Maker and Sustainer of creation,
you bring order out of chaos
and calm in the discord of our lives;
help us to trust in you,
even when all around seems to be giving way;
this we ask in our Saviour’s name. Amen.
Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity. Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real but fear is a choice. — Will Smith, After Earth (2013)
There are a number of ways of picturing the Christian church—the church is the Body of Christ, we are living stones, or a royal priesthood. Or that perennial favourite: a peculiar people.
There are other pictures too. For example, we can see the church as a boat, sailing over the waters of chaos. There are two places in the Bible where we are encouraged to see this image:
Firstly, in the story of the Flood in which Noah and his family are delivered from death through the ark; and secondly, in today’s Gospel story, in which Jesus stills the storm that threatens to send the disciples to a watery grave.
Here are two examples of nautical logos for church bodies, the National Council of Churches in Australia, and the World Council of Churches:
The inside of a traditional church building may also remind us of a boat:
Just over five years ago, Karen and I were on a boat in the Holy Land. One of our favourite parts of Israel was Lake Galilee and the surrounding areas. Our guide would take us places and say things like This is the traditional site of the Sermon on the Mount, or the Feeding of the Five Thousand—and he always said that it might well not be ‘the’ place. But there’s only ever been one Sea of Galilee, and when you looked at the water and the shore and the sky you knew that Jesus himself had seen that same sea, that same shoreline, that same blue expanse of sky. There was something very special in that.
We went across the Sea of Galilee on a boat, and had Holy Communion as we went across. They say storms blow up very quickly there, and it was certainly true for us that day. We began in a calm, glassy sea and ended up in rolling waves. Our guide said he wouldn’t have allowed us to go out if the weather had been like that when we started out.
Today, we find the disciples sailing a boat across Lake Galilee, when
Suddenly a strong wind blew up, and the waves began to spill over into the boat, so that it was about to fill with water.
Yes indeed, storms blow up quickly there all right.