Welcome to worship at Leeds West Hunslet. This service has been prepared by Majors David and Gill Coates, who are appointed to Homelessness Services in the North East Region. We pray that God will challenge, inspire and bless you as you share in this act of worship and communion with God. We will be thinking about the storms of life and in whom we trust.
Prayer time. We would invite you to share some moments in prayer as you watch this next video.
Lord as we face uncertain times when all around is constantly changing. We thank you that you are the great unchanging one, the one who is our rock in times of trouble. Help us Lord to put our faith and trust in you for, whatever storms may come our way, you will be with us. Thank you, Lord. Amen.
Bible Reading Mark.4.35-41
Jesus calms the storm
35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’ 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’41 They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!’
We have recently been using a resource called Taketime meditations based on the Ignatian meditation which is prayer with Scripture. It is meeting God through story. You may like to use this resource just now as part of your worship or come back and use it later.
The good old British weather is something we all talk about frequently as it is so unpredictable. This was certainly the case just a few weeks ago when we seemed to have all four seasons in one day. One minute the sun was shining, the next we had dark clouds and heavy rain and later snow.
Storms at sea can often blow up almost without warning, we have been on cruises where the storms were spectacular, the lightning flashes across the horizon, the thunder is rumbling away, and the torrential rain is lashing the ship.
Max Lucado, that great Christian writer, wrote a story entitled ‘In God we (nearly) trust’ and he shares his experience of a storm:
“A few days before our wedding, Denalyn and I enjoyed and endured a sailing voyage. Milt, a Miami church friend, had invited Denalyn, her mom, and me to join him and a few others on a leisurely cruise along the Florida coast.
Initially it was just that. Leisure. We stretched out on cushions, hung feet over the side, caught some zzz’s and rays. Nice.
But then came the storm. The sky darkened, the rain started, and the flat ocean humped like a dragon’s neck. Sudden waves of water tilted the vessel up until we saw nothing but sky and then downward until we saw nothing but blue. I learned this about sailing: there is nothing swell about a swell. Tanning stopped. Napping ceased. Eyes turned first to the thunderclouds, then to the captain. We looked to Milt.
He was deliberate and decisive. He told some people where to sit, others what to do, and all of us to hang on. And we did what he said. Why? We knew he knew best. No one else knew the difference between starboard and stern. Only Milt did. We trusted him. We knew he knew.
And we knew we didn’t. Prior to the winds, we might have boasted about Boy Scout merit badges in sailing or bass-boat excursions. But once the storm hit, we shut up. (Except for Denalyn, who threw up.) We had no choice but to trust Milt. He knew what we didn’t—and he cared. The vessel was captained, not by a hireling or a stranger, but by a pal. Our safety mattered to him. So, we trusted him”.
Oh, that the choice was equally easy in life.
Victims of sudden storms are all around us. Covid has brought numerous storms through deaths, illness, economical unrest, unemployment. You know the winds. You’ve felt the waves. Good-bye, smooth sailing. Hello, rough waters.
I guess this is what the disciples experienced on the Sea of Galilee. The lake is a body of water 680 feet below sea level and surrounded by hills. Winds blowing across land intensify close to the sea, often causing violent and unexpected storms.
The disciples were seasoned fishermen who had spent their lives fishing on this lake but during this storm they panicked!
They panicked because the storm threatened to destroy them all and Jesus seemed unaware and unconcerned.
Theirs was a physical storm, but storms come in other forms as we’ve already said
Such typhoons test our trust in the ‘Captain’. Does God know what he is doing? Can he get us out? Why did he allow the storm?
Think about the storms in your life – the situations that cause you great anxiety.
We all face storms of one kind or another – family concerns, health concerns, depression, bereavement, financial worries. They sometimes and often hit without warning when all seems well.
Whatever your difficulty, you have two options.
You can worry and assume that Jesus no longer cares, or
You can resist fear, putting your trust in Him.
Can you say about God what Max Lucado said about Milt? I know God knows what’s best. I know I don’t. I know he cares.
Such words come easily when the water is calm. But when you’re looking at a wrecked car or a suspicious-looking mole, when war breaks out or thieves break in, do you trust him?
The disciples underestimated Jesus despite being with him, living with him. They did not see that his power applied to their situation. Jesus has been with his people for 20 centuries now, yet we, like the disciples, underestimate his power to handle crises in our lives. The disciples did not yet know enough about Jesus – we, however, cannot make the same excuse!
This morning, what is your response to the storms in your life? ‘In God I trust!’ or do you have a ‘nearly’ in there?
THIS, this is the God we adore, Our faithful, unchangeable Friend; Whose love is as great as his power, And neither knows measure nor end. 'Tis Jesus, the First and the Last, Whose Spirit shall guide us safe home; We'll praise him for all that is past, And trust him for all that's to come.
(Joseph Hart 1712-1768)
Thank you for reading
Prepared by Majors David and Gill Coates