jogging with us through life’s way but as the Lord of wind and waves. Look to Him and He will calm our immobilising fear. Fear of losing what we have exhausts so many church people and so we come to look tired and the church often appears lifeless. There are some who would respond to the call of Jesus but then they look at us and decide that they have something better to do with their time.

When we face our fear and give him our full attention as he proclaims his “Peace” and commands “Be Still” then we know the “great calm”, the “galini megali” of the gospel. In this condition we enlarge our love for him, deepen our thanksgiving and replace immobilising fear of loss of what we have with life giving holy fear of who he is and what we are called to be. One person who dwells in this faith is stronger than a thousand persons who merely have interests.

He said unto the sea “Peace, be still.”

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